Saturday, September 10, 2011

Obama's Unaffordable and Harmful New 'Stimulus'

by Hans Bader

President Obama wants Congress to pass a $447 billion proposal called the “American Jobs Act,” a costly set of recycled stimulus plans that contains no new ideas about how to fix the economy. It contains more money for the long-term unemployed, more infrastructure spending, and funds for hiring laid-off teachers. It also would extend a cut in the portion of payroll taxes paid by employees. The measures would be financed mostly by deficit spending, but partly by raising taxes on the so-called “rich” — a category that includes most of the small business owners who actually hire people — and by eliminating what the administration refers to as “tax loopholes” — which are not really tax loopholes at all, but rather provisions that allow industries disfavored by the administration to benefit from the same tax code provisions as other industries.

(What is a tax “loophole” to the Obama administration is actually evenhanded non-discriminatory treatment of different industries, according to The Washington Examiner‘s Tim Carney and other observers. For example, to Obama, letting the petroleum industry receive the benefits of tax code provisions that also apply to other energy or resource-extraction industries like mining qualifies a “loophole,” as does treating the oil companies the same as farmers or timber companies; while giving tax credits solely to a politically-favored industry or manufacturer, such as a politically-connected “green-jobs” firm, or a taxpayer-subsidized ethanol manufacturer, is not a tax loophole to Obama).

Even the least-bad of Obama’s proposals will not grow the economy. Aid for the long-term unemployed will reduce the size of the economy by encouraging some people to not accept jobs that pay far less than they were accustomed to, even when those are the only jobs available to them. Obama’s proposed infrastructure spending will not grow the economy either, as Veronique de Rugy and others note, since it will be accompanied by costly Davis-Bacon mandates designed to favor unions (which raise the cost of transportation projects and exclude many small non-union contractors), and some of it will be wasted on rail boondoggles and pork rather than roads and bridges, or on Obama Administration pet projects, like energy efficiency, that require specialized skills that most unemployed construction workers lack. (Ironically, Obama removed most transportation spending from the original $800 billion stimulus package for political reasons, replacing it with more harmful welfare and social spending.)

By requiring above-market wages for the jobs it funds due to laws like Davis-Bacon, the Obama administration’s proposal virtually guarantees that it will end up siphoning off people who are already employed from other employers, rather than just hiring the jobless, who are more likely to be willing to work for modest wages. Only 42 percent of the people hired under the stimulus package, for example, were previously unemployed, partly due to the above-market wages paid by many of the government jobs it subsidized, which resulted in some private employers losing employees and having to spend costly sums training their replacements. As a result of the stimulus, grant recipients “poached workers from their competitors,” financially injuring those companies.

Meanwhile, by sucking money out of the private-sector economy, the stimulus wiped out a million private-sector jobs, even as other stimulus provisions outsourced American energy jobs to foreign countries, and wiped out jobs in America’s export sector, resulting in a net loss to the economy of 550,000 jobs, according to two economists. The Obama administration’s use of taxpayer money to subsidize above-market wages for government employees is at odds with what economists like Lord Keynes (the father of the Keynesian school of economics) counseled in past recessions, and what Franklin Roosevelt did in the Great Depression, when he hired people to do construction and transportation projects in the WPA but paid them only very modest wages, providing opportunities to the unemployed without siphoning off useful talent from private-sector businesses.

Continuing unemployment benefits at current levels for the long-term unemployed is a mistake. Generous unemployment benefits discourage people from taking lower-paying jobs, and sometimes result in people gaming the system. Giving people unemployment benefits for years on end, without scaling down those benefits, encourages people not to relocate in search of work, and not to take productive jobs that they think are beneath them, even if those jobs are the only jobs that they will realistically find once their jobless benefits come to an end, because of the disappearance of the type of job they once performed.

As the Heritage Foundation notes, “The consequences of extended unemployment benefits are some of the most conclusively established results in labor economic research. Extending either the amount or the duration of UI benefits increases the length of time that workers remain unemployed. UI benefits subsidize unemployment. They reduce the incentive unemployed workers have to search for new work and to make difficult choices–such as moving or switching industries–to begin a new job.”

The President’s proposed subsidies for laid-off teachers discriminate in favor of one occupation, without any legitimate reason for doing so: the unemployment rate among teachers is vastly lower than for many occupations, and lower than for most. It is best understood as the Administration pandering to the teachers’ unions. The proposed payroll tax cut will increase the deficit (which will increase debt-service costs in the long run, thus crowding out private investment over the long haul) while creating relatively few jobs. (The CBO similarly concluded that the $800 billion stimulus package would shrink the size of the economy over the long run by increasing the national debt and thus resulting in increased government spending on interest payments that will crowd out private investment).

SOURCE. (See the original for links)


Fascism by another name

The ever-increasing control over every aspect of people's lives that is driven by America's Left makes America more and more like a classic Fascist state. Since the Fascists were Leftists this is no surprise but it a worrisome direction for America to be travelling in. Great swathes of liberty have been lost and more losses are on the way

First, and this is key, we must look at the economic system. The liberals are proud to have had a role in creating its socially democratic elements. The conservatives are proud of America’s towering financial and military institutions. Republicans and Democrats all pretend America has a free enterprise system, attacking greedy profiteers while crediting themselves for the benefits of capitalism, blaming laissez faire for all our problems while dissonantly congratulating themselves for having supplanted it with sensible regulation and safety nets once and for all.

The dirty little secret is that there has been a bipartisan project of corporatism, the economic underpinning of fascism, for almost a century. The regulatory bureaus, the banking establishment, agricultural policy, telecommunications planning, even the welfare state all enrich corporate interests, but at the ultimate direction of the state. One could say this arrangement was foreshadowed in Lincoln or even Hamilton. But it was during the World Wars and New Deal that the nation embarked upon something decisively fascistic.

Hitler, Mussolini, and the other fascists all employed a general approach of co-opting the market through huge governmental takeovers of industry while maintaining the pretense of private property. Along with this came interventions that would be considered socialistic in other contexts. Lew Rockwell very nicely summed up the economic programs of Hitler, which mirror the great prides of Progressive politics of the 20th century:
He suspended the gold standard, embarked on huge public works programs like Autobahns, protected industry from foreign competition, expanded credit, instituted jobs programs, bullied the private sector on prices and production decisions, vastly expanded the military, enforced capital controls, instituted family planning, penalized smoking, brought about national health care and unemployment insurance, imposed education standards, and eventually ran huge deficits. The Nazi interventionist program was essential to the regime's rejection of the market economy and its embrace of socialism in one country.

Much of this agenda was adopted in the United States during World War I, and then brought back to life in the New Deal. John T. Flynn, a leftist who initially supported Franklin Roosevelt then became disenchanted with the president’s program of central planning, described the 1930s atmosphere of political ideology in his seminal work, The Roosevelt Myth:
There was indeed a good deal of tolerance for the idea of planning our capitalist system even in the most conservative circles. And a man could support publicly and with vehemence this system of the Planned Economy without incurring the odium of being too much of a radical for polite and practical society.

There was only one trouble with it. This was what Mussolini had adopted – the Planned Capitalist State. And he gave it a name – fascism. Then came Hitler and adopted the same idea. His party was called the Nazi party, which was derived from the initials of its true name, but it was dedicated to fascism. . . .

Whatever it was, it was the direct opposite of liberalism. It was an attempt, somewhere between Communism and capitalism, to organize a stable society and to do it by setting up a State equipped with massive powers over the lives and fortunes of the citizens. . . . Yet this curiously un-American doctrine was being peddled in America as the bright flower of the liberals. Of course they did not call it fascism, because that had a bad name. . . . They called in the Planned economy. But it was and is fascism by whatever name it is known.

In specific, FDR’s National Recovery Administration was fashioned after the industrial policy of Mussolini. Flynn explains:
[Mussolini] organized each trade or industrial group or professional group into a state-supervised trade association. He called it a corporative. These corporatives operated under state supervision and could plan production, quality, prices, distribution, labor standards, etc. The NRA provided that in America each industry should be organized into a federally supervised trade association. It was not called a corporative. It was called a Code Authority. But it was essentially the same thing. These code authorities could regulate production, quantities, qualities, prices, distribution methods, etc., under the supervision of the NRA. This was fascism.

Such an analysis of the New Deal as fascism is not only found in the Old Right or their libertarian successors. Historian Thaddeus Russell’s great chapter "Behold a Dictator: Fascism and the New Deal" in his new book A Renegade History of the United States comes from a leftist perspective and arrives at much the same conclusions. Many of the greatest progressive intellectuals and business elites of Roosevelt’s time were especially enamored of Mussolini’s regime. "The men who made the New Deal were driven by dreams of a machinelike society, in which all members, from the leaders of government to the lowliest workers, would be parts designed, built, and employed entirely for their function within the whole apparatus. But to their dismay, these men found that most Americans rejected such dreams, except during times of crisis. The First World War was the first such crisis. . . . But then came the peace and prosperity of the 1920s, a long time of waiting for another national emergency that could make their fantasies of social order come true."

This mirrors Robert Higgs’s ratchet effect thesis and the insights found in his books Crisis and Leviathan and Depression, War, and Cold War, in regard both to the general expansion of state power during crises and the particular ways World War I and the New Deal solidified a state that Higgs has, with a nod to Charlotte Twight, referred to as "participatory fascism."

What makes FDR’s role in American fascism so insidious is that as the greatest 20th century liberal president who led America to war with the Nazis, he is often characterized as the prototypical U.S. anti-fascist. The great Smedley Butler, a brilliant critic of America’s merchants of death, was very concerned that reactionary forces along with the military came close to dethroning FDR and creating a fascist regime. But one must ask, could anyone tell the difference? What would the anti-FDR fascists do – wage total war? Nationalize the economy? Put American citizens into concentration camps based on race? Create a permanent military-corporate establishment? To discuss a possible fascist coup in the years of Franklin Roosevelt is to ignore that it in fact happened – a "revolution within the form," as Garet Garrett described it.

Also insidious is the great respect most Republicans have for FDR, whether it’s acknowledged or not. Reagan was a devout New Dealer who never abandoned this orientation when he became governor or president. George W. Bush’s entire economic program was also thoroughly Rooseveltian – expanding Medicare to the benefit of the pharmaceutical companies, an Ownership Society (how fascist does that sound!?) intended to shore up the real estate and finance sectors, an attempt to corporatize Social Security (thereby saving FDR’s domestic triumph, itself a copy from a Prussian program of the 19th century), the bipartisan bailouts of financial institutions, steel tariffs, further nationalization of education, and all the rest.

The Democrats, for their part, continue with the fascist economics they adopted four generations ago, and it leads to a good deal of confusion as they are the "liberal" party. Yet when Obama plans to force individuals to buy private health insurance, picks corporate giants to head up regulatory offices, schemes to create a phony market in carbon credits, and widens the revolving door between Wall Street and the Oval Office, he along with his party is only continuing down the road of their Mussolinian predecessors.

One of the most horrifying parts of fascist economics, autarky, has even been mimicked by all presidents since Nixon in their crazed calls for "energy independence." We also see it in the hysteria about jobs being oursourced. Today it often has an environmental spin, and there is not the beating on the podium and screaming of Lebensraum, but the protectionism and codependency between favored American businesses and the omnipotent state, all with a nationalist focus, are nevertheless there for anyone to see.

It could be countered that many other nations have corporate states as well. Perhaps they too have fascist tendencies. Yet there are a few corporatist features singular to the United States. As the holder of the world’s reserve currency, and given that money is half of most economic transactions, the United States boasts one of the most significant corporatist arrangements in the world in its alliance between the Federal Reserve and the big banks. The U.S. government, in absolute terms, claims the largest of all regressive welfare programs in the form of Social Security. It is likely the global leader in intellectual property enforcement, both in domestic and international terms, with most nations trailing considerably behind in this increasingly draconian form of corporate privilege. As the grandest leviathan preying over the world’s richest nation, the U.S. corporate state is in its own class.

Flynn’s insight that the economic structure of America’s planned economy is fascist whatever label we affix to it is echoed in a much more recent and popular authority. In an episode of South Park, Kyle the idiosyncratically precocious kid has this great exchange with his father:
Kyle’s dad: "You see Kyle, we live in a liberal-democratic society, and democrats make sexual harassment laws, these laws tell us what we can and can't say in the work place, and what we can and can't do in the work place."

Kyle: "Isn't that Fascism?"

Kyle’s dad: "No, because we don't call it Fascism."

Up and down the economy, at all levels of government, bureaucrats and planners dictate details in nearly all areas of economic behavior, with the principle that some sectors should simply be free of government intrusion having been totally discarded. If we have large swaths of economic liberty in America, and we do, this is by accident, or merely due to the state’s institutional limits in being able to run everything. The ideological thrust of U.S. economic policy is that we may live our commercial lives freer than in many places, but all upon the good graces of the state, its cartels, licensing boards, and regulatory apparatuses. Even our homes are private property only insofar as it serves the interest of the state, which claims the right to seize anything we own if it bolsters the tax receipts garnered through the state-business nexus. The business environment adheres to a rapidly expanding litany of commercial codes, many of them designed not even by legislature but by executive or judicial fiat. Taken together, this is the essence of economic fascism.



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, September 09, 2011

Obama's Combative Save-My-Job Speech

Targeted tax credits for businesses and individuals (not all of which are bad ideas, but that economists agree won't make much of a dent). Infrastructure spending on highways, bridges, and schools. Bailouts to states to help save government jobs. Mortgage bailouts. Job training programs. Unspecific regulatory reform. Not all of these proposal are necessarily bad, but not one of them is new.

It was the 2009 Recovery Act all over again, except with a smaller (but still gargantuan) price tag -- and without any acknowledgement of the previous stimulus and its abject failures. As Body Snatcher Obama tends to do, the president spoke tonight as if this was his very first jobs plan. Relevant, inconvenient context (think "shovel ready jobs") was nowhere to be found. Indeed, if this were such an obvious, "not controversial" set of ideas, why didn't Democrats pass them easily when they controlled every elected lever of power in Washington for two full years?

The tone and tenor of the address, which was sprinkled with superficial appeals to bipartisanship, was highly political and practically unhelpful. Strawmen were introduced and torched at record pace. Lost in the shuffle, the cost of this grand scheme somehow jumped from $300 Billion on Tuesday to nearly $450 Billion today. Those are estimates, of course, because there is no tangible legislation yet. Which means it can't be passed "right away," nor can it be scored by the CBO. As we've learned many times in recent months, the CBO cannot score a speech. But not to worry, America. Everything is paid for! How? I'll let the president explain the nitty-gritty specifics:
The agreement we passed in July will cut government spending by about $1 trillion over the next ten years. It also charges this Congress to come up with an additional $1.5 trillion in savings by Christmas. Tonight, I’m asking you to increase that amount so that it covers the full cost of the American Jobs Act. And a week from Monday, I’ll be releasing a more ambitious deficit plan – a plan that will not only cover the cost of this jobs bill, but stabilize our debt in the long run. This approach is basically the one I’ve been advocating for months.

That's right, Obama punted the heavy lifting to the super-committee, and pledged to introduce another general deficit plan in twelve days. How, or if, this will differ from his unanimously-defeated February budget, or his dreadful April deficit speech, is anybody's guess. He does give us a big clue, though: It's "basically the [same ideas] I've been advocating for months." This likely means very modest changes to unsustainable entitlement programs and big tax hikes on the rich. Absolutely nothing new. In short, Obama insisted on a nationally-televised joint session address to describe an old plan which will be funded by a plan he'll describe later. What a joke.

Two quick examples that illustrate why this entire spectacle was a sham:

(1) Obama lamented teacher layoffs: "While they’re adding teachers in places like South Korea, we’re laying them off in droves. It’s unfair to our kids. It undermines their future and ours. And it has to stop. Pass this jobs bill, and put our teachers back in the classroom where they belong." But later in the speech, he went out of his way to condemn budget fixes like Wisconsin's, which limited collective bargaining "rights" for government employees, but has saved thousands of teachers' jobs.

(2) The president demanded swift action on three pending trade agreements, heavily implying that Congress has been dragging its feet on these items: "Now it’s time to clear the way for a series of trade agreements that would make it easier for American companies to sell their products in Panama, Colombia, and South Korea..." But the reason these agreements have stalled is because he refuses to send them to Congress unless Republicans agree to lard them up with special goodies for labor unions.

Republicans should help pass the acceptable and benign features of this plan, insist that it's all really paid for (without raising taxes in a recession), and resist its worst elements.

Yuval Levin summarizes: "Spend $450 billion dollars now, it will create jobs, and I’ll tell you how I’m going to pay for it a week from Monday. If you disagree, you want to expose kids to mercury."



Rick Perry knows his history

But putting history into reverse is a big ask

In an article last Friday, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson wrote an interesting article entitled “Rick Perry’s Campaign Against the New Deal,” in which Gerson pointed out several radical things that Perry has stated in the past about Franklin Roosevelt’s famous program.

According to Gerson, Perry told Newsweek last fall, “I happen to think that the Progressive movement was the beginning of the deterioration of our Constitution from the standpoint of it being abused and misused to do things that Congress wanted to do, and/or the Supreme Court wanted to implement. The New Deal was the launching pad for the Washington largess as we know it today.”

Gerson also observes that Perry has pointed out that Social Security, which is the crown jewel of the New Deal and the modern-day welfare state, is a “Ponzi scheme,” a “monstrous lie,” and a “failure” that “we have been forced to accept for more than 70 years now.”

That’s not exactly the kind of rhetoric that is common to conservatives — well, at least not for the past several decades. That’s the way libertarians talk! For years, we’ve been pointing out that Roosevelt’s new-fangled program that he foisted on the American people was nothing more than a socialist-fascist system, one that rejected the principles of economic liberty, private property, and limited government on which America was founded.

Consider, for example, Roosevelt’s National Industrial Recovery Act, which established cartels for American businesses and industries, cartels that would work in partnership with the federal government to set prices, wages, production, and working conditions.

How could such a system not be considered fascist? It’s precisely the type of program that Benito Mussolini was establishing in fascist Italy.

Moreover, Roosevelt’s infamous Blue Eagle campaign, with its program of threats and intimidation against businessmen who refused to participate, was straight out of Mussolini’s playbook.

For an excellent analysis of Roosevelt’s socialist-fascist program, I recommend the book Three New Deals: Reflections on Roosevelt’s America, Mussolini’s Italy, and Hitler’s Germany, 1933-1939 by Wolfgang Schivelbusch.

Here’s a review of the book by David Boaz of the Cato Institute entitled “Hitler, Mussolini, Roosevelt.”

Hitler? Yes Hitler, whose program of National Socialism included Social Security, public works, a military-industrial complex, government health care, public schooling, and government-business partnerships. Why wouldn’t he love Roosevelt’s new-fangled program for America? Consider this passage from John Toland’s biography of Hitler:

Hitler had genuine admiration for the decisive manner in which the President had taken over the reins of government. “I have sympathy for Mr. Roosevelt,” he told a correspondent for the New York Times two months later, “because he marches straight toward his objectives over Congress, lobbies and bureaucracy.” Hitler went on to note that he was the sole leader in Europe who expressed “understanding of the methods and motives of President Roosevelt.”

Consider this personal note that Hitler sent Roosevelt through U.S. Ambassador Thomas Dodd on March 14, 1934, reflecting the economic philosophy shared in common by Hitler and Roosevelt:

The Reich chancellor requests Mr. Dodd to present his greetings to President Roosevelt. He congratulates the president upon his heroic effort in the interest of the American people. The president's successful struggle against economic distress is being followed by the entire German people with interest and admiration. The Reich chancellor is in accord with the president that the virtues of sense of duty, readiness for sacrifice, and discipline must be the supreme rule of the whole nation. This moral demand, which the president is addressing to every single citizen, is only the quintessence of German philosophy of the state, expressed in the motto "The public weal before the private gain."

So, what will Perry do now? Will he call for the immediate dismantling of a system that he himself knows is immoral and destructive? Or will he do what most every conservative has done since the 1930s — abandon his principles and meekly support Social Security, Medicare, and the entire welfare state he himself condemns?

My hunch: He’ll throw in the towel, in order to appear more mainstream, more credible.

Why do I say that? Because ever since the New Deal, conservatives have always caved. That’s been their modus. In the 1930s and 1940s, there were still conservatives who talked like we libertarians talk today, but as the years went by they realized that to speak the truth about the New Deal and, later, the Great Society, might well cost them votes, influence, money, and political power.

Thus, conservatives learned to seal their lips and, even worse, began promoting the idea to their children and others that Roosevelt’s socialist-fascist program was actually a much-needed reform that saved America’s free enterprise system.

Gerson gives two examples of conservative cave-ins.

In his 1976 presidential campaign. Ronald Reagan stated, “Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal.” But his presidency, Gerson points out, was “an extended accommodation with the New Deal…. Social Security spending rose dramatically during the Reagan years.”

In his 1964 campaign, Barry Goldwater stated, “I think Social Security ought to be voluntary.” But when challenged, Goldwater answered, “I don’t know where you ever got the idea.”

What’s interesting is that Perry is a devout Christian. Why, just recently he hosted a national prayer session in Houston in which thousands attended. If he caves, which is likely, how is he going to reconcile his religious devotion with his support of a program that he himself knows is immoral and destructive? How does he resolve it within his own conscience? How does he explain his abandonment to God?

The amusing part of this controversy is that for years the mainstream has marginalized libertarians for speaking the truth about what Roosevelt did to our nation with his socialist-fascist program, and yet here is a mainstream presidential candidate leading the polls in the Republican Party spouting the same things we libertarians have been saying for decades. How’s that for funny?

I’d like to think that this time things will be different. I’d like to hope that Perry will be one conservative who won’t surrender, who won’t reject his own beliefs, who won’t trade himself for a mess of pottage, one who will call for the immediate dismantling of Social Security, Medicare, and the rest of the socialist-fascist scheme that Roosevelt foisted upon our nation. I’m not holding my breath.



Prophecies of an egalitarian utopia based on false assumptions

As the British parliament rose for its summer recess this year, Opposition Leader Ed Miliband handed the members of his shadow cabinet some holiday homework. He told them to read a book that has been capturing the attention of the Left, not only in Britain but across the Western world.

Written by a couple of socialist academics, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, the book is called The Spirit Level. The clue to why so many on the Left have been drawn to it is in the subtitle: Why Equality is Better for Everyone.

This book seeks to reinstate radical income redistribution at the heart of the Left's political agenda. Socialists always have believed in greater equality, of course, but until now their case has rested on an ethical principle that it is morally wrong for some people to have a lot more money than others.

As with all ethical principles, this can be challenged. Why should people who work hard have the fruits of their labour taken away to be given to lazier folk, for example? The Right points out that hard work and risk deserve reward, and equalising shares can be quite immoral.

The Spirit Level aims to break away from these ethical conundrums and to replace them with the authority of science. It says governments should redistribute incomes, not because it is moral but because equality produces happier people and better-functioning societies. It claims everybody stands to benefit from income redistribution, rich and poor alike.

If this claim were true, it would pull the rug from under the feet of the Right. If a radical redistribution of income and wealth really did benefit everybody, how could the Right continue to hold out against it? The case for high taxes, big government and massive income transfers would be unanswerable. But it's not true. This book has many flaws (even though Miliband, and others on the Left appear blind to them).

The book's evidence consists of a series of graphs apparently showing that people in more equal countries live longer, are less likely to get murdered, enjoy higher literacy rates, suffer less mental illness and trust each other more. These findings are repeated for the 50 US states, where the authors find that states with the widest income spread have worse outcomes. But little of this evidence stands up to critical scrutiny.

Their sample of countries is biased. It excludes nations such as South Korea, where strong social outcomes coexist with high income inequality, as well as those such as the Czech Republic, with poor social outcomes despite a compressed income distribution.

Their choice of measures is also biased. Community strength is measured by whether people say they trust their neighbours, but membership of voluntary organisations is ignored. Drug dependency is included as an indicator of social pathology but not alcohol abuse. Murders likewise are in, but suicides are out. Prison numbers are analysed, but not crime figures. Government aid to foreign countries is included as a measure of generosity and compassion, but not private donations to charities. High teenage births are analysed as an indicator of family dysfunction, but not high divorce rates.

What is striking about this list of inclusions and exclusions is that, in every case, the measures that Wilkinson and Pickett selected fit their argument while the alternative measures would have undermined it. In short, they cherry-picked.

Their data analysis, too, is suspect, for they allow extreme cases to create the appearance of an association where there is none. For example, they claim that inequality produces a higher homicide rate, but this depends entirely on the US, where the murder rate is three times higher than anywhere else. Look beyond the US and you often find the most equal countries, such as Sweden and Finland, have a worse murder rate than less equal ones, including Britain and Australia. Yet appealing to their misleading graph, the authors claim Britain's murder rate would be three times lower if it had Scandinavian levels of income inequality.

The Scandinavians, it is true, do fare better than the "Anglo" countries on many of their measures, but this is not because inequality is lower in Scandinavia. It rather reflects the homogeneity of the Nordic countries as against the diversity of the Anglo nations, for the greater the social mix, the weaker the social bonds tend to be. We see this clearly in the variations between US states. Wilkinson and Pickett find the more equal states (usually those in the northeast) do better than the less equal ones (concentrated in the south).

But had they taken account of the ethnic mix of these states, they would have found ethnicity is a much stronger predictor of social outcomes than income distribution. Ethnicity is 18 times more powerful in predicting a state's infant mortality rate, for example.

The issue of equality is important, and it generates strong and impassioned arguments on both sides. But The Spirit Level is little more than polemic. It is to be hoped that we do not allow its spurious claims to scientific status to muddy the waters of our political and moral debate.



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, September 08, 2011

Left Paints the Campaign as a Religious War

Bigotry comes easily to the Left when it suits them

The fundamental facts of the presidential race at this moment are that unemployment is high, the economy is by far the most important issue to American voters, and President Obama's handling of economic questions is overwhelmingly unpopular. Republican presidential hopefuls Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and others are hammering the president daily on matters of job creation and economic growth.

Now some of Obama's activist allies and supporters in the press are engaged in a sharply focused effort to change the subject. Even as economic anxieties continue to rise, some of the nation's premier political journalists are consumed with the alleged influences of obscure religious philosophers on Republican candidates; on questions of creationism, evolution and the age of the Earth; and on the fantasy that a Republican president might transform the United States into an Iranian-style theocracy.

For example, the Daily Beast/Newsweek recently published an article titled "A Christian Plot for Domination?" claiming that Perry and Bachmann are "deeply associated with a theocratic strain of Christian fundamentalism" known as dominionism. A widely discussed article in the Texas Observer claimed that dominionists -- a "little-known movement of radical Christians" -- are readying an "army of God" to "commandeer civilian government," with Perry the "vessel" for their ambitions. Finally, The New Yorker published a long article claiming that Bachmann believes "Christians, and Christians alone, are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns."

Surveying those articles, the executive editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller, concludes that "an unusually large number" of Republican candidates "belong to churches that are mysterious or suspect to many Americans." Perry and Bachmann, in particular, are connected to "fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity," which Keller says "has raised concerns about their respect for the separation of church and state, not to mention the separation of fact and fiction." Fearing that Perry or Bachmann could be a "Trojan horse" for a religious takeover of the government, Keller advocates strict questioning of candidates on doctrinal issues.

Put aside whether there is some bias against Christianity in these baseless charges, or whether liberals are proposing the kind of religious test for office that the Founders explicitly rejected. It has often been remarked that, given today's terrible economy, Barack Obama cannot run in 2012 on the theme of hope, as he did in 2008. With his record, he'll have to run on fear -- that is, on convincing voters that Republicans are just too scary to elect.

This is what running on fear looks like. Could the president's political strategists be anything less than delighted with the work of Keller and his colleagues?

Out on the campaign trail, Democratic activists are trying to maneuver the candidates into statements to feed the Republicans-are-religious-nuts narrative. For example, in New Hampshire a few weeks ago, a young boy approached Perry with a series of questions about science. How old is the Earth? the boy asked. As Perry answered (he said he didn't know), the boy's mother pushed her son to confront the governor. "Ask him about evolution," she ordered the boy. "Ask him why he doesn't believe in science." Perry's answer -- that evolution is a theory that has "some gaps" -- provided more material for Keller and the subject-changers.

Elsewhere on the trail, so-called "trackers" from the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, David Brock's American Bridge and other organizations follow Republicans around, sometimes posing out-of-the-blue questions in hopes of throwing a candidate off message. "It's all about homosexuality, Islam, anything that is remotely sensitive socially," says Ellen Carmichael, spokeswoman for frequent target Herman Cain. "That's what they usually ask about."

Not even the longest of long-shot candidates is immune. Back in May, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson spoke at a tea party rally in Greenville, S.C., touting his record on job creation and spending cuts. After Johnson's talk, a staffer for the Center for American Progress approached him with questions about Shariah law. Johnson was baffled.

Meanwhile, with the economy still tanking, some liberal commentators have worked themselves into a virtual panic over religion. On one recent day, a Washington Post columnist declared flatly that "Rick Perry is a theocrat," while another discussed the urgent task of "saving America from Rick Perry."

Will these diversionary efforts succeed? Political journalists can talk about theocracy all they want, but Americans are still overwhelmingly concerned with jobs. The more hysterical the religious speculation becomes, the more voters will be able to spot an effort to change the subject.



American Jews and the Liberal Art of Demonization

Caroline Glick

US election season is clearly upon us as US President Barack Obama has moved into full campaign mode. Part and parcel of that mode is a new bid to woo Jewish voters and donors upset by Obama's hostility to Israel back in the Democratic Party's fold.

To undertake this task, the White House turned to its reliable defender, columnist Jeffrey Goldberg. Since 2008, when then-candidate Obama was first challenged on his anti-Israel friends, pastors and positions, Goldberg has willingly used his pen to defend Obama to the American Jewish community.

Trying to portray Obama as pro-Israel is not a simple task. From the outset of his tenure in office, Obama has distinguished himself as the most anti-Israel president ever.

Obama is the first president ever to denounce Jewish property rights in Jerusalem. He is the first president to require Israel to deny Jews property rights in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria as a precondition for peace talks with the Palestinians.

He is the first US president to adopt the position that Israel must surrender its right to defensible borders in the framework of a peace treaty. He has even made Israeli acceptance of this position a precondition for negotiations.

He is the first US president to accept Hamas as a legitimate actor in Palestinian politics. Obama's willingness to do so was exposed by his refusal to end US financial assistance to the PA in the aftermath of last spring's unity agreement between Fatah and Hamas.

He is the first US president to make US support for Israel at the UN conditional on Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.

Even today, Obama has refused to state outright whether or not he will veto a Security Council resolution later this month endorsing Palestinian statehood outside the context of a peace treaty with Israel. As he leaves Israel twisting in the wind, he has sent his chief Middle East Peace Processors Dennis Ross and David Hale to Israel to threaten Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into caving to US-Palestinian demands and beg PA leader Mahmoud Abbas to accept an Israeli surrender and cancel his plans to have the UN General Assembly upgrade the PLO's mission to the UN.

Given Obama's record - to which can be added his fervent support for Turkish Prime Minister and virulent anti-Semite Recep Tayyip Erdogan, his courtship of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and his massive weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and Egypt - it is obvious that any attempt to argue that Obama is pro-Israel cannot be based on substance, or even on tone. And so Goldberg's article, like several that preceded it, is an attempt to distort Obama's record and deflect responsibility for that record onto Netanyahu. Netanyahu, in turn, is demonized as ungrateful and uncooperative.

Goldberg's narrative began by recalling Netanyahu's extraordinary statement during his photo opportunity with Obama at the Oval Office during his visit to Washington in May. At the time, Netanyahu gave an impassioned defense of Israel's right to secure borders and explained why the 1949 armistice lines are indefensible.

Goldberg centered on then-secretary of defense Robert Gates's angry statement to his colleagues in the wake of Netanyahu's visit. Gates reportedly accused Israel of being ungrateful for all the things the US did for it.

After presenting Gates as an objective critic whose views were justified and shared by one and all, Goldberg went on to claim that the administration's justified antipathy for Netanyahu was liable to harm Israel. That is, he claimed that it would be Netanyahu's fault if Obama abandoned traditional US support for Israel.

Goldberg's article is stunning on several levels. First, his distortion of events is breathtaking. Specifically he failed to note that Netanyahu's statement at the Oval Office was precipitated by Obama's decision to blindside Netanyahu with his announcement that the US supported an Israeli withdrawal to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines. Obama made the statement in a speech given while Netanyahu was en route to Washington.

Then there is his portrayal of Gates as an objective observer. Goldberg failed to mention that Gates's record has been consistently anti-Israel. In his Senate approval hearings during the Bush administration, Gates became the first senior US official to state publicly that Israel had a nuclear arsenal.

Gates was a member of the 2006 Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group that recommended the US pressure Israel to surrender Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights in order to appease the Arab world and pave the way for a US withdrawal from Iraq.

Gates did everything he could at the Pentagon to deny Israel the ability to attack Iran's nuclear installations. He was also a fervent advocate of massive arms sales to Saudi Arabia that upset the military balance in the Middle East.

The Obama administration bases its claims that it is pro-Israel on the fact that it has continued and expanded some of the joint US-Israel missile defense projects that were initiated by the Bush administration. Goldberg sympathetically recorded the argument.

But the truth is less sanguine. While jointly developing defensive systems, the administration has placed unprecedented restrictions on the export of offensive military platforms and technologies to Israel. Under Gates, Pentagon constraints on Israeli technology additions to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighters nearly forced Israel to cancel its plans to purchase the aircraft.

It is an open question whether American Jews will be willing to buy the bill of goods the administration is trying to sell them through their media proxies in next year's presidential elections. But if next week's special elections for New York's Ninth Congressional District are any indication, the answer is apparently that an unprecedented number of American Jews are unwilling to ignore reality and support the most anti-Israel president ever.

The New York race is attracting great attention because it is serving as a referendum on Obama's policies toward Israel. The district, representing portions of Queens and Brooklyn, is heavily Jewish and has been reliably Democratic. And yet, a week before the elections, Republican candidate Bob Turner is tied in the polls with Democratic candidate David Weprin, and the main issue in the race is Obama's policies on Israel.

To sidestep criticism of the president's record, Weprin is seeking to distance himself from Obama. He refuses to say if he will support Obama's reelection bid. And he is as critical of Obama's record on Israel as his Republican opponent is.

But Turner's argument - that as a Democrat, Weprin will be forced to support his party and so support Obama - is gaining traction with voters. According to a McLaughlin poll of the district released on September 1, Turner's bid is gaining steam, and Weprin's is running out of steam, with Turner's favorability rates on the rise and Weprin's declining.

Deflecting substantive criticism by seeking to demonize one's opponents is a standard leftist play. Obama and his political supporters engage in it routinely in their demonization of their political opponents as "terrorists" and "extremists." And now, with the American Jewish vote in play for the first time since 1936, they are doing it to Netanyahu.

It is encouraging to see that at least in New York's Ninth Congressional District, American Jews are refusing to be taken in.



Americans Vote Conservative--With Their Moving Vans

Conservatives yearn for a big, clarifying electoral victory in November of 2012, but they’re already winning decisively whenever Americans vote with their feet--or their moving vans.

New Census numbers show citizens fleeing by the millions from liberal states and flocking in comparable numbers to bastions of rightwing sentiment. Call it the Great Political Migration.

Between 2009 and 2010 the five biggest losers in terms of “residents lost to other states” were all prominent redoubts of progressivism: California, New York, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey. Meanwhile, the five biggest winners in the relocation sweepstakes are all commonly identified as “red states” in which Republicans generally dominate local politics: Florida, Texas, North Carolina, Arizona and Georgia. Expanding the review to a 10-year span, the biggest population gainers (in percentage terms) have been even more conservative than last year’s winners: Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho and Texas, in that order.

The shift in national demographics has already rearranged the playing field for the upcoming presidential election. States that Barack Obama carried were the biggest losers in the reapportionment that followed the 2010 Census, with New York and Ohio dropping two electoral votes each. Texas, meanwhile, gained a whopping four votes all by its Lone Star lonesome self. Even in the unlikely event that Obama carried exactly the same states he carried in 2008, he’d still win six fewer electoral votes in 2012. Even more tellingly, if the epic Bush-Gore battle of 2000 played out on the new Electoral College map, with the two candidates carrying precisely the states they each won 11 years ago, the result would have been a far more clear-cut GOP victory margin of 33 electoral votes (instead of the five-vote nail-biter recorded in history books).

Fifty years ago, the United States saw a mass migration from East to West. Today we’re witnessing a comparable migration from left to right.

This significant shift in population not only presents progressives with significant problems in terms of practical politics, but also confronts them with profound ideological challenges.

If liberal approaches work so well, why are so many people choosing to pack their bags and desert some of the most progressive, pro-labor, big-government states in the union?

And if uncompromising conservatism is a cruel, fraudulent disaster, why do small government, pro-business, low tax, gun-toting and church-going states draw such a disproportionate number of America’s internal immigrants?




US Army orders its first batch of hand held killer drones: "Soldiers who fly hand-launched drone scouts to spot enemies on the battlefield may soon get a deadly robotic device capable of also delivering a knockout blow. The U.S. Army has ordered its first batch of small suicide drones that are capable of launching from a small tube, loitering in the sky and then diving at a target upon command. The backpack-size 'Switchblade' drone and its launch tube give individual soldiers a new level of precise control over an explosive weapon."

A case against the case against Walmart: "Walmart's effect on prices -- particularly food prices -- is one of the reasons economist Jason Furman called the company 'a progressive success story.' Walmart's effect on food prices disproportionately benefits poorer households, which tend to spend a larger percentage of their income on food than wealthier households."

Soaking the rich is not fair: "Liberals view high income -- meaning any income that exceeds their own -- as the result of luck or anti-social behavior. Hence liberals believe 'fairness' justifies government-imposed transfers from the rich to everyone else. Many conservatives accept this view implicitly. They oppose soak-the-rich policies because of concern over growth, but they do not dispute whether such policies are fair."


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, September 07, 2011

President Zero

It hasn’t happened in the lifetimes of anyone who isn’t eligible for social security.

Zero net jobs were created in the month of August for the first time since 1945. It is almost mind boggling to think about what may turn out to be this President’s singular accomplishment — ending a 792 month job creation winning streak for the American economy.

Historians will be looking to determine just how the Obama Administration reached this milestone? What were Obama’s secrets? Just how did he spend almost a trillion dollars in ‘stimulus’ funding and get to a very round number? The search for answers takes us around the country and indeed around the globe.

In Seattle, Washington, the federal government spent $20 million dollars on a federal grant to weatherize homes as part of their greening of America plan. How many jobs were created for $20 million? Fourteen total, eight of which are specifically tasked with administratively handling the grant.

The green economic boom continues in California where the Obama Administration provided Solyndra Corporation, a $550 million loan guarantee to make solar panels. The President himself thought so highly of this company and its future that he visited this Bay Area factory last year. So, it shouldn’t be surprising that the business visited by the man with the reverse Midas touch just announced that 1,100 workers will be laid off immediately and it is expected to file for bankruptcy.

In his zeal to promote job creation, this president pumped $2 billion into an offshore oil drilling operation that promises to create a secure energy future — in Brazil. While in the U.S., the same president is blocking offshore oil drilling that would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs, and in reaction to the Gulf oil spill has driven job creators out of business. After all, it’s not easy being green.

Of course, Obama’s taxpayer funded venture capitalist misadventures are not solely responsible for his getting the first zero on a monthly job creation scorecard since Harry Truman was reincorporating hundreds of thousands of troops coming home from the Big One.

His Administration partners in crime have jumped into the job destruction game with an almost unparalleled zeal.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has been at the forefront in the Obama quest for zero. Her agency has promised new air quality regulations that are estimated to eliminate 1.4 million jobs by 2020, while just one regulation in her war on coal is projected to eliminate 800,000 jobs. Of course, Jackson is not content to just use her agency’s new found authority to push a radical anti-job agenda using the Clean Air Act, as she is also using the Clean Water Act to put mining and other resource industries under the gun.

While Jackson has been incredibly effective at stifling our nation’s job creation to zero, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s continuous calls for higher taxes on job creators cannot be ignored as a factor in the Obama zero strategy.

Of course, you can’t get to zero without an active Labor Department, and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis has been a vigorous conspirator in the fight. Her focus on bringing employers to heel through OSHA and Wage and Hour regulators, who sometimes seem to have been turned into proxy union organizers, has certainly created the business climate necessary for the Obama success story.

The Obama labor team of course includes his National Labor Relations Board appointees who have received notoriety for their decision to battle Boeing Corporation because they had the audacity to try to create new jobs in South Carolina.

But you cannot really have the perfect storm unless you threaten the bottom line of every company in the nation by “reforming” health care and increasing their per employee costs substantially. Nothing quite stimulates hiring new people like the specter of facing a major per employee cost increase in the near future, and O’s continued aggressive regulatory pursuit of this major bureaucratic boondoggle is the coup de grace that ensured his achieving his zero.

It takes a lot to achieve something that not even Jimmy Carter dreamed of, and the entire Obama team deserves full credit for what they have done.

Unfortunately, this attainment hasn’t been fully appreciated within the Administration as the President himself offered a curt no comment on the August employment numbers while he raced to catch Marine One for a quick trip to his weekend retreat at Camp David. Of course, no one can blame him for needing a rest, after all, he had been back on the job from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation for a full four days.

Having created these changes that no one had hoped for it is not hard to understand why O is becoming known by the new superhero name, President Zero.



And now a word from a job creator

Fear rules as government acts like a runaway train

By Mike Whalen, founder of Heart of America Group, which owns and operates hotels and restaurants

As a job-creating entrepreneur out here in the hinterlands, I am amazed at the Keynesian priests in Washington calling for more stimulus fueled by debt.

“The Rev.” Paul Krugman, “the Rev.” Robert Reich and their many cohorts argue that the stimulus was too small to offset falling aggregate demand and that the prescription for our laggard economy is another, bigger stimulus.

Those who talk about Keynesian economic theory think economic contractions are worsened and prolonged because consumers and businesses hunker down in caution, causing aggregate demand to fall. We can all agree this has happened.

According to the Keynesians, the remedy for today’s economic problem is for the federal government, as the single biggest actor, to “prime the pump.” As government money starts to ripple through the economy, consumers and businesses will be encouraged and cautiously respond with limited increases of their own. Vroom! The economic engine steadily revs up in billions of responsive steps until happy days are here again. This pump-priming reaction is termed the “multiplier effect.”

I think John Maynard Keynes would be horrified at the slavish adherence to this simplistic strategy by so many policymakers and economic thinkers, as his theory was much more complex. This thinking might be correct under circumstances other than those in which we find ourselves. If the ratio of our national debt to gross domestic product was low - say 25 percent - and the federal government had run surpluses before the downturn, this college freshman-level Keynesian analysis would have great weight. Put another way, if Uncle Sam were a rock-solid financial entity with low debt to value and he had judiciously used debt for capital improvements that were accretive in value, as the biggest dog on the porch, a stimulus might work.

But with a national debt of more than $14 trillion and unfunded, future “off the books” debt of Social Security and Medicare combined at $104 trillion in present value, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve, Uncle Sam ain’t the man he used to be. This in turn makes American businesses that are sitting on a pile of cash focus on deleveraging. The American consumer is doing the same. In fact, from where I sit, it appears as though everyone except Uncle Sam is working like mad to strengthen his balance sheets. The legitimate fear across the country is that Washington’s refusal to join our common-sense parade will result in higher taxes, more regulations, more inflation and Japanese-style stagflation. In other words, Washington’s attempts at stimulus through spending are having the opposite effect. Businesses and consumers stay hunkered down.

I know this is counterintuitive to the college-freshman Keynesian analysis from above, but as a business owner, I can tell you an additional stimulus would create more fear and further dampen demand in the private sector. Keynes was correct in focusing on aggregate demand as critical, but the confidence context and potential behavior responses have to be considered, and that requires real-world, Main Street knowledge - not just textbook theory. In this environment, if the federal government announced a real road map to fiscal soundness, the impact would be truly stimulating. If American businesses and consumers saw that Washington was really cutting, not just reducing future increases, there would be tremendous relief and an increase in confidence across the country. Job creators would sing “hallelujah”; they would get off their wallets, start hiring, and then you’d see that Keynesian multiplier kick in.

Modern Keynesians suffer from the misguided notion that government is the great engine that will restore our economy to prosperity. In fact, the great engine is a diverse system of private citizens anxious to go to work to provide for their families and build their businesses.



Obama the flake

Can you imagine what the media would do if a Republican President made these errors? Yet Obama remains untouched. This is not a fair system. Dan Quayle misspelled potato and we never heard the end of it.

A man would could make this many errors is unqualified to be the most powerful man on earth.


Democrats Running on Empty

Over at Salon, Matt Stoller takes a good hard look at President Obama and concludes that he is ruining the Democratic Party.

Stoller's right, and the problem for Democrats is that the spectacular failure of the Obama presidency (at least thus far) presents them with two distinct threats from two distinct groups that are essential to their party's long-term survival: Young people, and African-Americans.

Young people came out and voted for "hope and change" in 2008, and are now reaping the whirlwind in the form of massive unemployment. As it turns out, the Obama presidency is disillusioning them both with Big Government and with the Democratic Party, likely -- at least in some cases -- for a lifetime.

As for African-Americans, that group has long been a linchpin of Democratic electoral hopes. So when people like Stoller delicately raise the question of whether it might be smarter to replace Obama on the ticket (or have a mainstream Democratic primary competitor), it's crazy to think that idea will go anywhere. That's because an intraparty coup against the President will insult and infuriate African Americans -- and be attributed to racial animus, even though it would have nothing to do with race (which might be an instructive lesson on how conservatives are treated on a regular basis) -- thereby threatening the very core of the Democratic coalition.

But it's hard to feel sorry for the Democrats, who are indeed trapped in a very sorry situation (at least for now). That's because they were all too willing to exploit the hopes of young people and bask in the glow of moral superiority when Barack Obama was riding high. Now, they're seeing the downside.



Are scientists becoming the new priests?

Debra J. Saunders

"I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy," GOP presidential hopeful and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman recently tweeted. You've got to hand it to Huntsman - he sure knows how to endear himself to folks who won't vote in the Republican primary.

Huntsman has said that he fears that the GOP will be perceived as the "antiscience party." That is, he gave a nod to Democrats' conceit that theirs is the party of science. Why? Because the Dems don't tolerate questions about evolution or global warming.

For the record, I believe in evolution. But I also have respect for those who see God's handiwork in the process - and see little reason to try to marginalize those with different personal beliefs.

I also share the skepticism voiced by a number of scientists - yes, scientists - who reject global-warming orthodoxy in defiance of a political/academic machine that enforces submission to one view. Those who do not agree with alarmist predictions on climate change do so at their careers' peril.

As then-Delaware state climatologist David Legates told me in 2007, he would tell students who were not global-warming true believers, "If you don't have tenure at a major research university, keep your mouth shut."

Huntsman's reverential tone, however, suggests that university science departments are havens of harmony, with scientists as priest-like figures to whose greater wisdom the public should defer.

With scientists on this pedestal, who needs religion?

It's worth noting that among the Obama ticket and GOP field, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Rep. Ron Paul probably have the strongest science backgrounds. Perry, a farmer, rancher and former Air Force pilot, has a degree in animal science from Texas A&M University. Paul was an Air Force flight surgeon and then a practicing physician until 1996.

Both Perry and Paul are global-warming skeptics. Paul rejects evolution outright, while Perry calls evolution "a theory."

Huntsman majored in international politics. Hence, his decision to "trust scientists on global warming."

Trust? Scientists know things that non-scientists don't know, but they are human, which makes them fallible. And as recent events have shown, not all scientists are above the political fray.

Consider Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize winning physicist. In 2009, Chu's staff approved $535 million loan guarantee to the Fremont solar company, Solyndra. Within two years, despite half a billion in taxpayer dollars, Solyndra announced last week it was filing for bankruptcy, shuttering its remaining plant, and laying off 1,100 workers. That was one miscalculation. Mistakes happen.

But the biggest blunder was not made by a scientist, but by a politician who so trusted the hollow promises of the climate-change lobby that he bet the U.S. economy on green jobs that never did proliferate. That was President Obama, and you see the fruit of his misguided faith.



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, September 06, 2011

Obama's New Policy to Crush Small Businesses

President Obama and his team of economic advisors are continuing their crusade against entrepreneurs and small companies that are the traditional engine to economic growth. The latest anti-business Obama policies appear in a just-released Executive Order 13495, a new rule to be enforced by the Department of Labor. This particular regulation is aimed directly at small business owners and attacks small businesses' most valuable asset--their employees.

Executive Order 13495, which will be both complicated and costly to enforce, represents just another example of Team Obama’s complete lack of understanding of the concerns of small business owners. After 15 years as a small business owner, and as the former Administrator of the U.S. General Services Administration, I've been to the circus a few times and seen all the strings connected the federal government and its indifference to the plight of small business owners. For small businesses, Executive Order 13495 is perhaps the most damaging action yet to come out of the Obama Administration.

First, in our country, a business has the freedom to hire the workers it thinks are best suited to ensure the company's success. The new Team Obama contracting rule tramples over that basic, capitalist principle by requiring any company which wins a federal contract to hire the employees that the government identifies.

This means that the government has new and expanded powers to direct the hiring, firing and promotion of employees at private companies.

Second, government contracting is challenging and intensely competitive. Profit margins are wire thin. Companies need to have the freedom to hire those whom they best believe can provide the best value to the government at the lowest cost. This new rule will make that kind of entrepreneurial freedom almost impossible as the federal government forces the company into employment and salary negotiations with persons of the government’s choice, with the government participating in the negotiation process.

Third, this new rule shows that Team Obama has no understanding of the challenges facing small businesses. Small businesses create 3 out of every 4 jobs in the United States. Small businesses are the source of much of the innovation in the United States. They are more agile because of their size and more willing to take risks.

A small business' employees are its life's blood. Successful small business leaders all understand the need to hire, retain and build a dedicated base of employees and provide them with whatever additional training is needed to give the business an edge and ability to compete. But now, in this new regulation, Obama seeks to undermine small business owners with a too-heavy, government hand that will give the government broad new powers to poach and strip a successful small business owner of its most valuable employees whenever it wishes. Raiding the employee rolls of small companies robs them of their most important asset.

Lastly, this rule shows a profound disrespect for the employee, and treats them as a kind of indentured servant or slave, chattel to be passed from one company to another without consideration of the employee's desires.

Obama's colossal ignorance of the challenges facing small businesses seems a clear sign that once again, the President just doesn’t get it. Time and again, new, burdensome regulations are heaped upon small businesses and the nation’s job creators. And yet, Obama seems simultaneously unaware of the damage he has done and continues to do, even as he issues platitudes and half-baked thoughts about the need to create jobs.

Unless I miss my guess, Obama’s big Jobs Speech is likely to be "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." The fact is, the president lacks even a basic understanding of how difficult it is to start a small business and see it grow. This disturbing anti-business trend is quickly becoming the primary Obama legacy.

Small business owners understand that creating jobs requires a system that encourages risk-taking because it makes it possible for risk takers to reap rewards. What government should do is provide regulatory relief for many of the arcane and obsolete requirements that hinder job creators.

Unfortunately, this latest executive order tells us that Obama is moving his Administration in the opposite direction and has decided to add to the regulatory thicket by making it hard for entrepreneurs and small business owners to succeed.

Creating jobs is fairly straightforward. Getting the White House to abandon union-generated ideas that stifle innovation, crush competitiveness, and condescend to small businesses—well, that's a lot harder.



Heaven Help the Aged

They say there are only two sure things in life: death and taxes. Thanks to unbelievable gains in medical technology in recent years however, most Americans are now able to delay the former inevitability for decades longer than their ancestors. Because of this, at a time when America’s real estate industry is struggling, there’s one market sector that’s proving to be recession proof: senior housing.

According to a recent article in the New York Times, “[d]emand for nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and retirement communities is expected to balloon in the next two decades as baby boomers retire and the incidence of progressive illnesses like Alzheimer’s disease increases. The number of Americans over the age of 65 is expected to double to 71 million by 2030, and 7.7 million of them will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, a 50 percent increase from today, according to the Alzheimer's Association.”

In the words of one industry insider, “it’s a great time to develop senior housing.”

Why the commodification of aging? Well, as the article points out, America is undergoing a remarkable demographic shift that is changing the face of our nation. Because people are generally having fewer children, there are fewer young people to take care of their aging parents. There are more elderly men and women requiring long-term care and fewer young people to provide it. Thus, the only resource available to meet this need – aside from our crumbling entitlement infrastructure, of course – is the profit-driven real-estate industry. This is how denigrated the aged have become in our culture’s eyes. Because we have failed to enact responsible entitlement reform, and because we have increasingly eschewed traditional family arrangements in favor of a uni-generational, “me, myself, and I” mentality, the fate of our parents and grandparents now rests in the hands of an industry that time and again has chosen the bottom line over the health and welfare of its elderly wards.

Indeed, many today speak of the elderly as if they are merely parasites draining our time and money. Older men and women are often treated with little respect. I see it every day in my law practice, where I frequently represent men and women who are victims of nursing home abuse and neglect. Weak and helpless elders are at the mercy of caregivers who are often underqualified and overworked. The result is an epidemic of preventable pressure sores, malnutrition, dehydration, and falls among the institutionalized elderly.

There is no doubt that the Roe v. Wade ethic has had a striking effect on how we view the aged. Other than the unborn, no single age group in the United States suffers from a diminished view of the value of human life more than the elderly. Rather than viewing our aging relatives as persons worthy of our utmost reverence and care, Roe has taught us to look at other people in terms perceived convenience. If someone is wanted – if we feel that they contribute to our overall quality of life – then their life has worth; if not, it is permissible to store them away somewhere for others to care for until they die. Out of sight, out of mind.

Now that we are facing a future where elderly men and women will be seen as economically inconvenient, where some will be unwanted and unloved, and where many will lack the mental or physical capacity to defend themselves, it is clear that the elderly are in danger of abuse, neglect, or perhaps even worse… unless of course they are lucky enough to afford a unit in one of the new, ultra-luxurious assisted living facilities currently under construction in some of the nation’s wealthier enclaves.

Will we allow ourselves to see our mothers and fathers, our grandparents as inconveniences to be managed, or as people who are to be nurtured, cared for, and cherished? Will we see the dignity in their lives even when they are no longer “useful” to us? Will we love them regardless of their abilities, recalling the intergenerational debts that bind us all?

In the increasingly utilitarian age in which we live – an age where moral absolutes are mocked and the notion of transcendent truths is ridiculed – the answer to these questions can be terrifying. Heaven help the aged when even money ceases to be an effective bargaining chip and society forgets them completely.



Obama's tricky language

He rivals Goebbels in his ability to call things what they are not

This week, as President Obama prepares for a big jobs speech (yet again!), even his partisans have begun to lose hope that he’s going to have any new or effective ideas about how to create jobs in America’s stalled economy. But one thing is certain: Whatever he says, it will be cloaked in euphemism.

There’s an old cliché insisting that fuzzy speaking means fuzzy thinking. Somehow, however, the Obama Administration has managed to turn the aphorism on its head. The President and his supporters resort to the use of euphemisms not because their thinking is fuzzy, but because they believe that ours is.

Take, as an example, the host of euphemisms that’s been trotted out as part of the Obama Administration’s approach to the war on terror. Since 2009, “rogue states” have become “outliers”; vague phrases like “overseas contingency operations,” “man-caused disasters,” “countering violent extremism” and – most recently – “kinetic military action” have entered the national lexicon.

It’s not an accident, and it’s not because the administration is unaware of the ugly facts about the war on terror; in fact, President Obama has retained most of the Bush-era policies. It’s because members of the administration hope that watered-down language will help Americans forget the existential threat our country still faces from Islamic jihadists – and thus more willingly accede to a less powerful, less exceptional America, content to “lead from behind.”

Similarly, when the President addresses the nation on Thursday night, be prepared to hear a lot about “investment” rather than “government spending.” The term “stimulus” – discredited by his earlier, failed almost-trillion-dollar boondoggle – will be replaced with the innocuous-sounding “targeted measures.” Realize that when he advocates higher taxes on “millionaires and billionaires,” he’s really talking about individuals earning more than $200,000 per year, or couples earning more than $250,000. And just know that when the President invokes “revenue enhancement” and “shared sacrifices” and “a balanced approach” and “making spending reductions in the tax code,” he’s trying to make his single-minded obsession with tax increases more palatable to a government-weary, overtaxed electorate. Put simply, however novel (or creative) the words, the song will be the same: More taxing, more government spending, and more efforts to “spread the wealth around.”

Certainly, per the old cliché, it would be dispiriting to believe that President Obama’s constant resort to euphemism is a result of fuzzy thinking. But it’s even more unpleasant to know that it’s part of an effort to obscure a far-left agenda to which Americans are deeply (and increasingly) hostile. And most of all, it’s profoundly insulting to realize that the President thinks that we are “intellectually challenged” (read: stupid) enough to fall for it.



Lies from the Congressional Black Caucus

Last week, Indiana Congressman Andre Carson [above] told a CBC gathering in Florida that members of Congress who are members of the tea party want to see blacks "hanging from trees." Because he is both a Democrat and a black congressman, the liberal news media, which means essentially all of our news media, has barely reported what is an almost uniquely vicious libel in American political history.

Given this uniqueness, it demands an explanation.

First, it is meant to create racial tension. Without racial tension -- specifically, black Americans resenting white Americans, especially conservatives -- the Democratic Party fears that it cannot survive as a national force. And it is right.
The day the majority of black Americans adopt the attitude that Washington Post correspondent Keith Richburg has written of in "Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa," the Democratic Party will be rendered irrelevant. As a black American, Richberg considers himself a member of the most fortunate group of blacks living anywhere in the world. No Democrat can win a presidential election without more than 90 percent of the black vote. And the only way to ensure that vote is to label whites in general and conservatives in particular as racists.

Second, the CBC is happy to race-bait for the Democrats. The CBC's power emanates from its party's power, so its leaders need to tell fellow blacks regularly how despicable the American majority is -- and therefore how only Democrats and the left can save them from everything ... even lynching.

Third, it is the CBC -- not the tea party -- that should be described as racist. While race plays no role in tea party membership, race is the only criterion for membership in the CBC. One must be black. Nothing else matters.

A black member of Congress whose district is largely non-black can be a member of the CBC, but a non-black Congressman whose district is largely black cannot be a member. Democratic Congressman Steven Cohen, whose Tennessee district is largely black, applied for membership in the CBC and was turned down for one reason: He is white.

What we have here is a racist group hurling false accusations of racism at a group that is on no way racist. But since it is an axiom of the left that blacks cannot be racist -- because whites are the authors of racism and because racism is only possible when practiced by the racial group in power -- few call the CBC what it is.

Fourth, when you are used to getting away with taking immoral positions, you feel free to continue doing so.
In 2009, seven members of the CBC visited Fidel Castro. Not only were they full of praise for the tyrant -- in that regard, they were hardly alone on the left -- but they also refused to meet with any democratic dissidents, including Cuba's leading black dissenter.

As a Washington Post editorial noted at the time, "In five days on the island, the (CBC) Congress members found no time for dialogue with Afro-Cuban dissident Jorge Luis Garcia Perez ... Mr. Garcia, better known as 'Antunez,' is a renowned advocate of human rights who has often been singled out for harsh treatment because of his color. "'The authorities in my country,' he has said, 'have never tolerated that a black person (could dare to) oppose the regime.'

"His wife, Iris, is a founder of the Rosa Parks Women's Civil Rights Movement, named after an American hero whom Afro-Cubans try to emulate."

As the snub of Cuba's leading black freedom fighters demonstrated, in a conflict between helping the left and helping blacks, the CBC chooses the left. On its website, the CBC calls itself "the conscience of the Congress since 1971." Its members probably believe it. But it has about as much truth as Congressman's Carson's accusation.



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, September 05, 2011

Another good article on Nazism/Fascism as Leftist

I reproduce below the first page of a recent 4 page article in "Forbes" that introduces the same ideas that appear in my monograph and Jonah Goldberg's book on the subject.

The main thing that the article below is weak on is pointing out that many things considered Rightist today (such as patriotism) were strongly Leftist in the prewar era -- and in fact continued to be so until some time after the war. JFK's famous quotation from Pericles ("Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country) was probably the last gasp of genuine patriotism on the American Left.

And Leftists of all sorts were great advocates of eugenics in Hitler's day. And even Karl Marx was a great antisemite. Hitler was in fact a fairly mainstream leftist by the standards of his time. He just applied German thoroughness to Leftist ideas

The author below does make one slight mention of it but one of the most damning things about the American Left of the prewar era is that they were in fact a major source of Hitler's ideas. I set out the details of that at some length here.

The article below is unreferenced but my monograph on the subject should supply all the references anyone needs --JR

By Bill Flax

“The line between fascism and Fabian socialism is very thin. Fabian socialism is the dream. Fascism is Fabian socialism plus the inevitable dictator.” John T. Flynn

Numerous commentators have raised alarming comparisons between America’s recent economic foibles and Argentina’s fall “from breadbasket to basket case.” The U.S. pursues a similar path with her economy increasingly ensnared under the growing nexus of government control. Resources are redistributed for vote-buying welfare schemes, patronage style earmarks, and graft by unelected bureaucrats, quid pro quo with unions, issue groups and legions of lobbyists.

In Argentina, everyone acknowledges that fascism, state capitalism, corporatism – whatever – reflects very leftwing ideology. Eva Peron remains a liberal icon. President Obama’s Fabian policies (Keynesian economics) promise similar ends. His proposed infrastructure bank is just the latest gyration of corporatism. Why then are fascists consistently portrayed as conservatives?

In the Thirties, intellectuals smitten by progressivism considered limited, constitutional governance anachronistic. The Great Depression had apparently proven capitalism defunct. The remaining choice had narrowed between communism and fascism. Hitler was about an inch to the right of Stalin. Western intellectuals infatuated with Marxism thus associated fascism with the Right.

Later, Marxists from the Frankfurt School popularized this prevailing sentiment. Theodor Adorno in The Authoritarian Personality devised the “F” scale to demean conservatives as latent fascists. The label “fascist” has subsequently meant anyone liberals seek to ostracize or discredit.

Fascism is an amorphous ideology mobilizing an entire nation (Mussolini, Franco and Peron) or race (Hitler) for a common purpose. Leaders of industry, science, education, the arts and politics combine to shepherd society in an all encompassing quest. Hitler’s premise was a pure Aryan Germany capable of dominating Europe.

While he feinted right, Hitler and Stalin were natural bedfellows. Hitler mimicked Lenin’s path to totalitarian tyranny, parlaying crises into power. Nazis despised Marxists not over ideology, but because they had betrayed Germany in World War I and Nazis found it unconscionable that German communists yielded fealty to Slavs in Moscow.

The National Socialist German Workers Party staged elaborate marches with uniformed workers calling one another “comrade” while toting tools the way soldiers shoulder rifles. The bright red Nazi flag symbolized socialism in a “classless, casteless” Germany (white represents Aryanism). Fascist central planning was not egalitarian, but it divvied up economic rewards very similarly to communism: party membership and partnering with the state.

Where communists generally focused on class, Nazis fixated on race. Communists view life through the prism of a perpetual workers’ revolution. National Socialists used race as a metaphor to justify their nation’s engagement in an existential struggle.



The Obama recession is by far the worst since WWII

It's jobs day, so of course today's CHART OF THE DAY is the latest update of this classic, which we've dubbed The Scariest Jobs Chart Ever.

What the chart (made by Calculated Risk) shows is the trajectory of job losses and gains during the great recession, compared to previous recessions.

So as you can see, the depth of the decline was much worse than any other recession, and what's more, the pace of the recovery is much weaker than in previous ones. Over a year it was looking as though the recovery might be kind of V-Shaped (a really big, wide V), but now it's clear that the comeback won't look anything like the decline. And now the comeback is basically flatlining. Yeah, scary.



Warmist attack on Gov. Perry

Refuted further below


Texas Gov. Rick Perry stirred up controversy on the campaign trail recently when he dismissed the problem of climate change and accused scientists of basically making up the problem.

As a born-and-bred Texan, it's especially disturbing to hear this now, when our state is getting absolutely hammered by heat and drought. I've got to wonder how any resident of Texas -- and particularly the governor who not so long ago was asking us to pray for rain -- can be so cavalier about climate change.

As a climate scientist at Texas A&M University, I can also tell you from the data that the current heat wave and drought in Texas is so bad that calling it "extreme weather" does not do it justice. July was the single hottest month in the observational record, and the 12 months that ended in July were drier than any corresponding period in the record.

I know that climate change does not cause any specific weather event. But I also know that humans have warmed the climate over the past century, and that this warming has almost certainly made the heat wave and drought more extreme than it would otherwise have been.

I am not alone in these views. There are dozens of atmospheric scientists at Texas institutions such as Rice, the University of Texas and Texas A&M, and none of them dispute the mainstream scientific view of climate change.

This is not surprising, since there are only a handful of atmospheric scientists in the entire world who dispute the essential facts -- and their ranks are not increasing, as Gov. Perry claimed.


Steven Goddard comments:

Andy Dessler claims that Aggie summers are getting hotter. His claim seems to be based on one month.

The closest USHCN station to College Station, Texas is at Brenham. Maximum temperatures there averaged 104 F in August – the hottest month on record. Over the last 60 years, the trend has been downwards – including 2004 which was the coolest August in the last 60 years.

July maximum temperatures are also on a downwards trend. The past decade (2001-2010) had the coolest July maximum temperatures of any decade in the last century.



Black unemployment the result of Leftist policies

Overall U.S. unemployment is 9.1 percent. For white adults, it's 8 percent, and for white teens, 23 percent. Black adult unemployment stands at 17 percent, and for black teens, it's 40 percent, more than 50 percent in some cities, for example, Washington.

Chapter 3 of "Race and Economics," my most recent book, starts out, "Some might find it puzzling that during times of gross racial discrimination, black unemployment was lower and blacks were more active in the labor force than they are today." Up until the late 1950s, the labor force participation rate of black teens and adults was equal to or greater than their white counterparts. In fact, in 1910, 71 percent of black males older than 9 were employed, compared with 51 percent for whites. As early as 1890, the duration of unemployment among blacks was shorter than it was among whites, whereas today unemployment is both higher and longer-lasting among blacks than among whites.

How might one explain yesteryear's lower black unemployment and greater labor force participation? The usual academic, civil rights or media racial discrimination explanation for black/white socio-economic differences just wouldn't hold up. I can't imagine even the most harebrained professor, civil rights leader or media "expert" arguing that there was less discrimination a century ago and that explains why there was greater black labor market participation. Racial discrimination or low skills can explain low wages but not unemployment.

During the 1930s, there were a number of federal government interventions that changed the black employment picture. The first was the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, which mandated minimum wages on federally financed or assisted construction projects. During the bill's legislative debate, the racial objectives were clear. Rep. John Cochran, D-Mo., said he had "received numerous complaints ... about Southern contractors employing low-paid colored mechanics getting work and bringing the employees from the South." Rep. Clayton Allgood, D-Ala., complained: "Reference has been made to a contractor from Alabama who went to New York with bootleg labor. ... That contractor has cheap colored labor that he transports, and he puts them in cabins, and it is labor of that sort that is in competition with white labor throughout the country." Rep. William Upshaw, D-Ga., spoke of the "superabundance or large aggregation of Negro labor." American Federation of Labor President William Green said, "Colored labor is being sought to demoralize wage rates." For decades after Davis-Bacon enactment, black workers on federally financed or assisted construction projects virtually disappeared. The Davis-Bacon Act is still on the books, and tragically today's black congressmen, doing the bidding of their labor union allies, vote against any effort to modify or eliminate its restrictions.

The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 and the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 broadened the number of workers covered by minimum wages, with negative consequences for black employment across a much wider range of industries. Good intentions motivate most Americans in their support for minimum wage laws, but for compassionate public policy, one should examine the laws' effect. That's seen by putting oneself in the place of an employer and asking, "If I must pay $7.25 an hour to no matter whom I hire, does it pay me to hire a worker who's so unfortunate as to have skills that enable him to produce, say, only $4 worth of value an hour?" Most employers would view hiring such a worker as a losing economic proposition; therefore, a minimum wage law discriminates against low-skilled workers by reducing employment opportunity.

Being unemployed has significant negative social consequences, one of them noted in the 1960s by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who raised the alarm about the link between joblessness and the decline of the black family, saying that men without work become less attractive as marriage partners. Between 1890 and 1940, a slightly higher percentage of black adults had married than white adults. Today black marriage rates have fallen precipitously, where 72 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers.




Zogby Poll: Rick Perry is it for GOPers: "In his first polling test against other announced Republican candidates for President, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is far ahead of the field with 41%, more than three times the total of second-place trailer Mitt Romney. Four of the announced GOP candidates are tied or ahead of President Barack Obama, with Romney the only one with a lead beyond the poll's margin of error. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who continues to say he will not run for president, continues to be the strongest possible Obama opponent in our IBOPE Zogby polling with a 49%-40% lead. Romney leads Obama, 45%-40%, while Perry has a two-point lead over the president". In addition to taking a big lead as GOP voters' first choice for the nomination, Perry is now seen among Republican voters as most likely to win the nomination"

Yes, it is a Ponzi scheme: "Texas governor Rick Perry is being criticized for calling Social Security a 'Ponzi scheme.' Even Mitt Romney is reportedly preparing to attack him for holding such a radical view. But if anything, Perry was being too kind"

Coming battle over extending jobless benefits: "There are two Americas. In one America, working stiffs wonder if it makes sense for the government to pay unemployment benefits for 99 weeks. In this America, folks have a lot of sympathy for those who are out of work through no fault of their own, but they also fear that when government writes unemployment checks for almost two years, that's an incentive to not get a job. In another America, there is strong support for President Obama's call for another extension of jobless benefits to 99 weeks. Like Obama, these Americans believe that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy. ... These two Americas are about to collide."

Eliminate the minimum wage prop to big business: "Walmart has pushed for a higher minimum wage. But Walmart already pays above minimum wage, so raising it would barely affect them. But it would impose costs on various Walmart competitors. So Walmart gets to advocate for what looks like social justice, while hobbling its competition."

Organs for sale: "Whilst the topic of financially incentivising organ donation is a divisive one, with many people concerned with the huge potential for exploitation, selling parts of oneself is not as extreme as you might think. It is, of course, a rarity to hear of someone selling a kidney to buy an iPad. Yet selling plasma, hair and even semen has been the practice of many cash-strapped students in the US and other countries."

Afghanistan: Taliban blow one-another up: "Eight Taliban militants have been killed after a bomb in their possession went off in Afghanistan's southern province of Kandahar, Press TV reported. The powerful explosion took place in Maiwand district of the militancy-hit province on Thursday afternoon as the militants were making a bomb. Another four people were also wounded in the blast."

There is a new Jumbo-sized 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)