Saturday, October 22, 2011

Occupy what?

Dr Oliver Marc Hartwich, a conservative German economist, sees some just cause for the OWS movement

The Occupy Wall Street movement has polarised public opinion: Either you regard the protestors as the new political avant-garde or as just plain silly. Either you believe they have a serious message or you think they are a bunch of nutters.

But what if the truth is a bit more nuanced than that? Perhaps the nutters have a point?

The silly stuff first: The protesters seem rather confused about what they are protesting against. They camp at Wall Street, which is fair enough if you want to object to financial capitalism. But they also protested in front of the Reserve Bank of Australia and the European Central Bank – not the usual suspects for financial excess.

It is also difficult to overlook some nasty anti-Semitic undertones in the rallies. One placard in Martin Place read ‘Occupy Sydney, not Palestine.’ From there it’s just one small step to claim that the financial crisis is the result of a Jewish conspiracy. In any case, what’s the link between Israel, Greece and Lehman Brothers?

Behind all this silliness, and frankly the utter nonsense, is a serious message: Corporatist capitalism has become a threat to prosperity, democracy and the free market itself.

The protesters no doubt exaggerate when they claim to represent 99% of the people worldwide. However, there really is public unease about the way the financial system works.

This week, I heard a representative of an anti-globalisation network complain that banks speculating in euro periphery debt should not be bailed out by the taxpayer when their investments go pear-shaped. It must have been the first time I was in complete agreement with the radical left.

There is something very wrong in a world in which heavily indebted governments have to take on yet more debt to save banks from the fallout of other governments collapsing under their debt burdens.

This is not a free market anymore. In a free market, banks have a right to speculate – and a right to go bankrupt.

What we are seeing instead is casino capitalism with a taxpayer provided safety net.

Acceptance of liberal economic policies suffers if good liberal principles can be suspended by powerful vested interests. The Occupy movement, silly as it looks, is a timely reminder of that.

SOURCE

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The world according to Jack Wheeler

I think he's mostly right

Russia. Putin is an ersatz macho-man, all hat and no karovi. Russia's navy is made of rust. Russia's ill-trained army of drunkards couldn't conquer Romania. Russian male life expectancy is lower than that of Bangladesh. Russia is a mafiacracy with a doomed economy dependent on oil & gas exports that fracking in Europe & the US will make uncompetitive. Do svidanya.

China. No wives, no water, no banks - and a hyper-dangerous military. Much of China is uninhabited - deserts, mountains, and wastelands. Habitable China is about the size of the US east of the Mississippi, with over a billion people squeezed into it. Northern China is turning into a waterless dust bowl. Scores of millions of Chinese men will never get married due to the Chicom's idiotic one-child policy and resultant mass female infanticide.

100 million bachelors are explosively dangerous. Chinese state banks are insolvent after going on a post-2008 loan binge with debt and credit in China now (according to the IMF) above 200% of GDP. A sharp economic contraction (increasingly likely) plus all those angry unmarried men equals war, the history-honored scapegoat diversion of tyrants.

The obvious Chicom choice for war would be Taiwan. But the Formosa Strait is 100 miles wide and China has no amphibious capacity. Taiwan is on the northern rim of the South China Sea, rapidly becoming one of the most jeopardous flash points in the world. Bordered by Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Vietnam, and China, over 50% by value of the world's shipping traverses it - and China claims all of it, the entire South China Sea, as its own territorial waters.

This cannot stand. China must be publicly informed by the next president that the South China Sea is international waters, period, there will be no discussion or negotiation. What is to be negotiated is the cooperative exploitation of what resources, such as oil, it may contain. No amount of Chicom bullying and saber-rattling will do any good. Every other country on the sea will join the US in this - and so will India and Japan.

Further, the Chicoms need to grasp that any aggression of theirs in the South China Sea will be naval only, and thus does nothing to occupy all their angry young bachelors. They need to go some place, a place with lots of water and lots of room for them, a place where the women prefer them to the local men who are drunks and beat up their wives, ideally a place once belonging to China but stolen by a foreign aggressor - so to get it back would give them a mission. Maybe even a wife.

There is such a place. It's called Siberia - specifically what China called its Maritime Provinces and Russia, after it seized them in 1860, calls the Russian Far East.

It's only a matter of time, at most a decade or two, before Beijing converts most all of eastern Siberia into Chinese Siberia. There is simply no way a dying Russia can hold on to it. Might as well divert the Chicoms toward it and away from Taiwan and the South China Sea.

North Korea. The Norks have no nukes. The half-kiloton yield in their tests means they failed to make weapons-grade plutonium. So they are no threat to us. They are a threat to South Korea with 11,000 artillery tubes aimed at the 17 million people of Greater Seoul. There is no need for American soldiers to be hostages to this. South Korea is a rich country with a powerful military capable of taking care of itself. We do not need to be there any longer.

India. The world's largest democracy is prickly, but the only country in Asia capable of standing up to China. The Chicoms are building naval bases in India's Indian Ocean neighbors such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Burma, which they call their "String of Pearls" around India's neck. India is countering with a growing alliance with China's ancient neighbor enemy, Vietnam.

The next president should build on President Bush's initiative for military and economic ties between the US and India. That could include a joint India-US naval base in Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam on the South China Sea. The Vietnamese would welcome us. Among nations, there are no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.

The Great Game of the 19th century was between the Russian and British Empires colliding in Asia. The 21st century players of this game are China and India. It's in our interests to be on India's side.

Pakistan/Afghanistan. Both are make-believe countries with no legitimate rationale for sovereignty. The key problem in both is Pakistan's "government within a government" spy agency, the ISI - Inter-Services Intelligence. It is radical hate-America jihadi Islamist. It created and is in the heroin business with the Taliban. The first necessary condition towards any solution in this region is its dismantlement.

The other key problem is our State Department's anaphylactic allergy to regime and border changes. The best solution for Afghanistan would be for it to cease to exist as presently constituted. Actually, the same for Pakistan.

The Baluchis of southern Afghanistan and southwest Pakistan want their own Baluchistan (they have a marvelous harbor and the biggest gold deposits in the world according to BHP Biliton). They'd be joined by the Baluchis of southeast Iran and most likely by the Sindhis of adjoining Sind in southern Pakistan with the big city of Karachi.

The Tajiks of northern Afghanistan do not want their lives run by Pushtuns. They'd much rather secede and join Tajikistan - which wants our help to stabilize and protect it from Russia. The Pushtuns straddle the Af-Pak border. They dream of being united in a separate Pushtunistan. Pakistan's ruling group, the Punjabis, would retain the Punjab.

But basically, as with the Koreas, this no longer should be our problem to solve. Af-Pak should be India's problem to solve - Pak nukes, after all, are aimed at India, not us. There is no real nation to build in Afghanistan, and our troops have no purpose dying for it. Terrorist threats are the business of the CIA and spec-ops teams, not the Marines or Army.

Again, we need to ally with India and assist them in what is their problem, not ours, to solve.

Iran. This week we learned that Iran's government planned an act of war against us in our own capital. It is hard to overestimate the number of problems in the world that would be solved with this government gone. And that's the solution: regime change. Apply a straightforward Reagan Doctrine strategy to overthrow Iran's mullah regime by sponsoring - with money and weapons - insurrections throughout the country.

Of Iran's 78 million, over 20 million are ethnic Azeri - almost three times the number of Azeris in Azerbaijan next door, whom they would love to join in a Greater Azerbaijan. There are at least eight million Kurds, who would fight tooth and nail against their Tehran oppressors if we gave them support. There are three million Ahwazi Arabs who populate Iran's oil patch, Kuhzestan, across the border from southern Iraq.

And of course there are the Persians themselves, some 33 million, whose mass street protests have been so brutally suppressed (and which the current president did not lift a finger or say a word to support).

A president determined to effect regime change in Iran would succeed quickly. The world's main state sponsor of Islamic terrorism would be no more. Iraq would be free to flourish, Syria would be quickly liberated, the threat to the Saudi and Gulf oil fields would be removed, and of course, Iran's nuclear program would be destroyed in the process (Israeli spec-ops would see to that).

It's a long list of positives and few if any negatives. All it needs is a president with the courage of Ronald Reagan.

Israel. The pre-1967 demarcations our current president demands Israel return to were not borders - they were cease-fire lines where Israel was able to stop the Arab invasions after declaring its independence in 1948. The Six-Day War recaptured Israel's legitimate territory, and that territory, including Golan and Judea-Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") should remain so.

The Palestinians need to be told to STFU, that they no longer will be coddled and treated like spoiled children. They will recognize the state of Israel as legitimate and Jewish, or they can move to the Sinai, where Egypt will give them a Palestinian State since the Egyptians love Palestinians so much (the dirty secret is that the rest of the Arab world despises Palestinians and calls them rafida, Arabic for the N-word). Arabs and Euroweenies who object can shove their Nazi Anti-Semitism up their noses.

That's the way a pro-American pro-Israel president would deal with Israel and the Arabs. Then there's Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (air-doh-wan) is an Islamist megalomaniac fantasizing about recreating the Ottoman Caliphate. He is constantly threatening Israel, pretending his high school navy is a match for Israel's NFL navy. Yet he has gutted the Turkish officer corps and filled it with incompetent stooges.

Erdogan needs a US president to explain to him that any duke-out between Turkey and Israel will result in his total humiliation, causing his overthrow and Turkey's expulsion from NATO.

Europe. It's Old Europe, now known as the Eurozone, serving as an object lesson of the scam of the welfare state versus New Europe, the liberated former colonies of the Soviet Union who learned the hard way the evils of socialism and the virtues of capitalism.

A new president would focus attention on the Baltics, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Croatia, and Slovenia. And he would politely educate the lands of Old Europe on welfare state socialism as a religion of envy. Ireland is already figuring this out and is recovering thereby.

Mexico. As Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty significantly helped bring freedom to Soviet Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, the next president could institute a Radio Free Mexico (including satellite television and web sites) teaching free market and small business economics to Mexicans.

Mexico is the land of crony corrupt corporate fascist capitalism. As a result, most Mexicans live in medieval poverty while the richest man in the world is a Mexican - Carlos Slim - whose wealth was gained with state-protected monopolies. A true free market economy would enable Mexicans to become prosperous in their own country.

More HERE

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Ron Paul shows that spending cuts ARE possible

Paul's plan not only extends the tax cuts enacted under the Bush administration; it reduces the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent while abolishing taxes on inheritances, capital gains, and personal savings. It nevertheless manages to eliminate the budget deficit within three years, largely by reducing military spending, capping most programs at 2006 spending levels, converting Medicaid and other welfare programs into block grants, and eliminating five cabinet-level departments: Commerce, Education, Energy, Housing and Urban Development, and Interior.

As USA Today noted, Paul is "a longtime critic of federal spending not authorized by the Constitution"—a description that applies to sadly few members of Congress, all of whom take an oath to respect the limits imposed on the federal government by the document that created it. Yet Paul's plan would not return the country to the 1990s, let alone the 19th century. It calls for total outlays of $2.9 trillion in 2015, which is about as much as the federal government spent as recently as 2003, adjusted for inflation.

You may not agree with Paul's priorities, but at least he has laid them out for everyone to see. Meanwhile, the vast majority of his fellow legislators continue to pretend there is no need to prioritize at all.

Consider military spending. Counting savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Paul calls for $832 billion in cuts over four years, which would leave the Pentagon's base budget in 2016 about 2 percent lower than it is now.

Indiscriminate cuts may be undesirable, but so is indiscriminate spending, which is what we have now, with the United States accounting for more than two-fifths of the world's military outlays. Budget choices should drive strategic choices, since we can no longer afford to squander defense dollars on projects that have little or nothing to do with defense, whether it's launching optional wars across the globe or protecting rich allies that are perfectly capable of protecting themselves.

Paul's proposed abolition of various departments, agencies, and programs likewise should stimulate debate about the federal government's priorities. Aside from carrying out the decennial "enumeration" mandated by Article I, Section 2, does the Commerce Department do anything that is constitutionally authorized, let alone essential? What about HUD? Why should education be a federal responsibility at all, let alone one that requires an entire department? Is transportation security properly handled by the federal government or, as Paul argues, by the property owners whose interests are at stake?

These are the sort of questions presidential candidates would try to answer if they were truly determined to get our fiscal house in order.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Friday, October 21, 2011

A long, steep drop for Americans' standard of living

Not since at least 1960 has the US standard of living fallen so fast for so long. The average American has $1,315 less in annual disposable income now than at the onset of the Great Recession.

Think life is not as good as it used to be, at least in terms of your wallet? You'd be right about that. The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the past three years than at any time since the US government began recording it five decades ago.

Bottom line: The average individual now has $1,315 less in disposable income than he or she did three years ago at the onset of the Great Recession – even though the recession ended, technically speaking, in mid-2009. That means less money to spend at the spa or the movies, less for vacations, new carpeting for the house, or dinner at a restaurant.

In short, it means a less vibrant economy, with more Americans spending primarily on necessities. The diminished standard of living, moreover, is squeezing the middle class, whose restlessness and discontent are evident in grass-roots movements such as the tea party and "Occupy Wall Street" and who may take out their frustrations on incumbent politicians in next year's election.

What has led to the most dramatic drop in the US standard of living since at least 1960? One factor is stagnant incomes: Real median income is down 9.8 percent since the start of the recession through this June, according to Sentier Research in Annapolis, Md., citing census bureau data. Another is falling net worth – think about the value of your home and, if you have one, your retirement portfolio. A third is rising consumer prices, with inflation eroding people's buying power by 3.25 percent since mid-2008.

"In a dynamic economy, one would expect Americans' disposable income to be growing, but it has flattened out at a low level," says economist Bob Brusca of Fact & Opinion Economics in New York.

To be sure, the recession has hit unevenly, with lower-skilled and less-educated Americans feeling the pinch the most, says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com based in West Chester, Pa. Many found their jobs gone for good as companies moved production offshore or bought equipment that replaced manpower.

"The pace of change has been incredibly rapid and incredibly tough on the less educated," says Mr. Zandi, who calls this period the most difficult for American households since the 1930s. "If you don't have the education and you don't have the right skills, then you are getting creamed."

Per capita disposal personal income – a key indicator of the standard of living – peaked in the spring of 2008, at $33,794 (measured as after-tax income). As of the second quarter of 2011, it was $32,479 – almost a 4 percent drop. If per capita disposable income had continued to grow at its normal pace, it would have been more than $34,000 a year by now.

The so-called misery index, another measure of economic well-being of American households, echoes the finding on the slipping standard of living. The index, a combination of the unemployment rate and inflation, is now at its highest point since 1983, when the US economy was recovering from a short recession and from the energy price spikes after the Iranian revolution.

SOURCE

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Obamacare Will Price Less Skilled Workers Out of Full-Time Jobs

President Obama’s health care law requires employers to offer health benefits to full-time employees. This employer mandate will price many unskilled workers out of full-time employment.

After paying the new health premiums, the minimum wage, payroll taxes, and unemployment insurance taxes, hiring a full-time worker will cost employers at least $10.03 per hour. Full-time workers with family health plans will cost $13.75 per hour. Employers who hire workers with productivity below these rates will lose money. Businesses employing less skilled workers will probably respond by dumping their employees onto the federally subsidized health care exchanges and replacing full-time positions with part-time jobs.

Employers cannot reduce cash pay below the minimum wage. However, employers will not pay workers more than their productivity. No businesses will pay $14 per hour to employ a worker whose labor raises earnings by just $9 per hour. Businesses that pay workers more than their productivity quickly go out of business.

Employers hiring unskilled workers will respond to these higher costs in two ways. Many employers will forgo providing health benefits and dump workers onto the government health care exchanges. Doing so will incur a $2,000 penalty per full-time worker—far less than the cost of health premiums but still a $1 per hour increase in full-time employment costs.

The employer mandate will also encourage employers to replace full-time jobs with part-time positions. Obamacare does not penalize employers for not providing health benefits to part-time employees, so part-time positions will cost much less to fill than full-time positions.

Federal law gives employers a further incentive to hire unskilled workers only part-time. The law requires employers to offer the same health benefits to all full-time employees. If employers dump their less productive full-time employees into the government exchanges, they must dump the rest of their employees as well. However, hiring less skilled workers for part-time jobs does not restrict employers’ ability to offer health benefits to other workers. Many unskilled and inexperienced workers—those who produce less than $10.03 per hour—will find that employers will only offer them part-time jobs.

Obamacare hurts less skilled workers. It raises the minimum productivity required for them to hold a full-time job, particularly workers with families. Workers who cannot produce at least $20,000 per year (single plan) or $27,500 per year (family plan) of value to employers will have serious difficulty finding full-time jobs. Many of these workers will have to either live off reduced income from part-time hours or juggle the schedules of multiple part-time jobs.

Workers with productivity near this minimum will also face challenges. The law forces them to consume a substantial portion of their income as health benefits whether they want to or not. Take a full-time worker in Delaware with a family health plan earning the federal minimum wage. The employee and employer share of health care premiums for that plan will cost an average of $6.41 per hour. After paying the employee share of premiums, that worker will earn $6.56 per hour in cash wages. The law requires unskilled employees who do not get dumped into the exchanges to receive almost half of their compensation as health benefits. Workers who would like higher wages and less expensive health coverage do not get a choice.

More HERE

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Murders, Rapes, Falling Bridges and Phantom Jobs

David Limbaugh

What are we to think about a president and vice president who blow nearly a trillion dollars in borrowed money, accept no responsibility for it and then traverse the nation trying to convince Americans that if we don't spend half that much again, people will die from dilapidated bridges and women will be raped because we can't afford cops?

What business do these two have lecturing anyone about anything, much less the conditions that might ensue if we were not to spend more printed money to pay for things they failed to finance the first time because they misappropriated the funds?

Last month, Obama, stumping for his misnamed "American Jobs Act," told his AstroTurf audience in Raleigh-Durham that "in North Carolina alone, there are 153 structurally deficient bridges that need to be repaired. Four of them are near here, on or around the Beltline. Why would we wait to act until another bridge falls?"

After attempting to scare those in the crowd into believing they were one pylon away from being crushed by a fallen bridge, Department of Transportation engineers and administrators had to mollify residents about the safety of the area's bridges.

Wally Bowman, DOT's division chief for Wake County and six neighboring counties, said, "The key thing is: We don't have any bridges that are about to fall. We don't have any bridge out there that is structurally inadequate, where it cannot handle the traffic. We make sure those bridges stay in a good state of repair."

Obama obviously hadn't bothered to do his due diligence; he just made a false assertion to gin up support for legislation that a number of high-profile congressmen in his own party even reject.

Where's the outrage? Where are the media? Why don't they ask Obama why he's proposing to spend $447 billion on projects that aren't even necessary and trying to scare the public into supporting them?

Former White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famously said that "you never want a serious crisis to go to waste," but Obama has taken the maxim to a new level. The enhanced version is: "When all else fails to convince the electorate, fabricate a phony crisis, and fuel it with fear based on lies. Then re-present your proposal as the only antidote."

Obama has used this tactic with almost every major agenda item -- the stimulus package, Obamacare, the financial regulation bill, cap and trade, the federal takeovers of General Motors and Chrysler, all the debt ceiling skirmishes and his demagogic opposition to entitlement reform. Obama deliberately created a panic atmosphere based on an illusion of urgency so intense that even lawmakers wouldn't have time to read the bill, much less debate it, let alone post the bill online sufficiently in advance of congressional floor debate to allow public comment as he promised in his campaign

. Though the underlying problems he portrayed as crises were rarely urgent, his legislative "solutions" converted serious national financial problems into ones that present an existential threat to the nation.

Obama is not alone. His chief deputy, Vice President Joe Biden, has ratcheted up the administration's jobs bill rhetoric another decibel. In Flint, Mich., Biden intimated that the city will have more rapes and murders unless the jobs bill is passed.

"In 2008, when Flint had 265 sworn officers on their police force, there were 35 murders and 91 rapes in this city," Biden said. "In 2010, when Flint had only 144 police officers, the murder rate climbed to 65, and rapes -- just to pick two categories -- climbed to 229. In 2011, you now only have 125 shields. God only knows what the numbers will be this year for Flint if we don't rectify it."

Do these people have no shame?

Didn't they assure us that Biden would be our national stimulus cop, someone who would make sure that not a dollar of stimulus money would be wasted? And now they have the audacity to invoke the specter of rape and murder unless more federal money is thrown down ratholes, sent to nonexistent locations with phantom ZIP codes, allocated to ostensibly shovel-ready jobs that do not exist, used as slush money for their political benefactors and union cronies, and spent on research to inquire into the mating habits and sexual preferences of the Borneo walking stick?

It's time these two answered some questions themselves about the colossal waste of federal money they've directed toward the stimulus package, Obamacare, Solyndra, other green projects and scores of other boondoggles.

Until they can give us an honest accounting for their recklessness, they have no standing to be demanding more.

SOURCE

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Is America Disintegrating?

Pat Buchanan

In Federalist 2, John Jay looks out at a nation of a common blood, faith, language, history, customs and culture.

"Providence," he writes, "has been pleased to give this one connected country to one united people -- a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the same language, professing the same religion ... very similar in their manners and customs ..."

Are we still that "one united people" today? Or has America become what Klemens von Metternich called Italy: "a mere geographical expression"?

In "Suicide of a Superpower," out this week, I argue that the America we grew up in is disintegrating, breaking apart along the fault lines of politics, race, ethnicity, culture and faith; that the centrifugal forces in society have now become the dominant forces.

Our politics are as poisonous as they have been in our lifetimes.

Sarah Palin was maligned as morally complicit in the murder attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Terms like "terrorists" and "hostage-takers" are routinely used on Tea Party members who one congressman said want to see blacks "hanging on a tree."

Half a century after the civil rights revolution triumphed, the terms "racist" and "racism" are in daily use. We remain, said Eric Holder in calling us a "nation of cowards," as socially segregated as ever. "Outside the workplace, the situation is even more bleak in that there is almost no significant interaction between us. On Saturdays and Sundays, America ... does not, in some ways, differ significantly from the country that existed some 50 years ago."

He is not altogether wrong in that. In California's prisons and among her proliferating ethnic gangs, a black-brown civil war has broken out.

Yet, by 2042, there will be 66 million black folks and 135 million Hispanics here, the latter concentrated in the states bordering Mexico. What holds us together, then?

We are not now and will not then be "descended from common ancestors." We will consist of all the races, cultures, tribes and creeds of Earth -- a multiracial, multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual stew of a nation that has never before existed, or survived. The parallels that come to mind are the Habsburg Empire that flew apart after World War I, and the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia that disintegrated after the Cold War.

No more will we all speak the same language. We will be bilingual and bi-national. Spanish radio and TV stations are already the fastest growing. In Los Angeles, half the people speak a language other than English in their own homes.

As for "professing the same religion," where 85 percent of Americans were Christians in 1990, that is down to 75 percent and plummeting. The old Christian churches -- Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran and especially Episcopalian -- are splitting, shrinking and dying.

Where three in four Catholics attended Sunday Mass in 1960, it is now one in four. One in three cradle Catholics has lost the faith. The numbers of priests and nuns are plummeting; religious orders are dying; Catholics schools are closing.

The moral consensus and moral code Christianity gave to us has collapsed. Since the great cultural-social revolution of the 1960s, there has occurred what Nietzsche called the "transvaluation of all values." What was morally repellent -- promiscuity, homosexuality, abortion -- is now seen by perhaps half the nation as natural, normal, healthy and progressive.

Socially, too, America is breaking down. Where out-of-wedlock births in the 1950s were rare, today, 41 percent of all American children are born out of wedlock. Among Hispanics, it is 51 percent; among blacks, 71 percent. And the correlation between the illegitimacy rate, the drug rate, the dropout rate, the crime rate and the incarceration rate is absolute.

This helps to explain the four decades of plunging test scores of American children and the quadrupling of the prison population.

And while all this is happening, the state is failing. We cannot control our borders, win our wars or balance our budgets. In three consecutive national elections -- 2006, 2008 and 2010 -- the incumbents have been repudiated. Confidence in politics, politicians and the future of the country has never been so low in our lifetimes.

There was a time not so long ago when the nation was united on a common faith, morality, history, heroes, holidays, holy days, language and literature. Now we fight over them all.

Neocons says not to worry, the Constitution holds us together. Does it? Do we all agree on what the First Amendment says about the freedom to pray in school and celebrate Christmas and Easter? How can we be the "one nation, under God" of the Pledge of Allegiance, or the people "endowed by their Creator" with inalienable rights, if we cannot even identify or discuss or mention that God and that Creator in the schools of America?

Do we agree on what the Ninth Amendment says about right to life? What about what the 14th Amendment says about affirmative action? What the Second Amendment says about the right to carry a concealed gun?

The new secession that is coming, Rick Perry notwithstanding, is not like the secession of 1861. It is a secession of the heart from one another.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Washington, D.C. Becomes America’s Richest City

Obama’s $4 trillion army settles into its barracks

Things are tough all over… except for Washington, D.C. By vacuuming four trillion dollars out of the private economy, President Obama has brought a deficit-fueled boom to the seat of the national bureaucracy he loves. Bloomberg News does the honors as Silicon Valley is dethroned, and America’s new richest city is crowned:

Federal employees whose compensation averages more than $126,000 and the nation’s greatest concentration of lawyers helped Washington edge out San Jose as the wealthiest U.S. metropolitan area, government data show.

The U.S. capital has swapped top spots with Silicon Valley, according to recent Census Bureau figures, with the typical household in the Washington metro area earning $84,523 last year. The national median income for 2010 was $50,046.

This has not escaped the notice of those who concern themselves with income disparity, and they’re feeling a bit queasy about it:

The figures demonstrate how the nation’s political and financial classes are prospering as the economy struggles with unemployment above 9 percent and thousands of Americans protest in the streets against income disparity, said Kevin Zeese, director of Prosperity Agenda, a Baltimore-based advocacy group trying to narrow the divide between rich and poor.

“There’s a gap that’s isolating Washington from the reality of the rest of the country,” Zeese said. “They just get more and more out of touch.”

I’m all in favor of narrowing the divide between rich and poor myself, provided it’s done by making the poor richer. Flooding D.C. with six-figure bureaucrats until it turns into El Dorado is the exact opposite of that. The very policies that helped Obama surround himself with a suitably magnificent aristocracy are killing the poor. As money is siphoned out of the private sector, and the national debt accumulates with staggering interest payments, opportunity withers. Not coincidentally, Obama has brought the number of people living in poverty to record highs.

There is no more concise, and devastating, symbol of Obama’s failure than watching Washington, D.C. become the richest city in the nation, while Gross Domestic Product flounders and 9% unemployment drags on for years. Worst of all, whoever gets the job of cleaning up this mess will be accused of wanting to make unemployment worse, when they start sending those surplus $126,000 bureaucrats home.

SOURCE

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Big-government economic policies are impoverishing America



A majority of Americans disapprove of what President Obama has done in office. He promised hope and change but delivered disappointment and stagnation. The unemployment rate is stuck at 9.1 percent. The poverty rate is at 15.1 percent, tied for the worst performance since the Census started tracking numbers in 1959. White House policies of class warfare and redistribution are impoverishing America, and the public is starting to feel worked over.

While economic scorekeepers say the recession officially ended in June 2009, few Americans would say they’ve felt much relief. A new study by Gordon Green and John Coder of Sentier Research explains this phenomenon. They found inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent from $53,518 in June 2009 to $49,909 in June 2011. That’s on top of the 3.2 percent drop that took place during the official recession period from December 2007 and June 2009. Altogether, the average household lost $5,400 in spending ability - a near 10 percent drop in the standard of living.

One reason for this is that people who have found jobs have had to settle for a pay cut. Princeton University’s Henry Faber found that, on average, when an employee lost a job and then got rehired during the recession, the new position paid 17.5 percent less than the old one. It’s no wonder that confidence levels are low, and Americans, even those with jobs, are being careful with spending.

Not surprisingly, the biggest decline was found in households where the head is unemployed. Their income fell more than 18 percent. During the recession, the average duration of unemployment increased from 16.6 weeks in December 2007 to a shade over 24 weeks by June 2009. That figure is now 40.5 weeks, the longest it has been in more than six decades. The longer a person is unemployed, the harder it is for him to find a job, as job skills erode and potential employers question whether it might be more prudent to hire someone else without big gaps in their work history.

Mr. Obama’s solution involves having the federal government declare the long-term unemployed a legally protected class. His American Jobs Act would subject businesses to frivolous lawsuits if they decide against hiring someone who has been jobless for an extended time. Doing so would serve as one more disincentive for companies to hire or hold interviews for open positions, making it even harder for the jobless to find work.

By passing the long-pending free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama this week, Congress took the first small steps toward improving the U.S. economic predicament. American agricultural exports are likely to be the largest beneficiaries, but various service sectors would also see a boost. The South Korea deal alone is expected to generate an increase in U.S. gross domestic product of $10-12 billion. That means more job creation.

Ultimately, Americans will not find their pocketbooks thickening so long as Uncle Sam strangles entrepreneurs with regulatory red tape. Companies need to have certainty that they will be able to keep the proceeds of their investments in the future before they will start hiring again and pay their employees more.

SOURCE

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So much for Obama's 'new era of open government'

A secret meeting on transparency in government was held by the Office of Information Policy in the Justice Department headed by the President’s attorney general, Eric Holder.

Justice Department documents made public Tuesday by Judicial Watch exposed an "accomplishment" of President Obama that his many admirers and enablers in the liberal mainstream media likely don't want to talk about: a secret meeting on transparency in government. It happened on Dec. 7, 2009, and was convened by the Office of Information Policy in the Justice Department headed by Obama's attorney general, Eric Holder. The meeting's purpose was to train Freedom of Information Act officers from federal agencies how to respond to FOIA requests, including tips on resolving disputes over what government documents can be made public.

Judicial Watch obtained a series of pre-conference emails in which Justice Department officials sought approval from White House media officials for closing the meeting to reporters. That the December meeting was closed was no isolated incident. In one of the emails, Melanie Pustay, OIP's director, said she has "always held parallel meetings, one for agency 'ees [i.e. government employees] and then one that is open." We can only wonder what Pustay tells government FOIA officers that she doesn't want journalists to hear.

It was Obama who said on his first day in the Oval Office that he wanted his subordinates in the executive branch to respond to FOIA requests "with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails." Apparently that memo didn't make it to the Justice Department's OIP, which oversees executive branch compliance with the FOIA. As Judicial Watch's Tom Fitton said, "only in Washington would political appointees think it appropriate to keep secret a government workshop on transparency."

Unfortunately, keeping the meeting secret isn't the only area in which the Obama administration's record on this issue has proven to be woefully short of what the president promised. In both the Fast and Furious and Solyndra scandals, for example, Obama appointees have held back thousands of documents legitimately sought by congressional investigators while defending their refusal with arguments coined by President Nixon.

Similarly, Obama's secretary of labor, Hilda Solis, has gutted transparency regulations that required labor unions to disclose information about the organizations' financial health, including union officers' total compensation packages. Also killed was a requirement to report on union trusts, which often function like offshore accounts for corporations in providing a means of hiding assets. And gone is a requirement that would have made unions report on "no-show" jobs -- positions for which the union is paid but nobody actually does the work. The biggest losers when unions are able to conceal such information are union members.

That is likely why, as The Washington Examiner reported Tuesday, a recent survey of union households for Americans for Limited Government found that "94 percent of the respondents agreed that 'union officials and executives should have to disclose their salaries and benefits connected to their official union office as a way of making them accountable to their members.' " When it comes to transparency, Obama sides with bureaucrats against taxpayers and union bosses against union members.

SOURCE

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How California Drives Away Jobs and Business

The Golden State continues to incubate cutting-edge companies in Silicon Valley, but then the successful firms expand elsewhere to avoid the state's tax and other burdens.

California has long been among America's most extensive taxers and regulators of business. But it had assets that seemed to offset its economic disincentives: a sunny climate, a world-class public university system that produced a talented local work force, sturdy infrastructure that often made doing business easier, and a record of spawning innovative companies.

No more. In surveys, executives regularly call California one of the country's most toxic business environments, while the state has become an easy target for economic development officials from other states looking to lure firms away.

In a 2004 survey of California executives by the consulting firm Bain & Company, half said they planned to halt job growth within the state. By 2011, according to a poll by a California coalition of businesses and industries, 84% of executives and owners said that if they weren't already in the state, they wouldn't consider starting up there, while 64% said the main reason they stayed was the difficulty of relocating their particular kind of business. For several years in a row, California has ranked dead last in Chief Executive magazine's poll about states' business environments.

Labor groups, environmentalists and some politicians jeer at these surveys. But the hard numbers tell a disturbing story.

From 1994 through 2008, the latest year for which data are available in the National Establishment Time Series database (a joint project of Walls & Associates and Dun and Bradstreet), California ranked 47th among the states in net jobs created through business relocation, losing 124,000 more jobs to other places than it gained from other places. Meanwhile, it generated just 285,000 more jobs from new businesses than it lost to business failures, placing 29th in the country—while first-place Florida gained 2.4 million net jobs. Demographer Wendell Cox has noted that close to none of those 285,000 net jobs were created between 2000 and 2008, meaning that start-ups haven't contributed to California employment for more than a decade.

The state continues to incubate cutting-edge companies in places like Silicon Valley, where investment remains vigorous, thanks in part to the area's muscular venture-capital industry. Yet its successful firms increasingly expand elsewhere.

In 2007, Google built a new generation of server farms in Oregon; the following year, Intel opened a $3 billion production facility near Phoenix. Earlier this year, eBay, based in San Jose, Calif., said it would add some 1,000 back-office jobs in Austin, Texas, over the next decade. Hank Nothhaft, former CEO of the San Jose-based micro-electronics firm Tessera, has estimated that Silicon Valley lost one-quarter of its computer, microchip and communications-equipment manufacturing jobs from 2001 to 2008.

A suffocating regulatory climate has a lot to do with the state's bad business numbers. Writing in the California Political Review this summer, Andrew Puzder, chief executive of California-based CKE Restaurants—which operates 3,000 eateries nationwide—called his company's home state "the most business-unfriendly state we operate in."

CKE, which runs Hardee's and Carl's Jr., has stopped opening restaurants in California, where the regulatory process can take up to two years. But it plans to open 300 in Texas, where the start-up time can be six weeks and opening costs $200,000 less than in California.

A 2009 study by two California State University finance professors estimated that regulation cost the state's businesses $493 billion annually, or nearly $135,000 per company. Sanjay Varshney and Dennis Tootelian estimated that the burden pushed California's overall employment down by 3.8 million jobs.

Ironically, green-promoting California is now even losing green manufacturing jobs.

Earlier this year Bing Energy, a fuel-cell maker, announced that it would relocate from Chico in San Bernardino County to Tallahassee, Fla., where it expected to hire nearly 250 workers. Solar Millennium, an energy company, canceled plans to build a facility in Ridgecrest, Calif.—an undertaking that would have created 700 temporary jobs and 75 permanent ones—after lengthy delays caused by state environmental reviews, including one on the project's impact on the Mojave ground squirrel. AQT Solar, an energy-cell maker based in Sunnyvale, will employ 1,000 people at a new 184,000-square-foot manufacturing plant—in South Carolina. Then there's Biocentric Energy Holdings, a Santa Ana energy company that moved to Salt Lake City; and Calisolar, a Santa Clara–based green-energy company building a factory in Ontario, Canada, that will employ 350 workers.

Again, no wonder: California taxes are high and hit employers and employees hard. While the highest individual income-tax bracket, 10.3%, applies to million-dollar earners, the second-highest, 9.3%, kicks in at $47,000. Even in high-tax New Jersey, the top bracket of 8.97% doesn't kick in until filers hit $500,000 in income. California also has a high corporate tax rate of 8.84%.

The state's legal environment is a mess, too. A so-called consumer rights law allows trial lawyers to sue firms for minor violations of California's complex labor and environmental regulations. After lawyers kept sending out threatening letters in mass mailings to thousands of small businesses, demanding payments in return for not suing over purported minor paperwork violations, outraged voters passed the Prop. 64 reform initiative in 2004. Yet that only forced suing attorneys to first show that they were representing plaintiffs who claimed to have been harmed.

California also allows plaintiffs to sue for damages over even minor violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act's architectural guidelines for accommodating the disabled. One plaintiff alone has sued 1,000 businesses, mostly restaurants, and won an average settlement of $4,000. Using an obscure provision of California labor law that requires stores to have enough seats for all employees, trial attorneys have filed about 100 lawsuits, claiming damages of up to $100 per employee, against chain retailers.

Today, California seems to be following the path first trod by New York state, which dominated the nation's economy through the early part of the 20th century, only to see massive outmigration of jobs and people, and subpar employment growth as its taxes and regulations rose.

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pitting us against each other

By WALTER E. WILLIAMS

President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party have led increasingly successful efforts to pit Americans against one another through the politics of hate and envy. Attacking CEO salaries, the president -- last year during his Midwest tour -- said, "I do think at a certain point you've made enough money."

Let's look at CEO salaries, but before doing so, let's look at other salary disparities between those at the bottom and those at the top. According to Forbes' Celebrity 100 list for 2010, Oprah Winfrey earned $290 million. Even if her makeup person or cameraman earned $100,000, she earned thousands of times more than that. Is that fair?

Among other celebrities earning hundreds or thousands of times more than the people who work with them are Tyler Perry ($130 million), Jerry Bruckheimer ($113 million), Lady Gaga ($90 million) and Howard Stern ($76 million). According to Forbes, the top 10 celebrities, excluding athletes, earned an average salary of a little more than $100 million in 2010.

According to The Wall Street Journal Survey of CEO Compensation (November 2010), Gregory Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, earned $87 million, Oracle's Lawrence Ellison ($68 million) and rounding out the top 10 CEOs was McKesson's John Hammergren, earning $24 million. It turns out that the top 10 CEOs have an average salary of $43 million, which pales in comparison with America's top 10 celebrities, who earn an average salary of $100 million.

When you recognize that celebrities earn salaries that are some multiples of CEO salaries, you have to ask: Why is it that rich CEOs are demonized and not celebrities? A clue might be found if you asked: Who's doing the demonizing? It turns out that the demonizing is led by politicians and leftists with the help of the news media, and like sheep, the public often goes along.

Why demonize CEOs? My colleague Dr. Thomas Sowell explained it in his brand-new book, "The Thomas Sowell Reader." One of his readings, titled "Ivan and Boris -- and Us," starts off with a fable of two poor Russian peasants. Ivan finds a magic lamp and rubs it, and the jinni grants him one wish. As it turns out, Boris has a goat, but Ivan doesn't. Ivan's wish is for Boris' goat to die. That vision reflects the feelings of too many Americans. If all CEOs worked for nothing, it would mean absolutely little or nothing to the average American's bottom line.

For politicians, it's another story: Demonize people whose power you want to usurp. That's the typical way totalitarians gain power. They give the masses someone to hate. In 18th-century France, it was Maximilien Robespierre's promoting hatred of the aristocracy that was the key to his acquiring more dictatorial power than the aristocracy had ever had. In the 20th century, the communists gained power by promoting public hatred of the czars and capitalists. In Germany, Adolf Hitler gained power by promoting hatred of Jews and Bolsheviks. In each case, the power gained led to greater misery and bloodshed than anything the old regime could have done.

Let me be clear: I'm not equating America's liberals with Robespierre, Josef Stalin and Hitler. I am saying that promoting jealousy, fear and hate is an effective strategy for politicians and their liberal followers to control and micromanage businesses.

It's not about the amount of money people earn. If it were, politicians and leftists would be promoting jealousy, fear and hate toward multimillionaire Hollywood and celebrities and sports stars, such as LeBron James ($48 million), Tiger Woods ($75 million) and Peyton Manning ($38 million). But there is no way that politicians could take over the roles of Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga and LeBron James. That means celebrities can make any amount of money they want and it matters not one iota politically.

The Occupy Wall Street crowd shouldn't focus its anger at wealthy CEOs. A far more appropriate target would be the U.S. Congress.

SOURCE

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Wall Street Protesters Half Right

John Stossel

What's there to say about Occupy Wall Street? The answer isn't so simple. Some complain about taxpayer bailouts of businesses. Good for them. In a true free market, failing firms would go out of business. They couldn't turn to Washington for help.

But many protesters say they're against capitalism. Now things get confusing. What do they mean? If by "capitalism" they mean crony capitalism (let's call it crapitalism), a system in which favored business interests are supported by government, I'm against that, too.

But if they mean the free market, then they are fools. When allowed to work, the market has lifted more people out of the mud and misery of poverty than any government, ever.

The protesters are also upset about income disparity. Here again we should make distinctions. To the extent the country's income disparity is the result of crony capitalism, it's bad.

Yet even if America had a true free market, there would be income disparity. It's a byproduct of freedom. Some people are just more ambitious, more energetic and more driven, and some have that ineffable knack of sensing what consumers want. Think Steve Jobs.

But it shouldn't matter if the income gap between you and rich people grows. What should matter is that your living standard improves.

Your living standard many not have improved lately. Over the past decade, median income fell. But that's an aberration largely caused by the bursting of the real estate bubble. Despite Wall Street protesters' complaints about rich people gaining at the expense of the poor, the poorest fifth of Americans are 20 percent wealthier than they were when I was in college, and despite the recession, still richer than they were in 1993.

And income statistics don't tell the whole story. Thanks to the innovations of entrepreneurs, today in America, even poor people have clean water, TV sets, cars and flush toilets. Most live better than kings once lived -- better even than the middle class lived in 1970.

Some protesters say they hate the market process that makes that possible. They call rich people "robber barons." That term was used by American newspapers to smear tycoons like Cornelius Vanderbilt and John D. Rockefeller. But Vanderbilt and Rockefeller were neither robbers nor barons. They weren't barons because they weren't born rich. They weren't robbers because they didn't steal. They got rich by serving customers well. As Burton Folsom wrote in "The Myth of the Robber Barons," there were political entrepreneurs, who made their fortunes through government privilege, and market entrepreneurs, who pleased consumers.

Rockefeller and Vanderbilt were market entrepreneurs. Vanderbilt invented ways to make travel cheaper. He used bigger ships and served food onboard. People liked that, and the extra customers he attracted allowed him to lower costs. He cut the New York-Hartford fare from $8 to $1. That helped people.

Rockefeller was called a monopolist, but he wasn't one. He had 150 competitors -- including big companies like Texaco and Gulf. No one was ever forced to buy his oil. Rockefeller got rich by finding cheaper ways to get oil products to the market. His competitors vilified him because he "stole" their customers by lowering prices. Ignorant reporters repeated their complaints.

In truth, Rockefeller's price cuts made life better. Poor people used to go to bed when it got dark, but thanks to Rockefeller, they could afford fuel for lanterns and stay up and read at night. Rockefeller's "greed" may have even saved the whales. When he lowered the price of kerosene, he eliminated the need for whale oil, and the slaughter of whales suddenly stopped. Bet your kids won't read "Rockefeller saved the whales" in environmental studies class.

I have at least found some common ground with some Wall Street protest supporters. Joe Sibilia, who runs the website CSRWire (Corporate Social Responsibility), told me, "You can't have an environment where people are betting on financial instruments with the expectation that the government is going to bail them out."

So we agree that Wall Street bailouts are intolerable. Now we just have to teach our progressive friends that truly free markets work for the benefit of all.

SOURCE

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Obama does something right

The White House announced we're putting boots on the ground in sub-Saharan Africa. President Obama notified Congress that he's sending about 100 combat-equipped troops to advise African forces on how best to kill or capture (but hopefully kill) one of the truly hideous villains breathing today, Joseph Kony, and destroy his militia cult, the Lord's Resistance Army.

And Obama is absolutely right to do it.

The news was so sudden, unexpected and just plain odd that the reaction from both left and right has been hurried and confused. Many claims are simply wrong. For instance, the LRA is not a "Christian" militia. The LRA routinely burns down churches and slaughters the congregants, but usually not before raping and mutilating them.

Kony is a classic example of the charismatic terrorist cult leader. He blends indigenous witchcraft with bits of Christianity and Islam (soldiers pray the rosary and bow to Mecca) to brainwash his uneducated, terrified flock of hostages and child soldiers, many of whom were forced to murder their own parents.

Here's a graphic passage from a 2006 report from Christianity Today on the LRA:

"Under threat of death, LRA child soldiers attack villages, shooting and cutting off people's lips, ears, hands, feet, or breasts, at times force-feeding the severed body parts to victims' families. Some cut open the bellies of pregnant women and tear their babies out. Men and women are gang-raped. As a warning to those who might report them to Ugandan authorities, they bore holes in the lips of victims and padlock them shut. Victims are burned alive or beaten to death with machetes and clubs. The murderous task is considered properly executed only when the victim is mutilated beyond recognition."

It's also worth noting that Obama is acting in compliance with a bill unanimously passed by both houses of Congress in 2009, which called for the president to take steps to "mitigate and eliminate the threat to civilians and regional stability posed by the Lord's Resistance Army."

More HERE

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A Soviet future is closer than you might think

The most amazing aspects of the accelerating American submission to the state are: 1) how matter-of-fact we are in contemplating massive government interventions, such as President Barack Obama's latest stimulus "jobs" plan, and 2) how virtually no one notices the blatant Marxist overtones. When someone does, a la "Joe the Plumber" at the end of the 2008 campaign season, he or she is mocked off the stage.

President Obama demonstrated how this is done in January 2010 when, during an unusual White House meeting with congressional Republicans about his pending health-care legislation - another massive government intervention into the private sector - he declared: "If you were to listen to the debate, and, frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think this thing was some Bolshevik plot."

I remember cringing when a smattering of applause arose from the GOP ranks, as though some Republicans actually believed the president had delivered a punch line revealing the absurdity of considering "Obamacare" a government apparatus for seizing control of the lives of citizens - which it is. And that's no joke.

I wish any Republican had replied: "Not necessarily a 'plot,' sir, but a program that is indeed 'Bolshevik' in conception, design and purpose nonetheless. Government control of private sector activity, as the American people well know (or should), is aptly described as 'Bolshevik' - or Marxist, socialist, collectivist, statist and, for that matter, fascist, too. Indeed, nationalized health care was one of the first programs enacted by the Bolsheviks after they seized power in 1917."

But, no. Among the many deep psychological factors repressing such a factually devastating response is pure historical ignorance. This isn't entirely our fault. That is, the truth about Bolshevism and closely related creeds barely makes it into our curricula - another Bolshevik plot, if you ask me. Indeed, the shocking intelligence history of communist plotters who secretly sabotaged our government barely dents our understanding of history even now, some 20 years after secret archives in Moscow and Washington opened, somewhat, to disgorge incontrovertible proof of pro-Soviet agents operating in the highest reaches of power.

But if nationalized health care is a demonstrably Bolshevik program, "stimulus spending" is what you might call a genuine Bolshevik plot. Why? One of the Kremlin's greatest agents you probably never heard of played a leading role in introducing stimulus spending as a macroeconomic policy for the first time in U.S. history during the Franklin D. Roosevelt years.

The agent's name was Lauchlin Currie, and, as M. Stanton Evans writes in his indispensable 2007 book "Blacklisted by History," he ranks "among the most influential Soviet agents ever in the U.S. government, if only by virtue of his portfolio in the White House dealing with affairs of China." Currie, an administrative assistant to FDR, was instrumental in the U.S.-government-wide communist plot to turn China red.

But that's not all he did. Currie pops up in nine KGB cables translated by American cryptographers in what is known as the Venona Project, which became public in 1995. From these and other archival sources we have learned that Currie passed secret documents and shared sensitive political intelligence with Soviet spymasters. Equally as damaging, Currie used his stature as a senior Roosevelt aide to shut down investigations into the activities of other American traitors operating inside government.

While I haven't seen mention of Currie's economic activities in KGB documents, how does stimulus spending sound now on discovering that this bona fide Soviet agent was its leading proponent? In "Roosevelt, the Great Depression and the Economics of Recovery" (University of Virginia Press, 2005), Elliot Rosen, professor emeritus of history at Rutgers, writes: "The initial rationale for public expenditure as a stimulus to the economy was provided by Currie, who won a wide and influential audience in the Roosevelt administration." As assistant research director for the Federal Reserve, his position before moving to the White House, "Currie provided an economic rationale" for deficit spending. "Wartime aside," Rosen writes, "no precedent existed for budget unbalance." Not surprisingly, another Currie project was to push for the "abandonment of the concept of annual budget balance."

So that's where balanced budgets went, and stimulus spending came from. Think of it: One agent of communist influence in high places, and the U.S. economy was revolutionized.

If only Americans could learn to recognize a Bolshevik plot when they see one.

SOURCE

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Mormons and evangelicals getting on better these days

The newfound dialogue between Mormons and Evangelicals has left the melee in favor of the gentleman's war. While it can get messy and sticky at times, the general tenor of the battle seems wholly improved and marks a significant thaw in their relations.

For example, in his chapter on Mormon theology, Mosser notes: "One has failed to appreciate Mormonism's distinctiveness if one can classify it as Christian without qualifications." I believe this is a definition that most Mormons would agree with.

And the dialogue continues. Just this month, Stephen Webb, Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Wabash College published an extraordinary article examining the Mormon faith. He writes: "Mormonism can be a controversial topic for many non-Mormon Christians, but I have come to the conclusion that no theology has ever managed to capture the essential sameness of Jesus with us in a more striking way."

Much more HERE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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

****************************

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More skepticism about the death of Hitler

You can read here an overview of another book that claims Hitler did not die in Berlin but escaped to Argentina. I said in my previous post on the subject that I have my own reasons -- founded on my own close study of Hitler's history and psychology -- for not believing that.

I am beginning to wonder however -- not because of the new book but because of the response to it. The critics of the book say that it is a "consensus" of the experts that Hitler died in Berlin and the publisher should be ashamed for publishing such a book. That is so close to what defenders of the global warming hoax say that my skeptical antennae begin to twitch.

Moreover they admit that the alleged fragment of Hitler's skull held by the Russians is not in fact Hitler's and that there was a great deal of confusion in Hitler's bunkler at the time of the Russian surge into Berlin.

The only "proof" they offer that Hitler died in his Berlin bunker is the testimony from one of Hitler's closest aides who says that he saw Hitler dead there. The possibility that one of Hitler's aides might have lied to protect his boss has apparently not occurred to them.

I think I will now have to say that I am agnostic on the matter.

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Occupy This!

Hey Wall Street “occupiers.” What do you suppose would happen to the United States if the rest of us – I’ll call us “the other 99.99%” – started behaving like you?

Will you allow this question to “occupy” your minds for a moment? Seriously, what would happen to our country if we all chose to do nothing but take up space on “public” property (or even on other people’s private property as some of you have done), consume resources at other people’s expense, and spend several days in a row not producing things? Have you even thought of what might happen, if the rest of us followed your “example?”

Participants in the nationwide “occupy” movement would probably be shocked to know this. But the fact is, their oh-so-important demonstrations are able to occur as they do because the majority of us in America do not think and act the way they do. In fact, to be even more precise, their choices are enabled in no small part by – gasp!- American-styled Capitalism! Yet just as those who burn the U.S. flag fail to understand that the object they desecrate is emblematic of the freedom they exercise, the occupiers fail to see that the “C-word” which they loathe is precisely what makes their occupying possible.

Consider the property on which the demonstrations are occurring. Most of them have happened on public property – city streets, public parks, and so forth – while some of the protestations have migrated on to privately-owned commercial and residential property. In either case, the demonstrations have occurred on property that belongs to somebody - property that has been purchased with money, and that is “owned” by some group or individual.

The occupiers seem to convey a vague belief that land just simply “exists,” and it rightly belongs to “everybody.” Yet if they were only interested in “land” on which to hang-out, then they could just as easily gather in the virgin forests of upstate New York or the un-refined terrain of the rural Nevada desert.

But that’s not what the occupiers are doing. Oh, no, they’re enjoying the modern comforts and conveniences of developed land – land entailing well-built and maintained streets and sidewalks, and nicely manicured lawns – all of which were created by somebody else’s labor and purchased with that dreaded thing called money.

And guess what, occupiers? The labor that built the streets and walkways, the education that prepared the laborers, and the capital that purchased the land and paid for the labor, were all brought about by capitalism and our free-market enterprise system. Even if you’re on “government property,” the government bought it with tax dollars that were generated in our free-market economic system.

Speaking of labor - how would you like it, occupiers, if both government and private-sector workers in and around your demonstrations chose to join you, rather than to continue working at their jobs and continue serving you? Imagine, for example, if the NYPD officers assigned to patrol Wall Street – no doubt dismissed as “oppressors” or “the man” by the occupiers but who nonetheless keep the demonstrators safe – were to stop working at their jobs, and chose instead to become occupiers themselves. Might you, occupiers, become a bit inconvenienced, or maybe even endangered?

And what if the workers and managers at the local Starbucks, McDonald’s, and other service businesses chose to protest with you, and allowed their stores to remain closed? Might that create a little problem, occupiers?

Or what if the owners and operators of these for-profit capitalistic enterprises actually became as greedy and evil as you characterize them to be, occupiers, and they started denying you entrance in to their facilities? What if you could no longer do your potty breaks and your after-the-overnighter-in-the-park wash ups in their restrooms that are paid-for with the wealth of the business owners?

The occupy movement appears as though it will be with us for the foreseeable future. And perhaps the only thing worse than the selfish, narcissistic, vacuous behavior and rhetoric of the occupiers is the fact that our President and members of his party in Congress have given their blessing to it all.

The good news is that a majority of us Americans do not speak and behave as the occupiers do. We choose to both consume, and to produce, and we choose to think as well as to feel. We understand the basic tenet of capitalism, that one earns a day’s pay by doing a day’s work.

We also realize that if too many people choose only to consume and live off the largesse of others, then our nation is doomed. And as the late, great “one percenter” Steve Jobs might say, a majority of us choose to “think different.”

SOURCE

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Tea Party Represents America, Not Occupy Wall Street

For years, I have been impressed with this young man I see working at Walmart retrieving shopping carts in the parking lot. He is challenged, I suspect from birth, with physical issues involving an arm and a leg. I saw him leaving work one evening in his car. While I do not know his living situation, I do know he has a job and drives what I assume is his own car.

Looking at this young man hobbling around doing his job, one could think, “Why isn't this poor soul home collecting disability?” He obviously prefers the dignity which accompanies earning his own money. Thus, the reason for my utmost respect for him.

Then, I look at the Occupy Wall Street despicable mobs; spoiled brat college students, America hating Marxists, paid professional protesters and plain old lazy bottom feeders, all demanding freebies while claiming ownership of the fruit of other folk's labor. And the left expects me to respect and sympathize with these parasites.

The liberal media, the left and the Obama administration are trying to convince us these ignorant arrogant Occupy Wall Street knuckleheads represent the thinking of most Americans. If their premise were true, we would be in deep, deep trouble as a nation. Fortunately, these mobs are NOT a majority.

Like parents who are in denial protecting a juvenile delinquent child, the left is doing everything in their power to portray these violent, destructive, anti-Semitic and ungodly Occupy Wall Street thugs in a positive light. Meanwhile, the left remains relentless in their quest to slander the tea party with false undocumented accusations of racism and violence.

The Tea Party movement which is driven by “We The People” is the polar opposite of the George Soros and far left organizations funded Occupy Wall Street assault on Capitalism and America. How dare they compare their low rent “trashy movement” to the dignified Tea Party.

As a Tea Party activist/performer who has traveled on five Tea Party Express national bus tours, I have attended over 300 tea parties. I can assure you the well-informed, hard working and decent people who attend tea parties represent the thinking of a majority of Americans, not the Occupy Wall Street mobs.

While Occupy Wall Street participants trash, vandalize and disrespect public parks and government buildings, we tea party patriots leave our rally sites the way we found them or cleaner. The Tea Party is inspired by love for America and a desire to follow our Constitution. It is also in rebellion of political correctness and about restoring values and principles which have made America great. Tea Party goals are far superior to Occupy Wall Street which proclaims, “You rich guys have too much and we're takin' it!”

Occupy Wall Street is nothing more than a vile orgy of class envy, covetousness and hatred of achievers. You Occupy losers need to get a clue, a life and a job!

SOURCE

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Hitler's predecessors were American do-gooders and "scientists"

Below is an editorial from the 1911 "Scientific American". It sounds very reasonable but that makes it an even better example of the deplorable "unintended consequences" of government interventionism

ADA JUKE is known to anthropologists as the "mother of criminals." From her there were directly descended one thousand two hundred persons. Of these, one thousand were criminals, paupers, inebriates, insane, or on the streets. That heritage of crime, disease, inefficiency and immorality cost the State of New York about a million and a quarter dollars for maintenance directly. What the indirect loss was in property stolen, in injury to life and limb, no one can estimate.

Suppose that Ada Juke or her immediate children had been prevented from perpetuating the Juke family. Not only would the State have been spared the necessity of supporting one thousand defective persons, morally and physically incapable of performing the functions of citizenship, but American manhood would have been considerably better off, and society would have been free from one taint at least.

Instances such as these are not isolated. Ever since the late Sir Francis Galton? gave us his science of Eugenics, which in its most literal sense means "good breeding," the scientific students of mankind, the directors of insane asylums and hospitals, criminologists the world over, have been compiling statistics to show not only the danger of permitting the marriage of criminals, lunatics, and the physically unfit, but the effect upon" mankind. Thus, Prof. Karl Pearson?, Galton's ablest disciple, has driven home the necessity of the scientific study of the human race in many a telling statistical comparison and monograph. He has shown that in Great Britain 25 per cent of the, population (and that the undesirable element in England) is producing 50 per cent of English children, and that if this goes on unchecked, national deterioration and degeneracy must inevitably result.

Galton originally worked only with statistics, and in his capable hands, they proved a powerful weapon. After he had enunciated the principles of Eugenics, Mendel's law of heredity was revived and applied to the problem. Imperfectly understood as that law may be as yet, nevertheless it enables us to prophesy with considerable accuracy what the offspring of animals, plants and human beings may be, not only in the next generation, but in generations to come. Mendelian principles have no doubt long been followed by professional animal breeders in an empirical way, but only within recent years have enough data been accumulated to show that they apply with equal force to human beings.

We know enough about the laws of heredity, we have enough statistics from insane asylums and prisons, we have enough genealogies, to show that, although we may not be able directly to improve the human race as we improve the breed of guinea pigs, rabbits or cows, because of the rebellious spirit of mankind, yet the time has come when the lawmaker should join hands with the scientist, and at least check the propagation of the unfit. Prizes have been offered to crack trotters for beating their own record, $10,000 for a fifth of a second, all for the purpose of evolving a precious two-minute horse. Yet we hear of no prizes which are offered for that much worthier object, the physically and intellectually perfect man.

Fortunately the need of intelligent legislation on the subject is being driven home by scientific men and Eugenic associations here and abroad. The Eugenics laboratory founded by Sir Francis Galton and the American Breeders' Association have done much to clear away the popular prejudices inevitably encountered in such educational work and to prepare the ground for legislative action. Some States have already passed laws that show an appreciation of the situation.

The proper attitude to be taken toward the perpetuation of poor types is that which has been attributed to Huxley. "We are sorry for you," he is reported to have said; "we will do our best for you (and in so doing we elevate ourselves, since mercy blesses him that gives and him that takes), but we deny you the right to parentage. You may live, but you must not propagate."

The absurdity of legislation to cure social evils without scientific facts to base that legislation upon, is no more apparent than in the disposal of the insane. In Wethams's "Family and the Nation," it is stated: "According to the mid-Victorian concept, a man was either sane or insane-quite mad or completely cured. How he became mad, how completely he was cured, were not taken into consideration." It is not enough to take care of an insane man. To discharge him after a period of a few months or a few years and brand him as cured, when his whole family history points to the fact. that he is a hereditary epileptic or lunatic, and to place no barriers in his path when he attempts to marry, is statesmanship of the poorest order.

If the Eugenist has his way, "well-born" will acquire a new meaning. It will not cease to mean descent from a proud and noble race that has accomplished great things in the past, but it will also mean that the stock descended from that race is composed of men and women who will live up to its traditions, who will have that perfect physique and stable mental organization which Maudsley, that most literary and philosophical of psychiatrists, calls "the highest sanity."

SOURCE

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Some "civilty" from an aging Leftist film-star

Susan Sarandon has been slammed for calling the Pope a Nazi. The 65-year-old American actress made the comment about Pope Benedict XVI over the weekend during an appearance at the Bay Street Theatre in New York while talking about her 1995 film Dead Man Walking. She said she had sent a copy of the book it was based on to the Pope, but then clarified which one she was talking about.

"The last one, not this Nazi one we have now," she told interviewer Bob Balaban. When he showed his disapproval of her comments Sarandon allegedly then repeated the comment drawing laughter from the crowd.

But Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League told TMZ that the comments made by the Thelma & Louise star were "obscene". "Joseph Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) was conscripted into the Nazi Youth the way every other 14-year-old German boy was at the time," Donohue explained. "Unlike most others, he not only refused to go to the compulsory meetings - he actually deserted the Hitler Youth. Which is precisely why Jews today regard him as a friend, not as an enemy. "In short, what Sarandon said is positively obscene."

SOURCE

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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Monday, October 17, 2011

More academic evidence of the importance of genes and the UNIMPORTANCE of your home environment
"Human values: Genetic and environmental effects on five lexically derived domains and their facets"

By Walter Renner et al.

Abstract

Whereas a substantial genetic component of Conservatism and Religiosity is well documented, there is little evidence with respect to the behavior genetics of other aspects of human values. A sample of 157 monozygotic and 74 dizygotic twins reared together received the Austrian Value Questionnaire (AVQ), which measures a broad variety of value domains and their facets, found by the lexical approach in the German language. Family resemblance of Intellectualism, Harmony, Materialism, and Conservatism was best explained by additive or dominance genetic and non-shared environmental effects, whereas the influence of the environment shared by twins was negligible. In contrast, Religiosity was transmitted by additive genetic, shared and non-shared environmental influences. At the level of facets, the Intellectualism and Harmony showed a homogenous etiology while Religiosity, Materialism, and Conservatism were etiologically heterogeneous.

Personality and Individual Differences. In Press, Corrected Proof - doi:10.1016/j.paid.2011.09.003

Aren't you glad that there's someone around to translate that academic Double-Dutch for you?

Note initially that after decades of research it is now generally accepted that both political and religious ideology is substantially determined by your genes. You didn't CHOOSE to be a Conservative or religious: You were BORN that way. That still grates on the teeth of most people but that is what the inheritance research has repeatedly shown. Exactly WHAT is inherited which makes you a Leftist is still not pinned down but my bet is that it is a tendency to be miserable. Happiness is definitely a stable trait and conservatives are certainly happier, which again shows up repeatedly in research.

But that is all prelude. The reseachers above werre looking for OTHER things that might be genetically inherited. They found that traits of Intellectualism, Harmony, Materialism, and Conservatism were all determined heavily by genetics but hardly at all by the environment. Religiosity, however, was to a degree influenced by your environment. Pretty simple, really -- even if runs against almost everybody's preconceptions.

You now see why elections are won or lost according to how well the candidate appeals to the voter in the middle. Most of us are born conservative (happy) or Leftist (miserable) and can't be changed from that. It's only the minority who are half way between happy and miserable who can be swung. Background on previous research in the area here

Clarifying note: It is your tendency to be religious in general that is inherited, not your particular religion.

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ObamaCare Starts to Unravel

The real story behind the Class program failure, and what to do now

Now that one of ObamaCare's major new benefit programs has been scrapped, liberals are trying to make stone soup by claiming that the Obama Administration merely committed an act of "good government." They claim that when this long-term care insurance program proved to be unworkable, the Administration conceded as much, and now it's gone. So let's review the evidence, not least because it so perfectly illustrates the recklessness that produced the Affordable Care Act.

When Democrats were pasting it together in 2009 and 2010, the immediate attraction of the program known by the acronym Class was that its finances could be gamed to create the illusion that a new entitlement would reduce the deficit. Ending the complicated Class budget gimmick erases the better part of ObamaCare's purported "savings," but it's also worth focusing on the program's long-run political goals.

For decades Democrats have been trying to put government on the hook for middle-class costs like home health services ($1,800 a month on average) and nursing homes ($70,000 to $80,000 per year). On paper, Class was supposed to be like normal insurance, funding benefits through premiums with no subsidy. But since the budget gimmick and the program's larger structure meant that premiums could never cover benefits, Democrats were trying to force a future Congress to prevent a Class bankruptcy using taxpayer dollars.

As the costs to the federal fisc continued to climb, the Democratic gambit was that Class would gradually morph into another part of Medicare. Insurance depends on younger, healthier people signing up to cross-subsidize the older and sicker, but under the Class program as written almost all of its enrollees would soon also be beneficiaries.

So to fix this "adverse selection," the plan was for Congress to eventually make participation mandatory, with the so-called premiums converted into another payroll tax and the benefits into another entitlement. Former White House budget director Peter Orszag has been writing that the long-term care insurance market can't function without a mandate, while HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius declined to rule one out at a Senate hearing in February. Now they tell us.

The only reason the Health and Human Services Department pre-emptively called off this scheme is that former New Hampshire Senator Judd Gregg succeeded in inserting a proviso that required the Class program's reality to match Democratic promises as a matter of law. If HHS couldn't provide "an actuarial analysis of the 75-year costs of the program that ensures solvency throughout such 75-year period," it couldn't be legally implemented.

In other words, HHS had to prove that the Class program wouldn't go broke the way it was designed to—and actuarial analysis is a matter of math, not politics. In a 48-page report that HHS submitted to Congress Friday, the department concedes that it is literally impossible to create any kind of long-term care program under the law's statutory text in which revenues match expenditures. Such a plan would cost as much as $3,000 per month, which no one would ever buy.

The HHS gnomes even considered "features deviating from or going beyond a plain reading of the statutory language" that its lawyers didn't think could pass legal muster, and they still couldn't avoid violating the known laws of mathematics despite 19 months of trying. HHS lawyers also said the government would have to warn enrollees that the promised benefits weren't contracts and could be abrogated to "dispel any claims that the Class program had misled the public or had encouraged reliance on its programs under false pretenses."

Those pretenses have been obvious all along, with outside analysts and internal Administration experts saying Class wasn't viable. President Obama was a mask of indifference with no response when Paul Ryan took Class apart at the 2010 White House health summit. Democrats included it anyway, but now that the Administration itself has vindicated its critics, Republicans have a new political opportunity to make real health-care legislative progress.

At a minimum the GOP could begin by repealing the Class program altogether, since its legal authority is still intact. "One should never leave a partly loaded gun on the table, even if most of the chambers are empty or just house blanks," writes the American Enterprise Institute's Tom Miller. He also suggests attaching a few of the more destructive provisions and forcing Democrats to defend them, such as Mr. Orszag's Independent Payment Advisory Board of 15 political appointees who have broad unaccountable powers to control health-care markets and health care.

Our suggestion is for a Gregg-like amendment that applies to the entire health law and not simply Class. If reality can't match the rhetoric that accompanied the bill—about fiscal responsibility, bending the cost curve, keeping your health care if you like your health care and all the other false promises—then, legally, it should be repealed like Class. Call it a truth-in-advertising clause. ObamaCare would collapse in a heartbeat.

SOURCE

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Change at the Top Creates Jobs at the Bottom

“When paperwork gets in the way of benefits, that’s a problem.”

So said John Bemis, Secretary-designate of New Mexico’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, appointed by Governor Susana Martinez. What is significant about Bemis’ comment, made during a presentation in front of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association’s Annual meeting on October 3, is that it represents a total change in attitude from the previous administration and is indicative of the difference one person—at the top—can make.

The change in attitude in NM presents a case study from which the rest of the US would be wise to learn.

Governor Richardson’s approach was very much like President Obama’s. He added regulations and appointed people to positions of leadership who made doing business in the state difficult—especially in regard to natural resource management. As a result, businesses moved to other states and revenues suffered.

While some people think one person can't make that much of a difference, NM is proving that couldn't be farther from the truth. A culture of growth and prosperity starts with attitudes at the top.

Governor Martinez was elected in 2010. She appointed her people to head up the various agencies—including John Bemis at the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The rules didn’t change; instead the new leadership reevaluated their application. Rather than dictating just because she can, Governor Martinez has chosen to focus where she can get the most bang for the buck. For example, the limited resources of the Oil Conservation Division can now be directed toward actual environmental issues, rather than enforcing paperwork.

As a result of the change in attitude at the top, industry is more enthusiastic about doing business in the state. As I usually do during August, September and October, I participated in three state-wide events; the annual meetings of the Independent Petroleum Association of New Mexico, New Mexico Mining Association, and New Mexico Oil and Gas Association. The contrast from previous years in the outlook of the participants was startling. They are excited about the possibilities! Instead of the regulations being used like a hammer to beat down all development, departments are now looking to help folks work within the regulations. If the regulations are excessively punitive or inappropriate, industry is encouraged to submit proposed changes—which they’ve done and which are being considered. Things are picking up in New Mexico.

Across the US, we have much the same problem as New Mexico did. We have excessive regulations, businesses are leaving, and revenues are suffering. The leadership has the power to reverse the trend. We’ve seen it in New Mexico. We saw it in August when President Obama instructed the EPA to delay the ozone regulations—which would have been one of the costliest in the history of the US as hundreds of counties would be instantly out of compliance for things as simple as fireworks displays.

The EPA has more tricks up its sleeve, and President Obama’s pick to head up the EPA, Lisa Jackson, has no intention of slowing down.

On October 10, an unprecedented group of Attorney Generals from 25 different states, joined together to ask Secretary Jackson to postpone implementation of the Utility MACT rule because it threatens to endanger electric reliability, eliminate jobs, and saddle consumers with significantly higher costs. The next day, the EPA issued a statement declaring that the rule would be implemented as planned on November 16. The MACT (Maximum Achievable Control Technology) rule condenses potential future coal-fueled power plant improvements and upgrades into an unachievable timeline. As a result of the Utility MACT rule, electricity providers already have outlined which coal-fueled power plants will be shut down. The remaining plants will have to spend billions for the required overhauls for marginal or questionable benefits to public health.

As he did in early September with the ozone regulations, President Obama has the power to tell Secretary Jackson to slow down, delay, or stop altogether. However, without intense public pressure, he is unlikely to do anything. The Utility MACT rule is just one of the expensive rules flowing down from the EPA that will cause America to lose important and cost-effective energy that is essential to economic growth. The higher costs will be passed on to the already struggling businesses and households.

It is actions like the EPA’s complete disregard for the public’s outcry, as expressed by the 25 attorney generals, that has pushed Congress to attempt to limit these excessive regulations through the EPA Regulatory Relief Act of 2011 (HR 2250) passed by the House on October 13—which President Obama says he’ll veto should it make it through the Senate.

The one person at the top makes the difference.

Another example is the Wilderness and Roadless Area Relief Act (HR 1581), which aims to legislatively push what the one person at the top won’t do.

There are 43 million acres of federal lands that for decades have been managed as “wilderness”—meaning that potential grazing and resource development is limited, firefighting efforts are thwarted, and recreation and tourism are restricted—despite the fact that these areas have already been studied and determined to be unsuitable for wilderness. The BLM and the Forest Service has recommended that the restrictive management practices be lifted. Instead of encouraging Congress to do so, President Obama’s Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued an order to lock up more lands with a new label: “Wild Lands”—conflicting with the Wilderness Act which states that only Congress has the right to designate wilderness areas.

The Wilderness and Roadless Area Relief Act will remove these lands from limbo and opens them up for multiple uses, while giving local communities a voice in how the lands are managed. Unfortunately, based on their record, the people at the top are unlikely to support the recommendations of the BLM and Forest Service. They will probably choose to keep these lands locked up, blocking economic development and job creation.

However, remember, President Obama did order Secretary Jackson to delay implementation of the ozone rules. We can be confident that he didn’t do this because he one day had an epiphany and realized that the regulations were too harsh. He backed down because public pressure was so intense that it became clear his support of the expensive rule threatened his re-election.

Ideally, the public pressure changes the behavior of people at the top—absent that, like we did in New Mexico—we change the people at the top.

Because, one person can make a difference.

SOURCE

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ELSEWHERE

NASA buys flights on Virgin Galactic’s private spaceship: "The space tourism company Virgin Galactic has struck a deal with NASA worth up to $4.5 million for research flights on the company's new private spaceliner SpaceShipTwo, Virgin Galactic officials announced Oct. 13. Under the deal, NASA will charter up to three flights on Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo, an air-launched spacecraft designed to carry eight people on trips to suborbital space."

How to lie with statistics: Tax rates: "A good deal of the recent rhetoric in support of Democratic proposals for raising taxes is designed to make it sound as though rich people pay federal taxes at a lower rate than everyone else. That, as one can easily check by looking at the published figures from the Congressional Budget Office, is not only false but wildly false."

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

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my Facebook page as I rarely access it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

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)

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)

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