Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Racial Revolution?

Thomas Sowell

Now that census data show -- for the first time in American history -- the number of white babies born exceeded by the number of babies born to non-white minorities the question is: What does this mean for the future of American society?

Politically, it means that minorities who traditionally vote overwhelmingly for Democrats can ensure that the country veers ever further to the left over the years, making America more like the welfare states of Europe, whose unsustainable spending led ultimately to financial crises and widespread riots.

But this is not strictly a matter of whites versus non-whites. Jews vote consistently, and almost as overwhelmingly, for Democrats as blacks do. Moreover, Asian Americans are by no means as likely as other non-whites to vote for the class warfare, tax and spend agenda of the Democrats.

Yet when all is said and done, the future political direction of the country seems painfully clear from these demographic trends, unless something happens to change the current correlation between race and political party affiliation. Moreover, even that may not be enough.

Even if Republicans can siphon off enough votes from groups that normally vote for Democrats to keep the two-party system alive, the preservation of the Republican Party is a trivial issue compared to the preservation of American society.

If Republican politicians save themselves by becoming Democrats under a different label -- and appeal to minorities as minorities, rather than as Americans -- the same policies and attitudes will have the same destructive effect on the American economy and society.

Refusing to cut back on entitlement spending, for example, means that the current generation can continue to enjoy government-subsidized amenities, at the expense of future generations, who can be left to struggle to get necessities, after the money runs out and government's promises can no longer be kept.

The growth of ever bigger and even more intrusive government means that the freedom, for which generations of Americans have fought and died on battlefields, around the world can be slowly but steadily lost within our own country.

Painful as such outcomes can be the dangers do not end there. A continuation of the current political tendency to take away the money required for national defense, and spend it instead on handouts that will win votes, means that our enemies around the world will have golden opportunities at our expense.

Again, the dangers may not be immediate. But they can be catastrophic when they catch up with us -- and catch us unprepared. We recovered from Pearl Harbor at enormous cost, including the needless deaths of American soldiers, fighting for their lives with obsolete military equipment against enemies with state of the art weapons.

But even such sacrifices, which brought us time to catch up during the Second World War, may not even be enough in a nuclear age.

What can be done now, to head off the many dangers in our current political policies and attitudes? There is not much we can do about demographic trends. But the changing composition of the American population is not, in itself, the fundamental danger. After all, vast millions of immigrants crossed the Atlantic for generations on end, and began the process of becoming Americans. Millions of black people likewise began that process after being set free.

Demography is not destiny. But the history of Balkanized and polarized societies in the 20th century is a history of horrors that we dare not ignore.

We are not at that terrible point yet. But that is the direction in which we are headed, under the spell of magic words like "multiculturalism" and "diversity," which have become substitutes for thoughts, even among those who pride themselves on being "thinking people."

Our whole educational system, from the elementary schools to the universities, is permeated with ideologies of group grievances and resentments, painting each group into the corner of its own separate subculture, instead of drawing them into the mainstream of the American culture that made this the greatest nation on earth.

Unless this fashionable Balkanization is stopped, demography can become destiny -- and a tragedy for all.



Hating the Rich

My late father was a man of strong opinion. He despised phonies, cowards and liars. He named names -- sometimes in very close proximity to those being singled out. A veteran of World War II, he recognized a weasel when he saw one. But my dad never denigrated rich people in general.

We lived in Levittown, N.Y., where everybody had pretty much the same -- that is, not much. We ate tuna casserole, hot dogs and Hamburger Helper. My parents never owned a new car.

Ten miles away, my dentist, a college classmate of my father's, lived in Garden City. Lovely place, filled with rich people. My father often drove us through there and never said a disparaging word about the fine lawns and shiny foreign cars. America was the land of opportunity, and Garden City proved it.

But that was then. Today, many Democrats believe the wealthy are bad to the bone. A new Gallup poll asks: "Do you think the U.S. benefits from having a class of rich people or not?" An amazing 46 percent of self-described Democrats answered "or not."

When I asked two left-leaning pundits about this, they said it is all about "income inequality." They asked me whether my father would approve of that. I said he most likely would reject the entire concept of "income inequality" by giving the pundits the same advice he gave me: "If you don't like what they're paying you, work someplace else."

And I followed that advice, moving 10 times in 15 years on my way up the television news ladder. It wasn't easy, but if I thought my employer was hosing me, I began looking around.

That's how capitalism is supposed to work. America is mandated to provide "equal opportunity," not equal outcomes. The boss man can pay what he wants. It's our choice whether to take it or leave it.

President Obama doesn't seem to get that. He often puts forth that wealthy Americans are not paying their "fair share," that somehow the fix is in, and the rich folk are gaming the system at the expense of working people. But for two years, Obama had an adoring Democratic Congress that did absolutely nothing to further the concept of "income equality." The reason? It's unconstitutional. The feds cannot dictate salaries and benefits in the private marketplace. Obamacare is an attempt to breach that constitutional wall. We'll soon see what the Supreme Court says.

Capitalism is no beach day. The strong and sometimes ruthless prosper. The poorly educated and unfocused often fail. For many Americans, failure is unfair and unacceptable in a "just" society. But my dad knew and accepted the truth of capitalism: Some will win big, some will lose big, but most will live comfortable lives in the middle. Just as he did.



Generation Pap

Jonah Goldberg

This is the season of generational twaddle. At graduation ceremonies across the country, politicians, authors, actors and businessmen take to the stage to tell young people they are fantastic simply because they are young. This year, the ritual is more pathetic than usual because there's a presidential election in the offing. And because the current occupant of the White House won in 2008 in no small part due to his success with the "youth vote," he is desperate for them to repeat their blunder.

At the all-women's school Barnard College, President Obama spoke to the audience as if they were an undifferentiated mob of "Julias." I'm referring to the banally creepy imaginary everywoman the Obama campaign has conjured on its website to show that Uncle Sam is now both sugar daddy and husband to the women of America. "Now more than ever -- now more than ever," the president repeated, "America needs what you, the Class of 2012, has to offer." By which he meant their votes for him, of course. But he couched it in all sorts of familiar platitudes.

But in terms of naked pandering, few can match Vice President Joe Biden. Last week, he told a group of college students visiting the White House: "You're an incredible generation. And that's not hyperbole either. Your generation and the 9/11 generation before you are the most incredible group of Americans we have ever, ever, ever produced."

Here's a tip: When you hear Biden say, "And that's not hyperbole," you can be sure it's hyperbole. Actually, here's an even better tip: If Biden's lips are moving, assume it's hyperbole.

The conventional response to this sort of thing is to claim that Biden is giving short shrift to some previous generation. What about the "Greatest Generation" of the World War II era? What about the self-proclaimed baby boomer secular saints of the '60s?

But such arguments are part of the problem. Sure, we can talk about age cohorts and make generalizations about them. But in a very important sense, there really is no such thing as "great generations."

I was born the same year as Brett Favre, one of the most successful quarterbacks in football history. I take no more pride in his record than I feel shame for being born the same year as Divine Brown, the porn star and former prostitute who was arrested for her work with Hugh Grant. Cult murderer psychopath Charles Manson, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, "Brady Bunch" mom Florence Henderson and that guy from NPR, Carl Kassel, were all born the same year (1934). What does one person's birth tell us about the life of another? Absolutely nothing.

Seriously, if your self-esteem is remotely dependent on the year you were born, or on the accomplishments of people who happen to be the same age as you, then you don't have a lot going for you. If you spend your days on your parents' couch, working through cases of Cheetos like they were so many equine feedbags, if bong maintenance marks the outer boundary of your personal responsibilities, then I'm sorry to say your inadequacies aren't mitigated one bit by the fact you were born the same year, never mind decade, as Mark Zuckerberg.

And yet that's the point behind so much generational piffle. Youth politics are the cheapest form of identity politics. At least black people are black their whole lives (Michael Jackson being the exception that proves the rule). Barring surgery, women stay women. But young people don't stay young. Moreover, we treat them as if they're geniuses precisely because they don't know much and have little life experience. Of course there are incredibly bright and knowledgeable young people. But as a rule we're all born stupid and ignorant, and that condition improves only as we become less young.

That politicians pander to anything that moves is hardly a shocking revelation. Nor is it stunning to see the White House treat young people as a homogenized blob they hope to flatter and bribe to the polls come November. To paraphrase H.L. Mencken, if there were a huge bloc of cannibals in this country, the Democrats would promise them tasty missionaries fattened at the taxpayers' expense.

What's dismaying is how much this sort of thing seems to work. Part of what's exciting about being young is the discovery that you are your own person, the captain of yourself. Cheering at the idea that you are a drone, expected to simply "act your age" is a sad declaration of your own self-worth.



Out of Ideas

John C. Goodman

"Out of ideas; out of excuses." That’s Mitt Romney’s critique of Barack Obama. I’d like to second that indictment.

It’s not just the president who is out of ideas. It’s the entire political left. And that’s not a new development. I can’t think of an interesting, left-of-center public policy idea that has gained currency in decades.

How to get the economy moving and create jobs? The liberal answer is more government spending. Yet the "stimulus" package was basically wasted on pork barrel projects of little lasting economic value. One of every two people hired with stimulus money actually had another job before being hired! And the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the long term impact of the stimulus bill will be lower — not higher — national output.

Ditto for the Obama administration’s new budget. Granted, not a single Democrat in Congress supports it. The vote in the House of Representatives was 414 to zero! But suppose the Obama administration budget had become law? After all, the president is implicitly defending his budget ideas when he is out on the campaign trail. The CBO has projected that the latest Obama budget proposal would make our GDP lower, not higher, over the next five years.

Meanwhile, the economic uncertainty the administration is creating is undoubtedly making things worse. Business managers considering hiring new employees are surely burdened by the fact that they do not know what ObamaCare is going to do to their cost of health insurance, what Obama labor regulations are going to do to their other costs of labor, what Dodd/Frank financial regulation is going to do to their ability to borrow or what other regulatory agencies are going to do to their other costs of doing business.

As for entitlement reform, there really is no liberal solution to the financial problems of Social Security, Medicare, disability Insurance or any other entitlement. More than 30 countries have fully or partially privatized their social security systems by creating individual private accounts, by which each new generation of workers can save for their own retirement. But in the United States, a growing number of members of Congress have signed a pledge not to support any Social Security reform that involves the creation of private accounts.

As for health care entitlements, the Obama administration is quietly making war on the only workable solution on the horizon: private health insurance. About two-thirds of all Medicaid enrollees are now in private plans, as are one of every four seniors on Medicare. Nonetheless, there are few things the political left hates more than private enterprise in health care.

The Obama administration has refused to renew a waiver allowing Indiana to continue with its highly successful Health Saving Account plan for Hoosier Medicaid. And as part of Obama Care, several hundred billion dollars is going to be taken away from Medicare Advantage plans that provide seniors with private insurance, similar to the kind of insurance most non-seniors have.

The antipathy toward Medicare Advantage plans is especially hard to understand. President Obama has repeatedly said he wants to encourage electronic medical records, medical homes, integrated care, coordinated care and payment for quality not quantity. Yet the only place in the Medicare system where you can find the president’s ideas actually working are in the Medicare Advantage plans! Unwilling to accept private sector innovation, the administration has its own pilot programs and demonstration projects underway. In the president’s own words, "Let’s find out what works and then go do it." Unfortunately, government-sponsored pilot programs are no substitute for private entrepreneurship. The CBO has analyzed these programs in three separate reports here, here, and here and in each case found them to be not working at all or, at best, producing mediocre results.

As for the most important cause of inequality — our failing public schools — there is no liberal answer to that problem either. Virtually every innovative reform idea — from school vouchers to charter schools to merit pay for teachers — is being resisted by the teachers unions. But when is the last time you saw a liberal politician criticize the National Education Association? How about a liberal columnist? How about the pundits who complain most loudly about the unequal distribution of income?

It’s as though leftwing intellectuals have a tacit agreement not to criticize any group that provides electoral support for the Democratic Party.

So when Mitt Romney says the president is "out of ideas and out of excuses," I say Amen.




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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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