Tuesday, July 03, 2012

National Rottenness

No single area of public life threatens what previously was known as the American Dream more than the apathy of our public officials regarding their fiduciary responsibilities towards their citizens.

They are mismanaging our money and, worse yet, letting others mismanage it, with a wink and a nod that is, for all practical purposes, destroying the concept of personal property.

Recent scandals involving Congressional inside trading, federal investments in bankrupt green companies, inside banking deals that benefited millionaires and billionaires, along with the collapse of investment manager MF Global have contributed to public skepticism, amounting to cynicism, that those we have entrusted to leadership positions have done what British kings, Nazis and Communists have failed to do: namely, kill free and open markets in the US.

Free markets and free governments require public confidence in order to operate successfully. Confidence comes from the public’s perception that the markets and governments are fair- or at least neutral- arbiters for investment and public policy.

Over the last several years, however, there has been mounting evidence that the game of life has been rigged against the general public, not just a little bit, but a lot.

With that realization, our confidence, thus our freedom, has been eroded.

And if either political party is serious about gaining the trust of the electorate again, they had better address some of these scandals before the torches and pitchforks end up on their steps.

Gone are the days when a change of party in Congress or the White House was enough to placate an electorate spoon feed morsels from a media elite of a few dozen national editors. Free and open markets in news and media have replaced a half century old oligarchy. The result has been the slow realization that we have tolerated being wedded to the political equivalent of a bunch of spousal abusers.

For example, the Department of Energy has spent $36 billion on clean energy technology in the form of loan guarantees. And all you need to know about those gauarntees which were originally intended to create jobs, is that the Obama administration has stopped talking about how many jobs they have created, but instead, in a reprise of their bogus stimulus claims, now brag about the jobs they have saved through the program.

Count the Solyndra bankruptcy scandal as a one time charge and be thankful it wasn’t worse. Worse is coming. Instead, look at NRG Energy with a loan guarantee of $1.3 billion creating a whopping 15 permanent jobs. The explanation? According to an analysis of loans made through the D.O.E. program by Peter Schweizer, 80 percent of the loans went to political donors of Obama.

We’ve gotten so used to government graft that plain-old government incompetence would be a welcome relief. But no, we just have to accept the fact that all of our politicians are venial, making legal for themselves what they throw others in jail for.

“Not only can members of Congress legally trade [stocks] on confidential information; they do, despite the potential cost to their reputations,” writes CNN. “The U.S. television program 60 Minutes recently reported that several current members of Congress allegedly used confidential information that they acquired on the job for personal gain.”

At least now they have to report that they are trading strocks, like other insiders.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dumped his holdings in energy companies in 2008, right before the energy market crashed and bought healthcare stocks with the proceeds. Within 6 months Reid was heavily involved in re-writing healthcare laws.

The corruption goes way beyond Congress too.

Former US Senator, New Jersey Governor and Obama pal, Jon Corzine- according to Veep Joe Biden, Corzine was the first person Obama called for economic advice after the election and a key architect of the stimulus law passed by Obama- ran futures firm MF Global so solidly into the ground in a little over a year after being bounced from office that the firm dipped into customer accounts to pay their bills. Not only is that an ethical problem, it’s also illegal.

No arrests have yet been made, as of December 1st. Charlie Gasparino at Fox News says that as much as $1.2 billion dollars in customer money may be missing. Oops.

MF Global is one of the ten largest US bankruptcies of all time, according to the UK’s Independent.

Government insiders have also discovered ways of channeling profits toward their friends when government sponsored enterprises go belly-up for public investors.

In 2008, then-Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson dropped by the offices of Eton Park Capital Management LP in Manhattan. There he shared with a gathering of hedge fund managers how the government would seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, essentially wiping out private shareholders. But publicly, at the same time, he was telling the press that the government intended that Fannie and Freddie remain in the hands of investors.

The discrepancy could have allowed the hedge fund managers present at the meeting to benefit from non-public information. “There's no evidence that they did so after the meeting,” reports BusinessWeek, “[and] tracking firm-specific short stock sales isn't possible using public documents.”

But BusinessWeek says that at least one participant was so shaken by the disclosures that he immediately called his attorney to make sure that he wasn’t breaking any laws. The lawyer’s advice was to immediately stop trading in any securities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because trading those securities while possessing inside information is against the law for mere mortals who don’t work for the federal government.

How did the hedge fund manager know he risked breaking the law, when Secretary Paulson had no clue? What was legal for Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury is illegal for the rest of us.

Living under different laws than the rest of us is so ingrained in our national leadership, that it seems they hardly give it a second thought. “The present era of incredible rottenness is not Democratic,” wrote Mark Twain, “it is not Republican, it is national.”

And that’s the paradox that all of us must grapple with seriously if we wish to preserve both our free markets and our free people.



The benefits of victimhood

(Don't forget that Hitler thought Germany was a victim of the Jews)

Imagine this: A future Republican president invites Tea Party leaders to the White House. Some of them have themselves photographed standing in front of a portrait of President Barack Obama with their middle fingers extended. They then posted these photos on Facebook with the caption "F--k Obama." (Needless to say, the F-word was spelled out.)

Some questions:

1. How much coverage do you think the national press would give to this?

2. How would Democratic -- and Republican -- leaders react?

3. How would Tea Party activists react?

The answers:

1. The mainstream media across America would widely report what had happened and repeatedly show these photos. "The New York Times" would editorialize about the racism of the Tea Party. Liberal columnists would be relentless in their condemnations of the Tea Party as a low life movement of yahoos.

2. Democrats and Republicans alike would condemn these leaders and demand their resignation.

3. Tea Party activists would feel embarrassed by these people who represented them, and they would be deeply concerned that their movement's good name had been permanently tarnished.

Now let's explore a real-life situation from this past week.

President Barack Obama invited activists to the White House's 2012 LGBT pride reception. Two of them, Matthew "Marty" Hart, a director of the leftist organization, Solutions for Progress, and an activist photographer, Zoe Strauss, posed for a photo in front of a portrait of President Ronald Reagan with both their middle fingers extended. They then posted the photo on Facebook with the caption "F--k Reagan" (the F-word is spelled out).

Now let's answer our questions:

First, the liberal, or "mainstream," media never mentioned the incident. Not a word about it appeared in "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," the "Los Angeles Times" or on NPR (which had given Zoe Strauss extensive and laudatory attention just a few weeks earlier). There was no coverage on ABC News, NBC News, or CBS News. "The Huffington Post" reported the incident in this way: "If several raised fingers are any indication, some LGBT activists who visited the White House last week are fully evolved on what they think of President Ronald Reagan."

It was reported by Fox News, on conservative talk radio shows, by the "The Weekly Standard," "National Review" and other conservative journals and websites.

Second, aside from one tepid rebuke from a man named Shin Inouye, the "Director of Specialty Media in the White House Office of Communications," the Democratic Party and other left-wing organizations said nothing.

And, of course, not a word of condemnation from the world of gay activism, other than the conservative gay organization, Log Cabin Republicans.

What are the lessons?

One is that without Fox News, talk radio and conservative journals and websites, one gets an utterly skewed view of the world. If you want to know how the left wins so many elections despite the fact that many more Americans consider themselves conservative rather than liberal, the filtered news they receive is a major reason -- in America and even more so around the world. (I cover this is in detail in my just-published book " Still the Best Hope.")

The other lesson may be even more important: Contempt for norms of decency -- a form of nihilism -- permeates the left generally and leftist activism (among gays and straights) on behalf of gays specifically. Compare, for example, the behavior of the Occupy movement with that of the Tea Party. Both are equally angry at what they deem injurious to society -- economic inequality for the Occupy movement, ever-expanding government and debt for the Tea Party -- but the latter acts so much more civilly and maturely than the former.

Whether it is the notorious art work "Piss Christ" (a crucifix submerged in "artist" Andres Serrano's urine), the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's recent "graffiti art" exhibition, the ubiquitous public use of expletives, the defense of public nudity (the highest court in New York State ruled that there is no difference between women's and men's breasts, therefore women, like men, can go topless in public), the abolition of dress codes in schools, the left revels in giving the finger to religious and civil norms.

Why did these activists for gay causes feel they could act this way in the White House, the most prestigious and revered building in America? Aside from contempt for social norms, the reason is that those who see themselves as victims have impaired consciences. Nothing dulls the conscience quite like regarding oneself and/or one's group as victims. The vast majority of violent criminals believe they are victims of society, poverty, racism, etc.; Islamic terrorists see themselves as victims of the West's alleged "war on Islam;" Germans in the 1930s saw themselves as victims of the Versailles Treaty; and in America today, no one sees themselves as victims as much as gay rights activists do.

What are they victims of? Society's desire to maintain the man-woman definition of marriage, and in Ronald Reagan's case, his alleged ignoring of the AIDS crisis. That explains why gay groups label everyone who supports retaining the man-woman definition of marriage as people filled with hate, and why these activist groups try to destroy the reputations and, where applicable, the businesses of such people. Along with the nihilism -- and immaturity -- that characterizes the activist left, a sense of victimization also explains this defamation of the White House. And it doesn't hurt to know that America's news media will not call you on it.



Trickle Up Economics

The political left wing has long tried to cast doubt on the fairness, and even the efficacy, of free market capitalism by branding it as a "trickle down" system. This epithet is meant to show how the middle and lower classes are dependent on scraps of wealth that happen to fall from the buffet table of the rich. This characterization of an unfair and inefficient system has helped them demonize policies that lower taxes (if they also extend to the wealthy) and reduce regulation on business.

To correct these supposed problems, they have long called for policies to redistribute wealth or for government to inject funds directly into the economy. Either mechanism puts money into the hands of everyday consumers who they claim to be the true engines of economic growth. They believe that consumer spending lies at the root of the economic pyramid. When people spend, business owners are able to sell more products, hire more workers, and reap more profits. In essence, they believe in a system of "trickle up" economics, whereby prosperity flows upward from government into the lower and middle classes and ultimately to the upper class.

But as usual, they have it exactly backwards. The savings that they find so unproductive is actually the foundation upon which the economy rests. Nothing can be consumed until it is produced. The act of spending is meaningless without something to buy. The savings of the rich forms the capital that funds business investment which increases productivity. The more that society produces, the more that can be consumed. The key here is the supply, not the demand. The grass that feeds the zebras comes from seeds, not rain. Capitalists provide the surplus seeds that are planted.

Demand always exists and does not need to be stimulated by cash redistribution. 21st century Americans are no more desirous of cell phones than their parents were. But in 1980 cell phones were in very limited supply and were therefore very expensive. They were the trophy possessions of the super-rich. The reason why they are now as ubiquitous as key chains is not that government stimulated demand, but that industry figured out how to supply them far more efficiently. The supply satisfied the demand. Investment in the telecom sector, which came from real savings of Americans, allowed for that increased productivity.

In this example, the savings of the wealthy and the innovation of entrepreneurs combined to create a huge benefit for society. Call it trickle down if you want, but it would be more honest to simply call it effective. This is the system that built this country. Relying on trickle up will surely destroy it.


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

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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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