Friday, October 12, 2012
Cooking the Books – The Liberal Way
In 2007 the workforce in America was 147 million and today that figure has dropped to 143 million its lowest level since 1981 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic’s “Industrial Survey” of 400,000 businesses). That decline by itself doesn’t give us the whole story because approximately 150,000 new workers have to be added monthly to the workforce to account for population growth. That means without considering retirements the workforce today should total 156 million or 13 million more than today’s total (60 months times 150,000). So who is cooking the books?
The government tells us the unemployment rate dropped from 8.3% of the workforce to 7.8% in the last two months. That means .5% of 143 million or 7.1 million new jobs were added to the workforce in July and August. But according to the same government agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), only 163,000 were added in July and a pathetic 120,000 were added in August. So who is cooking the books?
The question is how do Obama and the Democrats pull off lies like these just before an election. Well folks I hope it isn’t news to you but the bureaucrats in the BLS are Democrats and they make up the team that calls and visits 60,000 Americans every month to determine the unemployment rate (the “Household Survey”). If a person surveyed has worked one day out of the month he is considered “employed” for the whole month including a one-day stint babysitting for a neighbor.
Let’s see. Do you believe the 7.8% figure now? Do you think the bureaucrats were unbiased in asking the Household Survey questions? If you do you are just another one of the fools the “unbiased” media calls their useful idiots. You’ll believe anything they say – or don’t say..
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An editorial from Nevada
After the debate
"[T]he president's top-down interventions have virtually paralyzed our economy -- and [Mitt Romney has] presented a solution. ... The answer is pro-growth tax and regulatory reform. The answer is tax and regulatory certainty for businesses. The answer is growing our way out of the budget deficit with a broader, simpler tax base and reduced rates and deductions for all -- especially the risk-taker, the job creator and the entrepreneur. ...
Mr. Obama has a much different recipe for lifting the middle class: higher taxes on investors, job creators and small businesses; borrowing money to fund more public-sector jobs and government construction projects; borrowing money to fund more green energy enterprises and projects...; and pushing more young people to seek a debt-funded college education when they have little hope of landing a job upon graduation.
The suggestion that tax increases and higher energy prices will lift the middle class defies logic. But it's not terribly surprising coming from an administration that's completely lacking in business experience and openly hostile to free-market capitalism. ...
Mr. Obama has never been the uniting agent of change he promised to be. His two biggest initiatives, the economic stimulus and his health care reform law, were rushed through a Democratic Congress without a single Republican vote, and the electorate responded in 2010 by giving Republicans control of the House. ...
Mr. Romney, however, is a Republican who was elected governor of heavily Democratic Massachusetts. He had to work with Democrats to get things done. His leadership and ability to bring people together saved the Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. As a businessman, his management skills turned failing companies into profitable ones. Mr. Romney vows to do that, again, in Washington.
If we are to avoid a lost decade and a future calamity created by inaction on entitlements and government growth, this nation needs a team of turnaround experts. ...
Mr. Romney is a fine family man who donates millions of dollars to his church and charity every year. There is not a whiff of scandal about him. This is why his opponents have tried to turn his very successes against him. ...
The choice is clear. Only Mitt Romney has the principles and experience needed to put America back on the road to prosperity."
The Monument Society Versus the Free Society
Last week, after the first presidential debate, I spoke at an architecture school in downtown Los Angeles. One of the questions the moderator asked was about American exceptionalism. The foam flecked to his lips at the very phrase. What, pray tell, was American exceptionalism, he asked?
I answered by referencing the Founding Fathers and the freedoms they guaranteed us via the American Constitutional System of checks and balances. What makes us unique guardians of liberty, I said, is that our system is designed to counterbalance interest against interest -- we only act together with the full power of unity when we're actually unified. We prize the individual over the collective.
He scoffed at that suggestion. He derided the founders and the Constitution -- "a 200-year-old document written by dead white slave owners!" -- and suggested an alternative vision of American exceptionalism. American exceptionalism, he said, was characterized by "the things we do together." When he thought of an exceptional America, he thought of certain images: American footprints on the moon, the interstate highway system, Hoover Dam, nationalized health care.
The moderator's perspective was that of President Obama, too. He prizes reliance on the collective because no man can alone build roads or bridges or skyscrapers. As President Obama said, "You didn't build that." Government, says Obama, is the only thing we all belong to. We're "stronger together."
These are two fundamentally different ways of viewing the world. One is based on the value of freedom. The other is based on the value of monuments.
The monument society looks at the Chinese high-speed rail and says: "Let's build one of those." The freedom society looks at the Chinese high-speed rail and says: "At what cost to individual freedom?" Sometimes, collective projects do outweigh the needs of the individual -- see, for example, World War II, in which we mobilized collectively to preserve individual freedom. But the monument society always errs on the side of building the monument, of activating the collective; the freedom society always errs on the side of individual liberty.
We are now at the tipping point in America between these two visions. We must make a choice. Do we want to give our children monuments -- tremendous buildings, vast bureaucracies, bulwarks of human collectivism? Or do we want to give them freedom? Do we want to build pyramids? Or do we want to build families?
These two visions are in opposition now because we have moved too far in the direction of the monument society. And that diminishes human happiness.
It is remarkable how little the monument society left talks about human happiness and fulfillment. Instead, they prefer to talk about a "better tomorrow."
They talk about moving "forward." They imply that we must be miserable today to be happy tomorrow -- or, alternatively, that our children must be miserable tomorrow so that we can be happy today.
That's what the monument society is all about. Jewish Midrash teaches about the Biblical Tower of Babel, the monument society. The tower became so tall and so grand that it supposedly took a year to shuttle bricks from the bottom of the tower to the top. People wept when a brick fell, but did not care if a man died. There were always more workers. But bricks were invaluable.
The builders of that tower would have given their children a magnificent site. But those children would have been slaves to the monument. There would have been no happiness. Just a vast tower, crumbling to dust over generations.
The founders recognized that Americans, given freedom to pursue their own goals, made self-reliant, are happy. The power of the collective is magnificent, but only when the people agree on utilizing it. That is the balance the founders drew, and that is why they were so wise. Our liberties must be preserved from the collective, but in times of crisis, we must all come together. The collective must not be hijacked for particular interests, forcing men to labor for the selfish benefit of powerful interests. The collective must only be activated when absolutely necessary. Anything less destroys human freedom, and turns us into the monument society.
Only a society that prizes individual freedom over collective mobilization can hand that freedom to its children. It can make monuments -- living monuments. Children who grow up free. Who inhabit those great skyscrapers. Who visit Mount Rushmore, not as a relic of an ancient civilization, but as a tribute to the values of those whose faces are carved into it.
That is American exceptionalism. That's what we seek to give to the world. We are the monument. Our families are the monument: a monument to God and to liberty. Because, in the end, all towers crumble to dust. All that matters is the living. Monuments mean nothing if there are no free people to honor them
Ending the War on Kidneys
Government authoritarianism is condemning thousands to needless death
It’s an oft told tale how drug prohibition has led to the promotion of organized crime, skyrocketing violence here and abroad, and a simultaneous increase in potency and decrease in safety. (See here and here for examples.) The solution to these perhaps unintended but predictable negative consequences is legalization. So it is, too, with the sale of organs–kidneys in particular.
Meanwhile in Iran…
Since 1984, under the leadership of Senator Al Gore, the United States government has made it illegal to buy or sell kidneys and in so doing has effectively launched a “war on kidneys.” Again, the consequences, unintended but predictable, are mostly if not wholly bad.
According to the Human Resources and Services Administration there are currently over 93,000 persons in the United States on the waiting list for a donated kidney. Another source estimates that the list grows by 3,000 to 4,000 candidates a year. Between 1988 and 2008 yet another source reports that the number of kidney transplants performed in the United States has ranged from 8,873 (in 1988) to a high of 17,091 (in 2006) for an average of about 13,847 per year. While that may indicate a dwindling list of candidates, the reality is that the number who die each year still runs into the thousands.
The United States Department of Health and Human Services, for instance, claims that 18 people die each day waiting for a kidney donor. That’s 6,570 deaths a year, and though their figure for the waiting list is considerably higher than the HRSA’s, they are in the same ballpark.
Kidney sales are legal in Iran, which offers a mix of private and government financing for kidney transplants. Not surprisingly, waiting lists there are practically nonexistent (because of a larger supply), and so is the number of people dying while waiting for one.
Moreover, the incidence of black markets and of “medical tourism”—in which relatively wealthy foreigners travel to relatively poor countries to buy local kidneys or have other procedures performed at lower cost than in the United States—would probably fall, much as legalization of alcohol after Prohibition saw the downfall of speakeasies and bathtub booze.
What’s the Downside?
And although some estimate that the cost of a kidney may be as high as $100,000—which would make the total cost of the transplant procedure around $350,000—keep in mind that in addition to the value of the lives saved, the savings from unnecessary kidney dialysis is about $70,000 per person per year. (See also this article from The Economist.)
Some argue that only the rich would get organs and only the poor would die giving them up. Existing black markets and medical tourism already reinforce any such tendency by keeping prices high. Would a free market in organs mean that the relatively poor would supply the relatively rich? Perhaps. More generally, would abuses occur? Yes, they would, just as they do in other aspects of organ transplantation—such as in shabby hospitals or lousy medical care. Nobody suggests banning hospitals or doctors because some hospitals and some doctors occasionally screw up. The cure lies largely in greater competition, the prerequisite of which is making organ sales legal.
Some are put off by the very idea of a market in kidneys, and many who aren’t might have some reservations about extending the list to other parts of our bodies. Some of this can be attributed to a socio-ethical resistance to “commoditizing the human body.” Perhaps this is a valid concern. Interestingly, there is a legal market for cadavers, so it seems to be OK to pay for bodies but not for organs.
What about other organs or body parts? The thing about kidneys—or eyes, ears, hands, and feet—is that removing them from our bodies does not entail death or, in the case of kidneys, any significant decline in the quality of life to the donor. But what about selling something vital such as a heart, which would spell certain death? That’s a difficult question that we may not have to settle just yet. Let’s start with kidneys.
The Moral Alternative
I confess to being uncomfortable with the thought of selling off body parts. In the same way, I would never recommend to anyone, including myself, taking cocaine for fun. But I would stop short of banning cocaine, and my qualms about selling body parts doesn’t keep me from staunchly supporting legalization, especially when a strong case can be made (as in this video by Professor James Stacey Taylor) that banning it would itself be immoral. Selling body parts for money should be no more illegal than letting people make a living fishing for crabs on the high seas or give up their lives for a cause they believe in. I may disapprove of a practice that harms the practitioner, but that by itself doesn’t give me the right to stop it, especially if it harms no one else.
Finally, today it’s considered perfectly legal and moral to allow husband A to give up his kidney to his wife B without compensation. Or, if A’s kidney is not a match for B, it’s okay for A to donate to C, whose husband D could then donate to B. That is like trading a goat to Jack to get a pile of bricks to trade to Jill for a sack of grain, which is what you wanted for your goat in the first place. While the Internet and creative websites have made organ bartering of this kind easier than in the past, humans long ago developed another institution that gets the job done much more easily: buying and selling for money.
Crimalizing activities—whether drugs, prostitution, or organ sales—typically generates consequences that are usually unintended but, with the aid of some basic economic knowledge, mostly predictable. After decades and over a trillion dollars spent and countless lives ruined, a summit of Latin-American politicians earlier this year declared that “the war on drugs has failed,” a sentiment echoed around the world.
It’s time that our government ended the war on kidneys, too.
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)
Posted by JR at 1:41 AM