Friday, August 10, 2012

The blowhard speaks

Fails to push the one thing that would work: Ban gun-free zones

SPEAKING just miles from the scene of the Colorado movie theatre shooting, President Barack Obama said Americans needed "to put an end" to "senseless" violence that killed 12 in Aurora and six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin, although he offered no specific solutions.

"I think we can all acknowledge we've got to put an end to this kind of senseless violence," Obama told a campaign rally in Denver on Wednesday.

"Whether in Aurora, whether it's in Oak Creek, whether it's in Tucson, whether it's in cities all across America where too many lives are cut short because of senseless violence - this is going to have to stop," he said. "And as an American family, as one American family, we're going to have to come together and look at all the approaches that we can take to try to bring an end to it."

Since the back-to-back shootings, Obama has called for soul searching on the issue of violence, but made no forceful push for new laws. White House aides have noted that the president supports reinstating a ban on the sale of assault weapons but sees no sign that Congress is moving toward action.



“We Now Have Our Smallest Government in 45 Years”

Now Leftists are trying to define away the truth

That’s the absurd title to a blog post over at The Atlantic today. The writer claims that the U.S. government is now the smallest it’s been since LBJ was president. The article is making the rounds among leftists, who, against all reason and common sense, have managed to convince themselves that the US government is getting smaller.

The claim is based on a calculation of total government employment as a ratio of the total US population. Right off the bat we know that comparing these ratios from 1968 and today will be off. This is largely because in 1968, most people whose salaries were funded by taxpayer sweat actually worked for the government. There weren’t mercenaries shooting up foreigners back then, or an enormous government-funded non-profit sector or legions of “consultants” who are really just government employees making extra-large salaries.

On top of this is the fact that government size is not only measured in the number of government employees. Better measures would include the US prison population, or taxes paid, or pages of government regulations or the number of federal laws, or the number of people groped by TSA pedophiles. Needless to say, all of these things have exploded in recent decades. On top of that, you have the war on drugs, the war on terror, the war on salt, fat, guns, raw milk, and a number of other things.

Yep, government sure is a shadow of its former self!

But, to make it simple, let’s just look at government spending. In 1968, the US government spent $883 dollars for every one of the 201 million Americans, or annual outlays totaling 178.1 billion. In 2011, the US government spent a whopping $11,493 for every one of the 313 million Americans for total outlays of 3.6 trillion. That’s an increase of 1,923 percent since 1968. The CPI over this period increased 545 percent, so we’re talking an enormous increase, even when adjusted for the official inflation rate.

We can also look at this another way. The amount of money taken from each American has increased almost 2,000 percent since 1968, which is more than triple the inflation rate.



The Rich Don’t Make Us Poor

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the need for the wealthy to “pay their fair share” so that the federal government can pay down its debts and continue to fund programs to provide basic human necessities for the poor, such as food, shelter, and prophylactics. Their argument is that the greedy rich have been stealing increasingly large percentages of the nation’s GDP, and have been hoarding their riches, rather than generously giving them to the federal government to be used for the common good. The only solution is to increase taxes on the rich, so that instead of letting billionaires covetously hold onto (and thus waste) their excess wealth, which they don’t really need, the government can take that cash and use it much more effectively, to give the rest of us free stuff. After all, it just isn’t fair that some Americans control billions of dollars’ worth of wealth, while others struggle to make ends meet.

Sounds plausible, right? Of course it does. Unfortunately for those who make a living out of inciting class warfare, it’s not true. There are a number of errors embedded in the above explanation of our nation’s woes, but let’s cut to the central one: the fallacy that there always has been and always will be a fixed amount of wealth in the world, and that wealth is merely shifted back and forth among people, but it is never really increased. Economists call this the “fixed pie” fallacy.

This is not a new fallacy. In fact, it’s been around for almost as long as economics has been a science. Let’s look at one relatively recent example: in his 1912 work The Servile State, English historian Hilaire Belloc presents his case against capitalism, arguing that by its very nature it is immoral. Belloc – who was not an economist – has become especially popular among some Catholics who decry capitalism as being antagonistic to Christian social and political virtues, and who pine for the idyllic days of subsistence farming and feudal lords. For many of these people, The Servile State is their only exposure to economic thought. This is a shame, because Belloc is a prime example of someone who fell for the fixed pie fallacy.

Belloc defines capitalism as a “society in which private property in land and capital, that is, the ownership and therefore the control of the means of production, is confined to some number of free citizens not large enough to determine the social mass of the state, while the rest have not such property and are therefore proletarian.” The definition Belloc offers is a sign of a deeper mistake on his part: the belief that economics is a stagnant business. His definition of capitalism paints a picture of the wealthy few hiding their money in mattresses, while the rest of us languish with no hope of ever acquiring wealth or living well.

I suppose there could be instances of that happening, but they certainly won’t continue for any sustained period of time. Think about it – if the wealthy hoard their money and don’t do anything with it, how do they support themselves? You don’t live well by having money; you live well by using money. In order to use it, you have to give it to someone else in exchange for goods or services that they give to you. Entrepreneurs get wealthy by using their resources to provide others with jobs. This increases their own well-being, as well as the lives of those they hire; both employer and employee benefit by being part of a useful business from which they can make a living. So the idea that the wealthy are able both to hoard their money and to live well, even affluently, is absurd.

Historical reality bears out the fact that in capitalism, people become rich by putting what capital they have to good, productive use, and that anyone, no matter how poor they start out, can become wealthy. Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, which leftists love to hate, and other venture capital groups risk their own money to provide small entrepreneurs with the means of jump-starting their companies, providing jobs both for those working in venture capital firms, and those employed by entrepreneurs.

Many famous entrepreneurs, such as Henry Ford, Sam Walton and James Cash Penney became fabulously wealthy not by hiding their money in a mattress, inheriting it, or cheating on their taxes, but by delaying gratification, providing workers with decent paying jobs, and putting in long hours for years, to build and maintain successful companies that serve their employees and their customers well. The historical reality of entrepreneurs gives the lie to two of Belloc’s assumptions: that the wealthy can maintain luxurious living standards by sitting on their wealth, and that capitalism prevents the poor from working their way up the economic ladder.

Sadly, it seems that many Americans, including the Occupy crowd and even our own President, are not aware of the unique and amazing power of entrepreneurship: the ability to use our resources and God-given talent to better the lives of those we work with and those we serve. Only when we as a nation remember that the phenomenon of money can be used in a dynamic way to participate as co-creators with God, will we begin to work our way out of the economic mess we are in.



The Chicago Way Works

By Victor Davis Hanson

If I were Romney, I would not count on the idea of class warfare, the so-called politics of personal destruction, and McCarthyite tactics not working, because they always have for Obama/Axelrod in the past — and seem to be in the last week.

In the last ten days Mitt Romney has been reduced by various Obama surrogates, through rumor, innuendo, and falsity, to a tax-avoiding cheat who “probably” never paid taxes for a decade, a near felon who lied on a federal form, and a veritable killer who in piratical fashion destroyed a cancer victim’s chance of getting medical attention — all untrue and yet all damaging, as the corrections are not even out before Obama goes on to the next new inaccurate charge. Obama is running a Robin Hood, class-warfare blitzkrieg, even though he knows that the upper income levels have never paid a higher share of the nation’s aggregate income-tax revenue, and bumping them up to 39 percent would only lower the deficit in minuscule ways, given the gargantuan spending since 2009 and the general absence of new revenue when unemployment is in its 41st consecutive month of more than 8 percent and we are now in our fourth $1 trillion-plus budget deficit.

None of this is new. The media favorite Obama eliminated all his Democratic rivals in his first election for the Illinois legislature by suing in court to invalidate their nomination petitions and ran unopposed in the primary. Obama demolished his U.S. Senate Democratic primary rival through leaked divorce records. He demolished his initial Republican rival through leaked divorce records. When he got through with Hillary Clinton, the liberal former first lady and U.S. senator had transmogrified into a prevaricating hack and veritable racist, as Bill Clinton lamented the race card being played. John McCain released his health records and his general dismal ranking at Annapolis, leading to a false narrative that he was naturally inattentive and reckless, and scarcely hale, while Obama released neither his medical nor his college records; as Sarah Palin — heretofore a reformist governor of Alaska who in bipartisan fashion had fought special interests — was reduced to a caricature of an uninformed poor (and trashy) mom. All of the above transpired while Barack Obama ran as a “reformer” and proponent of “civility,” who vowed to run a “transparent” campaign of full disclosure, and to leave the old “petty” and “gotcha” politics behind.



The Natural Map of the Middle East

Pat Buchanan

"Apart from political maps of mankind, there are natural maps of mankind. ... One of the first laws of political stability is to draw your political boundaries along the lines of the natural map of mankind." So wrote H.G. Wells in "What Is Coming: A Forecast of Things to Come After the War" in the year of Verdun and the Somme Offensive.

In redrawing the map of Europe, however, the statesmen of Versailles ignored Wells and parceled out Austrians, Hungarians, Germans and other nationalities to alien lands to divide, punish and weaken the defeated peoples.

So doing they set the table for a second world war.

The Middle East was sliced up along lines set down in the secret Sykes-Picot agreement. But with the Islamic awakening and Arab Spring toppling regimes, the natural map of the Middle East seems now to be asserting itself.

Sunni and Shia align with Sunni and Shia, as Protestants and Catholics did in 17th-century Europe. Ethiopia and Sudan split. Mali and Nigeria may be next. While world attention is focused on Aleppo and when Bashar Assad might fall, Syria itself may be about to disintegrate p.

In Syria's northeast, a Kurdish minority of 2 to 3 million with ethnic ties to Iraqi Kurdistan and 15 million Kurds in Turkey seems to be dissolving its ties to Damascus. A Kurdish nation carved out of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran would appear to be a casus belli for all four nations. Yet in any natural map of the world, there would be a Kurdistan.

The Sunni four-fifths of the Syrian population seems fated to rise and the Muslim Brotherhood to rule, as happened in Egypt. The fall of Assad and his Shia Alawite minority would be celebrated by the Sunni across the border in Iraq's Anbar province, who would then have a powerful new ally in any campaign to recapture Sunni lands lost to Iraqi Shia.

With its recent murderous attacks inside Iraq, al-Qaida seems to be instigating a new Sunni-Shia war to tear Iraq apart.

The fall of the Alawites in Damascus would end the dream of a Shia crescent -- Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hezbollah -- leave Hezbollah isolated, and conceivably lead to a renewal of Lebanon's sectarian and civil war.

The losers in all this? Certainly Iran, which seems fated to lose its only Arab ally, Syria, and its land link to Hezbollah.



An Extraordinary Record of Failure

Comment below by Dick McDonald

That is what Romney called our latest jobs report “An extraordinary record of failure” but the leftists at the New York Times buried his comment deep in the article below preferring to advance their liberal propaganda by hiding their own and Obama’s leftist policy failures by making the headline “Hiring picks up in July.” In turn the leftist media will assure Americans of that deception by peddling that sound bite while failing to mention that the underemployed and those who have given up looking rose to 15%.

The NYT even buried the followig comment in the last line of the article - “Nearly the entire reduction in unemployment since October 2009 has been accomplished through a significant drop in the percentage of adults participating in the labor force,” said Peter Morici, a professor in the business school at the University of Maryland – proof of an extraordinary record of failure.

But the so-called “Paper of Record” remains the main cheerleader of lies that Obama needs every morning to fool the uninvolved that his Sunday Morning Revival populism isn’t working and his demand-side Keynesian economics is a massive failure.

Yet the paper spits out the nonsense that what we need is more government stimulus such as spending taxpayer’s money on infrastructure and hiring more teachers. That didn’t work before but as Einstein said only a liar like the NYT would repeat insanity.

They admit the Federal Reserve has shot its wad but assure their leftist sympathizers that the Fed will come to the economy’s rescue. Of course this is more liberal smokescreen. You can read more of that below.
Hiring Picks Up in July, but Data Gives No Clear Signal

America added more jobs than expected last month, offering a pleasant surprise after many months of disappointing economic news. Even so, hiring was not strong enough to shrink the army of the unemployed in the slightest.

Employers added 163,000 jobs in July, the Labor Department reported on Friday. That was more than twice the job growth in the previous month, and substantially more than Wall Street analysts had forecast. The underlying details of the report, however, ranged from unimpressive to outright discouraging and provided plenty of fodder for Republican attacks on President Obama’s economic legacy.

The Obama administration, for its part, argued that Republican obstructionism to its economic policies was holding back the recovery.

July’s jobless rate ticked up slightly to 8.3 percent, about the same as it has been all year. A broader measure of unemployment — including part-time workers who want full-time jobs, and people who have given up looking for work — rose to 15 percent.



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)


Thursday, August 09, 2012

Typical Leftist deception

The truth is poisonous to them



No Mystery to Slow Growth: Progressives Are the Problem

The Big Picture Lesson of the 20th century was that capitalism works and socialism and communism don't. The rest of the world learned that lesson far better because they and their close neighbors suffered far more with the socialist and communist progeny of Saul Alinsky's first radical. But America should know better because it has enjoyed most the workers paradise of capitalism.

Yet those who call themselves Progressive, a polite, Americanized word for Marxist, refuse to accept that obvious conclusion. That is why our politics have become so nasty. The Progressives know they can't win a debate based on reason. So they turn to name calling, demonization, ostracism, anything to distract from and avoid a reasoned debate. Hence the widespread use of the term "dumbass" by pot smoking hippie Progressives in commenting on the reasoning of careful scholars that they disagree with, or the ubiquitous allegations that anyone who disagrees with them is lying, or bought off.

This reflects the despotic nature of the Progressive personality and philosophy. Progressives most fundamentally are certain that they are so much smarter than the rest of us, and that they are so much more moral than the rest of us. Because of that they are certain that they have the right to rule over the rest of us. It's a very anti-social attitude that the rest of us should not be expected to have to live with.

That is why they are not interested in reason. They are interested in power, for themselves, over the rest of us. In their view, they have the unquestionable right to rule, and the rest of us have the unquestionable duty to obey. The last time America was authoritatively subject to that attitude was under the reign of King George III. And, of course, you know what happened then (unless you are in public school).

That is why the Progressives are so fundamentally in rebellion against the U.S. Constitution. That governing framework was designed to preserve the rights and liberties of the people, and to restrain the powers of government and of self-appointed, supposedly benevolent despots. But if you are so sure you are so much smarter and more moral than everyone else, then the Constitution is an outdated, 18th century barrier to your imposition of your notion of the perfect society on everyone else. That is why for over 100 years now, so-called Progressivism has been an open conspiracy against the Constitution, and so at its root treason.

All of the supposed fevered passions of the Progressives are really just props to justify more control over more money and power for them. The Progressives claim they will take care of the poor, if only we will give control over the money and power to the Progressives. They are not really interested in economic growth and prosperity, which is the only real solution to poverty. That does not expand their power and control over the rest of us. They are interested in promoting dependency, which builds their political machine, and their power.

That dependency perpetuates rather than solves poverty is not a problem for the so-called Progressives. They are perfectly happy with that vote buying, long term, status quo, even if that is really no damn good for the poor. See, e.g, Medicaid, under which the poor suffer and die, because the government won't pay the doctors and hospitals enough to serve them.

Similarly, Progressives believe in Keynesian economics not because it works to promote economic recovery and growth. Borrowing a trillion dollars out of the private economy for the government to spend a trillion dollars back into it does nothing to promote economic recovery and growth on net. Obamanomics just proved that again.

Moreover, in a market economy there can be no such thing as inadequate demand, the central concern of Keynesian economics. That is because in a market, if demand is inadequate to sell the supply, prices just fall until supply equals demand.

But that logic and experience has no effect on Progressive devotion to Keynesian economics. That is because the real reason they are in favor of Keynesianism's proven nonsense is not really because they think it works, but because it justifies what they want, which is more government spending, deficits, and debt, as that means more power and control for government and the all wise Progressives guiding us to their promised land.

The same can be said about the hoax of global warming, a greater scandal of science in the end than Lysenkoism. Carbon dioxide is a trace gas natural to the environment and essential to all life on the planet. There is no sound science demonstrating that it controls the climate, much less that the return closer to historic levels of CO2 in the atmosphere threatens catastrophic global warming. See the thorough scientific explanation that the pattern of global temperatures throughout the 20th century to today is dominantly controlled by natural causes definitively demonstrated in the more than 1,000 pages of the Heartland Institute's Climate Change Reconsidered, published in 2010, and the succeeding Interim Report, published in 2011. This is why advocates of catastrophic, anthropogenic, global warming effectively admit that they cannot defend their claims in public debate.

But science has nothing to do with the belief of Progressives in the theory of man caused, catastrophic, global warming. Progressives worship it because again it means more power and control for governments the world over, from local governments, to national governments, to ultimately world government, which again means more power and control for Progressives to rule us in accordance with their benighted vision of the perfect world.

The greatest Progressive passion of all is supposed to be equality. That is not the classic liberal concept of equality under the law, or equal rules for everyone, which protects and maximizes individual liberty. It is the totalitarian concept of equality of results, which requires the abnegation of personal liberty to enforce.

A regime of equal incomes and equal wealth for all leads not only the more productive to flee the regime, but anyone who does not want to live in an economically stagnant, poor society. That is the result because under a regime of equal incomes and wealth for all, there are no grounds for any capital investment at all, the foundation of economic growth and prosperity. That is because capital investment and wealth increases the income and wealth of the investor, and so would have to be confiscated to enforce equal incomes and wealth, leaving no basis for anyone to pursue any such capital investment.

Moreover, under such a regime, there are no grounds for any work either. That is because if you work more than average, the extra income that would result would have to be confiscated as well. But if you work less than average, the government would pay you out of what is confiscated from the more productive to restore your income to the average. Consequently, there is no reason for anyone to work at all, because all would be paid the same as anyone else in any event.

This is where the Berlin Wall came from. But so-called, progressive, social justice equality requires even more egregious transgressions in personal and individual liberty. It would require reversing all the voluntary transactions in a free society that result in unequal incomes and wealth.

These are the reasons why social justice equality is the ultimate for supposed Progressives. It requires the reversal of all the preferences and choices of the common man, in favor of the vision of the all wise Progressives.

This all adds up to the conclusion logically that Progressivism is not just wrong, but evil, as it involves the assertion of despotism over the liberties of common men and women, and abnegation of their personal prosperity, as it has all over the world wherever Progressivism has been taken to its logical conclusion.

This is why as long as free elections are maintained, common men and women will always throw off the yoke of Progressivism. But this time, once the people are truly liberated, those who are certain that they are smarter and more moral than the rest of us must be empowered to exercise that superiority to the fullest, among themselves, through some form of separation from the rest of us.

But will free elections be maintained? Or how far down will America fall?



The Week in Liberal Stupid

Every attempt to find the dumbest thing in liberal world this week just led to another, and another, each dumber than the last. Picking just one to rant about became a task of epic proportions, so two of them it is. In no particular order…

A Chicken

The name Adam Smith has a storied history, particularly in economics. Now, that name has a smudge on it thanks to Adam Smith of Arizona. This Mr. Smith became infamous on Wednesday for his uncontrollable hatred for anyone who might disagree with him on the issue of gay marriage. That’s fine. Far be it from me to attempt to deny him that which he seeks to deny others – the right to their opinion. But, in this reality TV/YouTube age where nothing is worth unless the world sees it, Smith decided everyone on Earth needed to see just how enlightened he is, so he filmed his “activism.”

What he thought would be seen as a triumphant moment for progressives ended up being what it was – a middle-aged man misdirecting his irrational anger over a difference of opinion towards a teenager simply trying to make a buck at her local fast-food restaurant. Anyone watching it could see how disgraceful it was…except Adam Smith, who had to have watched it before he uploaded it to the Web.

Within a day, the controversy had blown up. Smith got what he was seemingly after, to be famous. But he got something else … something he clearly was unprepared for.

Smith was fired from his job the next day and, shell-shocked, issued a video apology to the girl he attacked for daring to work for a corporation run by a man whose thoughts differed from his.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Smith, he did lose his job. But he did it to himself. I got the same feeling when I saw former NFL quarterback Gus Frerotte celebrate a touchdown by headbutting a wall and giving himself a concussion. You just look at it and think, “What the hell did you expect? A parade?”

There are no “middle-aged men being mean to teenage girls” trading cards, so it’s not really a skill he could have marketed. Which is too bad because he could use a job about now.

On the bigger issue of being mad at a company over the opinions of the guy at the top, I say this: Get a life! If you need validation of your sexual orientation, or anything about yourself, from a fast-food restaurant, there isn’t enough therapy in the world to help you. That being said, if Best Buy ever comes out against white socks with black low-top Converse Chuck Taylor’s I’m going to lose it on the Geek Squad!

Another Chicken

In politics, as in life, you can tell a lot about people by who they choose to lead them. For example, Republicans in the Senate chose Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. He’s a perfectly fine human being, but not the most conservative nor the most charismatic, by any measure. So, you get what you get with someone like that – he’s good most of the time, particularly when he’s going to lose a vote anyway, but he’s quick to cut the legs out from under people in his own party when it suits his needs (see the debt ceiling debate a few years ago).

Then you have the Democrats.

For their leader, they chose Nevada’s Harry Reid. Reid is a member of the old school Congress – someone who came to Washington with relatively modest means and somehow, through curious “land deals” with shady characters, managed to become a multi-multi-millionaire while being a “public servant.” The “old school” I was referring to was the time of nearly open graft in the late 19th and early 20th century.

And it’s not just Reid’s malleable ethics on personal financial issues; his character leaves a lot to be desired. That Democrats would choose him for their leader says a lot about their character.

When I worked in the Senate, I had two senators tell me Sen. Reid was the most untrustworthy man they’d ever known. They told me this in private conversations, so I won’t say who they are. But both had been in Congress a long time, so this was saying something.

This week Reid says he received a phone call from a “credible source,” who claims knowledge of Mitt Romney’s taxes from his days at Bain Capital and claims Romney paid zero taxes for the better part of a decade. By the time Reid told the Huffington Post about this, he had “a number of sources” claiming Romney paid no taxes. But he wouldn’t elaborate.

Not content with the ink and airtime his first round of BS got, Reid took to the Senate floor to claim “the word is out” that Romney hasn’t paid any taxes. So a single source had become “a number of sources” in one day. A day later, the “number of sources” became “the word is out,” as in everybody knows. The “word” came “out” from him. But did the media ever ask about this? Did the media ever let journalism get in the way of good rumor-mongering when it comes to attacking Republicans? Of course not.

Given the studies recently that show the connection between head trauma and long-term effects on brain function, perhaps Sen. Reid’s days as a boxer are catching up to him. Or maybe he’s just a pederast.

You may be asking yourself, “What?!?!?” Well, I’ve heard some rumors Harry Reid is a pederast. These are made-up rumors on Twitter, clearly presented as such … but I heard them. I can’t tell you where I first heard this rumor because I don’t remember. There were a lot of people spreading it, though. Sen. Reid refuses to address the rumor.

More curiously, Romney has come out and said Reid’s accusations against him are BS. But Reid has yet to comment on whether he’s a pederast.

Again, I have no proof Senator Harry Reid has a strange sexual attraction to young boys or whether he’s acted on his perversion, I’m just relaying what I’ve heard. Sen. Reid said, in the great liberal tradition of Republicans being guilty until proven innocent, it’s up to Romney to prove he paid taxes (even though the IRS seems strangely satisfied that he has). Under that thinking, it’s up to Sen. Reid to prove he isn’t a serial pederast.

Bonus Stupid

Dave Sirota is a writer who (apparently) has written a couple of books about something progressive or other. He is the kind of guy who wakes up every day and randomly calls someone in the third-world to apologize for being an American. Well Dave, the rest of us feel the same way…about you.

The title of his piece (of …) on Salon, “Don’t chant U.S.A.! It’s liberal Americans’ Olympic dilemma: How do they root for their countrymen without being jingoistic?” tells you everything you need to know about Sirota … except that he doesn’t have a long gray ponytail (at least not now). There’s more stupid in this piece than I have the energy to convey. It perfectly encapsulates the liberal mindset. Imagine Brittney Spears pontificating on the meaning of life, square it, and you’re getting in the zip code.

He’s proof of what I call “Michael Stipe’s Disease.” Named after the lead singer of band REM, Stipe always seemed just miserable. Not because of anything going on in his life, but because someone, somewhere was suffering. It’s a tragic disease that afflicts liberals, causing them to sit around coffee houses with their laptops and Charles Bukowski books and judge anyone who smiles or laughs. They often can be overheard saying things like, “I don’t know how you can sit there laughing when people are being killed/going hungry/suffering in whatever the liberal cause celebre country of the moment is. They’re also the people who talk constantly about how race doesn’t matter, that we need to move beyond it, but manage to keep a mental spreadsheet of the ancestry of everyone they’ve met and mention what kind of hyphenated-American they are in every story they tell. In short – jerks.

Tragic…and couldn’t happen to nicer people.




Egypt: Regime vows crackdown on “infidels” after border massacre: "Egypt branded Islamist gunmen who killed 16 police near the Israeli border as "infidels" and promised on Monday to launch a crackdown following the massacre that has strained Cairo's ties with both Israel and Palestinians. An Egyptian official said insurgents crossed into Egypt from the Gaza Strip before attacking the border station on Sunday. They then stole two vehicles and headed to nearby Israel, where they were eventually killed by Israeli fire."

Communist Vietnam donates 5,000 tons of rice to flood-stricken North Korea: "Vietnam's president said his country would donate 5,000 tons of rice to flood-stricken North Korea, Vietnamese state media reported Tuesday. The pledge was made by President Truong Tan Sang in a meeting with North Korea's visiting nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam in Hanoi on Monday, the Communist Party newspaper Nhan Dan reported." [Vietnam has a largely capitalist economic system]

TN: Gibson Guitar CEO strikes back: "Late in the same day that Department of Justice announced they had reached a settlement with Gibson Guitars, in which Gibson acknowledged illegally importing environmentally endangered woods, CEO Henry Juszkiewicz struck a defiant tone as he continued to criticize government actions. 'We felt compelled to settle as the costs of proving our case at trial would have cost millions of dollars and taken a very long time to resolve,' he said in statement released via the company’s @gibsonguitar Twitter account late Monday."


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Examining the opposition case

Elections are not a time for considered economic analysis, but then few times are. Opponents of the free market are able to point out obvious flaws in recent economic trends, but are met with mere cheerleading by free-marketers. The appearance of an Obamaist policy document “Prosperity for All” written by Yale professor Jacob Hacker and Nathaniel Loewentheil is thus a useful opportunity to check out the opposition thinking, spot its flaws and ideological blind spots, but more important, determine where it indeed makes good points, and what the answer to them should be.

Perhaps the most powerful current argument against the relatively free market policies of 1980-2006 is that of recent U.S. trends in inequality. In economic principle, there should be no great preference for one income distribution over another, but in practice observation has found that both extremes are bad. Very flat distributions of income and wealth, especially if caused by government fiat, destroy wealth creation and suppress economic growth (and give too much power to government bureaucrats – more on that later.) Equally however very skewed distributions of income and wealth, if accompanied by democracy, produce economic stagnation at the bottom and therefore appallingly bad governments since the poor majority sees no way out of its impoverishment and votes for nut-job populists.

The main problem with the increase in inequality since 1973 (as it has not taken the U.S. particularly far out into the Latin American part of the curve) is the stagnation of income for the working class, in spite of 40 years of technological progress and productivity increase. In this diagnosis, “Prosperity for All” is correct; its explanation of why it happened and its suggested cures are however mostly misguided.

There are other areas of agreement. “Prosperity for All” decries the bad behavior on Wall Street and the “crony capitalism” of government handouts to favored industries. We can all agree on that, although when it comes to solutions the document proposes several that are equally crony capitalist. It proposes that Wall Street houses should be split between commercial banking and trading operations – again we can agree; it’s not a free-market solution, but with deposit insurance and an over-powerful Fed it may be the least bad second-best approach. It wants a Tobin tax on trading to reduce its profitability – again I agree, though I want a much smaller one that attacks primarily automated “fast trading” which essentially uses insider information on market activity.

“Prosperity for All” decries the lack of investment in infrastructure. Here I agree to an extent, but the problem is nothing to do with the free market; most infrastructure is provided by governments, which have incentives to build flashy new ziggurats like California’s high speed train and neglect maintenance. More seriously, infrastructure costs have been grotesquely inflated by union featherbedding, environmentalist nonsense and excessive regulation. The Holland Tunnel under the Hudson River, completed in 1927, cost $48 million, equivalent to $700 million today. New Jersey Governor Christie’s zapping last year of a duplicate tunnel, expected to cost $8.7 billion, indicates just how out of control infrastructure costs have become.

Finally, “Prosperity for All” decries the insecurity of the current economy, especially for those without great resources. Social security and Medicare programs are both endangered, and likely to cover fewer of the old-age costs of those now approaching retirement, especially with the rapid escalation in medical costs. The collapse in house prices has removed what many people saw as a net worth cushion that could be tapped in time of difficulty. College costs have soared, and the employability of college graduates has increasingly come into question. Here the effect of prolonged recession has merged with relentless cost escalation in education and medicine, the actuarial problem of baby boomer retirement and the effects of excessive leverage to produce a toxic increase in insecurity beyond that inevitable in a free economy.

Having given “Prosperity for All” credit for its successful diagnoses of many of our current ills, it is nevertheless impossible to be so complimentary about its proposed treatments. Its most egregious error is a refusal to accept that governments, unions and NGOs have incentives too, just like corporations. Consequently, however easy it may be for an optimal analyst in a comfortable armchair to propose government-directed solutions to economic problems, governments are no more likely to behave in a “socially optimal” way than are corporations.

This is the central fallacy of Keynesianism. Keynes himself was so convinced of the quality of his analysis that he negotiated an overvalued fixed exchange rate for post-war Britain that killed stone dead the surge of automobile exports planned by the brilliant William Morris, Lord Nuffield. Morris, who left school at 15 to work in a bicycle repair shop but was Britain’s most successful industrialist, was not someone Keynes was accustomed to consulting about the economy’s needs. The Keynesian Bureaucrat Fallacy, that bureaucrats of immense intelligence and complete incorruptibility can arrange the workings of the economy, is probably the most damaging economic belief of all time, even worse than Marxism.

Apart from its inability to invest efficiently, the most important failing of incentive-ridden government is in regulation. Agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Product Safety Commission exist simply to propagate and enforce regulations, and the more regulations they propagate and enforce, the more benefits in terms of remuneration, power and staff their senior officials obtain. Accordingly, we get nonsenses like the EPA regulation of carbon emissions, which may well shut down much of the U.S. power sector, thereby causing economic damage far beyond that sector.

Regulatory government is essentially irrational, and in practice pays little or no attention to the cost of the regulations it enforces – for example, a recent regulation banning “buckyball” products on the grounds children might swallow them, which bids fair to put a $50 million company out of business. As I have written previously in this column, it seems likely that the EPA’s advent was responsible for much of the decline in U.S. productivity growth after 1973, and that the current lethargy in the U.S. economy is at least partly due to the tsunami of new and expensive regulations under President Obama.

The cost of government favoritism is probably less than the cost of regulation, simply because the latter costs are so easy to hide. Nevertheless the entire clean energy program, based as it has been on science which increasingly looks chimerical, has been a bonanza of opportunity for the world’s least scrupulous businessmen. Not that “global warming” should be held entirely to blame; the corn-based ethanol boondoggle, pointless environmentally even if global warming were a problem, is a simple outgrowth of U.S. agriculture subsidies dating back to the 1930s. Needless to say, such programs almost never disappear, because the lobbies depending on them become so powerful; they only multiply.

A further fallacy perpetrated by “Prosperity for All” is the beneficial nature of unions and non-governmental organizations. Such entities, like governments, operate according to their own incentives dictating growth and the search for power. The best conditions for skilled and unskilled workers exist and have always existed in the most prosperous and fastest growing industries. Henry Ford’s $5 day, for example, the greatest single leap forward in unskilled-worker welfare of the twentieth century, was instituted in his entirely non-unionized plant in 1914, after the incredible success of the Model T. Automobile unionization happened only twenty years later, during the Great Depression and in the long run resulted in the U.S. automobile industry becoming hopelessly vulnerable to foreign competition. As for NGOs, their goals are political and their proliferation is entirely the result of the indefensible tax benefits given the “charitable” organizations. Remove those benefits, and NGOs would mostly wither away, leaving national prosperity very much greater for their absence.

Finally, “Prosperity for All” demands immediate legalization of the 10-12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. Far from improving living standards, this would produce a further flood of unskilled undocumented immigrants, as did the 1986 amnesty. The result would be profits for Big Agribusiness but further immiseration of the less skilled half of the U.S. population. An economically successful society needs to be governed by the rule of law, and to ensure that its less productive citizens are able to get adequately paying employment without being subjected to wage-destroying competition from a flood of outsiders.

Since the problems identified by “Prosperity for All” are mostly genuine, and the solutions mostly chimerical, it behooves us to propose solutions that might actually work. Far from chivvying the Fed to satisfy its “full employment” mandate under the 1978 Humphrey-Hawkins Act, we need to reduce its remit to the single mandate of preventing inflation, and pass further rules so that its operations become “Volckerized” ensuring that henceforth it keeps interest rates high. With high interest rates, capital formation will be encouraged, and the United States’ traditional capital advantage over emerging markets will thereby be rebuilt, allowing its living standards and employment to remain at a satisfactorily high level because of its high ratio of capital to labor.

Tax reform is another essential. The current loopholes for home mortgage interest, state and local taxes, healthcare premiums and above all charitable contributions need to be removed, and the system pushed as far as possible towards taxing consumption rather than production. That way, the U.S. economy’s excessive dependence on mindless consumer spending will be removed, and it will become a high capital formation powerhouse like Germany and the best economies of Asia.

Markets in education and medicine must be reformed, by removing government subsidies and excessive regulation. That will make the reform of Medicare and Social Security very much easier, so that a Paul Ryan-style plan of limited targeted subsidy to those in need can be implemented, while costs are brought back under actuarial control. In these areas, foreign examples such as those of Germany and Japan are extremely useful, showing that quality can be improved and costs reduced without condemning America’s less fortunate citizens to sickness or illiteracy.

Finally, a bonfire of regulations must accompany a massacre of corporate welfare schemes. By these means, the economy will become more efficient and government costs will be greatly reduced, enabling proper provision to be made for the unfortunate while taxes are kept moderate, economic growth rebounds and full employment is restored in a natural unforced manner.

Looking at the detailed plans of political opponents is highly beneficial. Their diagnosis of society’s ills is often correct, and even if their solutions are misguided, one can at least ensure that one’s own plans address the ills they have identified. Nobody ever learned much through dialogue only with the like-minded.



Generation squeezed

After the destruction wreaked by Obama and the Democrats, America is undoubtedly in the grip of a Carter-esque "malaise". Reagan rescued America from Carter; Could Romney be a new Reagan? The instinct is to laugh out loud at the idea that a former governor of Massachusetts could be a new Reagan. But don't forget that Reagan was a former governor of California. So perhaps there is hope. Below is one expression of the malaise --JR

I worry about the future -- not mine but that of my three children, all in their 20s. It is an axiom of American folklore that every generation should live better than its predecessors. But this is not a constitutional right or even an entitlement, and I am skeptical that today's young will do so. Nor am I alone. A recent USA Today/Gallup poll finds that nearly 60 percent of Americans are also doubters. I meet many parents who fear the future that awaits their children.

The young (and I draw the line at 40 and under) face two threats to their living standards. The first is the adverse effect of the Great Recession on jobs and wages. Even if this fades with time, there's the second threat: the costs of an aging America. It's not just Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid -- huge transfers from the young to the old -- but also deferred maintenance on roads, bridges, water systems and power grids. Newsweek calls the young "generation screwed"; I prefer the milder "generation squeezed."

Already, batteries of indicators depict the Great Recession's damage. In a Pew survey last year, a quarter of 18-to-34-year-olds said they'd moved back with parents to save money. Getting a job has been time-consuming and often futile. In July, the unemployment rate among 18-to-29-year-olds was 12.7 percent. Counting people who dropped out of the labor market raises that to 16.7 percent, says Generation Opportunity, an advocacy group for the young. Among recent high-school graduates, unemployment rates are near half for African-Americans, a third for Hispanics and a quarter for whites, notes the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank.

The weak labor market hurts even job holders. From 2007 to 2011, "real" (inflation-adjusted) wages fell nearly 5 percent for recent college graduates and 10 percent for recent high-school graduates, says EPI. Among college grads, only four in 10 said their jobs required a four-year degree, reports a survey by the John J. Heldrich Center at Rutgers University. If the economy doesn't fully recover, slack labor demand will continue to depress employment and wages for years.

Of course, generalizations can be overdone. Countless millions of young people are doing -- and will do -- fine. History can't be predicted. The mass retirement of baby-boom workers may create job scarcities and raise wages. Still, some setbacks will endure. Some skills that would have been learned on the job won't ever be. Life decisions are deferred. Among 18-to-29-year olds, the weak economy is causing 18 percent to postpone marriage and 23 percent to delay starting a family, reports a survey by Generation Opportunity.

And then there are the costs of aging. Gains in productivity -- from new technologies or better skills -- that would normally flow into paychecks will be siphoned off to pay for retiree benefits, underfunded state and local government pensions and infrastructure repair. Taxes will rise; if not, public services will fall. Or both. Population change can't be repealed. The ratio of workers to retirees, 5-to-1 in 1960 and 3-to-1 in 2010, is projected at nearly 2-to-1 by 2025.

It's often said that today's young will ultimately benefit from this lopsided tax-and-transfer system. Old themselves, they will be similarly subsidized by their young. Doubtful. Sooner or later, the system's oppressive costs will become so obvious that future benefits will be curbed. Chances are the young will still pay for today's elderly without themselves receiving comparable support.

As a parent, all this rattles me. We judge our success by how well our children do. We love them and want them to succeed, even if most of us recognize -- at some point -- that our ability to influence and protect them has expired. Peering into the unfathomable future, we don't like what we think we see. We're dispatching them into a less secure and less prosperous world. These parental anxieties, I think, are the presidential campaign's great, unacknowledged issue. Many voters will decide based on a calculus of which candidate would minimize the economic perils for their grown children.

But the calculus will be selective. To aid the young, we could tighten Social Security and Medicare, raising eligibility ages and reducing payouts for wealthier retirees. Unlikely. Younger voters seem clueless about advancing their economic interests. In 2008, 18-to-29-year-olds supported Barack Obama by 34 percentage points. They love his pseudo-youthfulness. Or his positions on other issues (immigration, gay rights) trump economics. As president, Obama has done nothing to improve generational fairness.

If the young won't help themselves, their parents and grandparents might. They might champion revising retirement programs. Dream on. Parents and grandparents may be worried about their offspring's prospects, but they're not so worried as to sacrifice their own. There are real conflicts between the young and old; so far, the young are losing.




Obama gets something right: "President Obama echoed the sentiments of the essential founder of the American experiment in his response to Sunday’s horrific killings at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. 'As we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship,' said Obama, as the nation learned of a shooting spree by an alleged white supremacist at a place of worship in suburban Milwaukee, 'we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.' That notion of the Sikh community as 'part of our broad American family' is not a new one. Sikhs have been a part of the American religious fabric for the better part of two centuries."

Gibson Guitar hit with grossly excessive penalties over “illegal” wood: "Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corp. will pay a $300,000 fine and make a $50,000 community-service payment for conservation in response to federal allegations that the company used illegally obtained ebony wood in the manufacture of its products. The U.S. Justice Department issued the following news release about the settlement this morning: Gibson Guitar Corp. entered into a criminal enforcement agreement with the United States today resolving a criminal investigation into allegations that the company violated the Lacey Act by illegally purchasing and importing ebony wood from Madagascar and rosewood and ebony from India." [Obama's hatred of business on show]


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Built By Obama: What You See Is Not What You Get

The dark side of Obama's statement: collective achievement equals collective punishment

As Obama's "you didn't build that" quote is being probed and analyzed, I'd like to point out that the idea of redistributing other people's achievements is only a tip of an enormous ideological iceberg. Its invisible foundation sinks deep into the murky depths underneath the floating wreckage of American values.

Lest we take Obama's words out of context and are accused of "swift-quoting," let's review the full passage. Speaking at a campaign stop in Roanoke, Va., on July 13th, Barack Obama said:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. The point is, when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together."

A friend with a PhD in mathematics made this comment: "We scientists say that in order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first build the universe - and that takes about four billion years. But that doesn't mean we can't build anything new from existing resources. So telling a businessman 'you didn't build that' is pure sophistry. Such phrases have always been a preamble to looting. Coming from the President, it's chilling."

Now let's put on our intellectual scuba gear to explore what lies beneath Obama's superficial altruistic bragging, which until now has served him as an unsinkable platform.

Apart from the simple untruth that "government created the Internet," Obama's words boil down to the old collectivist bromide that the individual is nothing without the society and the state. As one would expect, Obama didn't come up with it on his own. Standing on the shoulders of his collectivist predecessors, he ineptly restated Mussolini's motto: "All individuals or groups are relative, only to be conceived in their relation to the State." And Benito's fellow collectivist Adolf Hitler agrees: "Our nation can achieve permanent health only from within on the basis of the principle: The common interest before self-interest."

If the businessman "didn't build that," who did? Apparently, all of us did! And if the credit is equally shared, so must be the reward. Jackpot winners all! No more worries about paying the mortgage or filling the gas tank. This must be what thrilled Obama's voters during the 2008 election, as his speeches removed old moral barriers protecting other people's property and made it available to all, establishing a new morality of forced redistribution of wealth, previously known as looting.

But here's the catch: everything in this world has a price. If all of us can be credited for someone else's achievement, by the same logic, all of us can be punished for someone else's failure. Just as all individual credit goes to the society as a whole, so does all the blame. And if the entire group, class, nation, or race can gain moral authority because some of its members did something right, the same standard grants the moral authority to blame any other group, class, nation, or race because some of its members did something wrong. In the history of collectivism this concept translated into wars, slavery, pogroms, terrorism, ethnic cleansing, expropriation of wealth, deportation, internment, resettlement, and genocide.

It appears that the two notions, collective achievement and collective punishment, are as inseparable as two sides of the same coin.

But there's more: if nothing is to your credit, then nothing is your fault. What is the cost of that bargain? In a seemingly fair trade-off, we lose our right to individual achievements but gain the right to blame others for our failures. Collectivism provides us with a sufficiently analgesic illusion of fairness. If you turn out to be a loser, it's not because you are unqualified: on a whim, with objective standards removed, you can now self-righteously put the blame on those close to you, or on the unfair system, or even on the big wide (and deeply flawed) world.

Before you know it, your moral impulses are reduced to an immature tantrum of a toddler who breaks things and hits a babysitter; a teenager who curses at his family and blames the Universe for his pimples; a graduating student of Marxism at the Occupy Wall Street encampment who vandalizes private property and blames capitalism for not providing him with a high-income job; an aging member of the "drug revolution" who blames The Man and The System for his depression; or the President of the United States whoblames corporations and bank CEOs, modern technology and "messy democracy," Fox News and all other media, the Japanese tsunami and the Arab Spring, as well as Bush, Reagan, Congress, the GOP, and the entire city of Washington for his lack of achievement.

Coincidentally, such is also the moral foundation of collectivist societies, from Cargo Cult followers to the so-called People's Democracies. In the erstwhile USSR, the government redistributed not only the nation's dwindling wealth; it redistributed successes and failures. All achievements were credited to the Party and its leaders, as well as to a centrally appointed regiment of "Heroes of Socialist Labor," who conspicuously "sacrificed for the common good." The failures were blamed on foreign aggressors, Western imperialism, enemies of the people, kulaks, saboteurs, corrupt bureaucracy, irresponsible middle management, selfish greed, and lack of proletariat consciousness, as well as on natural disasters and bad weather. Sound familiar?

Find the guilty and the opportunistic politicians will come. The problem is, they come not to help you but to help themselves. The latest example is the current grievance-mongering U.S. government - a massive self-serving army of patented demagogues who have yet to improve one life or right a single wrong. In the final analysis, collectivism is a dead end. Releasing the floodgates of government corruption is only Act One in the drama of a declining nation.

Now that we have gotten to the bottom of it, let's review Obama's quote from this new perspective:

"If you have failed, somebody along the line ruined it for you. There was a lousy teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unfair American system that caused you to fail. Somebody benefitted from your demise. If you're a loser, it's not your fault. Somebody else made that happen. Titanic didn't sink on its own. Corporations and insurance companies made a lot of money off of it, so they must be complicit. The point is, when we fail, we fail not only because of our individual shortcomings, but also because others have teamed up behind your backs. Vote for me - I'll punish the guilty and give you what's rightfully yours."

It turns out that, after all, "someone else made that happen" is merely a flipside of "blame someone else." One can't exist without the other.

In contrast, the argument for individualism and competitive private enterprise cannot be "flipped" - not without distorting its nature and moral purpose. The statement, "It's my achievement and I have the right to what I earn," manifests only positive, objectively true human values.

Unlike its alternatives, capitalism doesn't grow out of a dark, indiscernible mass of moral entanglements. And unlike crony capitalism - a corrupt monster created by government intrusion into the economy - free market capitalism is transparent. Just like the greatest invention of our time, the personal computer (brought to us by free enterprise), capitalism has a user-friendly interface: WHAT YOU SEE IS WHAT YOU GET.



Chik-fil-A-Quake: What the Media Didn't Say

If the media reports an earthquake was a breeze in the forest, did the earth still move? I’m not sure TownHall Finance is the natural venue for that question, but I’m also not sure why the Denver Post—my local paper—put a significant political and cultural event on page umpty-something, in the business section.

If you didn’t see it with your own eyes, you might have missed something big last week. Under fire by gay activists and their media amplifiers, Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy unapologetically confirmed he supports the biblical definition of family as he understands it. This modern heresy quickly went viral. Reaction was harsh. Big city mayors and councilors channeled Al Capone with a badge: “Don’t file no stinking permit applications in our town, Chick-fil-A!” Pundits nodded righteously. But, what happened next didn’t follow the script.

Backlash welled up, not just from social conservatives, but fiscal conservatives and libertarians, outraged that politicians would trample the First Amendment, brandishing political litmus tests for the right to do business. Social media and web commentary buzzed with rebellion. A great day of fried chicken and Chick-fil-A appreciation was proposed.

Last Wednesday, I met friends in north suburban Denver at about 11 to beat the rush. Fail. The lot was packed, the drive-thru and building tightly coiled by a boa of cars, tail extending to the street. Inside was standing room only, with a switch-back line that triggered post-Disney traumatic stress. Yet, amid the din, cheer was high. The besieged staff moved helpfully and efficiently, and the line shuffled like a smooth deck of cards.

The friendly mob cycled through, holding steady in size the hour I was there. Judging scientifically by anecdotal Facebook posts, it stayed that way all day and evening, at every Chick-fil-A around Denver, throughout the state, and across the nation. The outpouring was unforeseen, the magnitude unimaginable. The chain’s coffers got a short- and probably long-term boost.

After 20 years around politics, I’ve seen how activists can generate pretty good ink just from a press release and 50 people on the Capitol steps in front of a borrowed guitar amplifier. I also know how hard groups sometimes have to hustle to assemble their 50. So I was eager to see what the media would make of this human tide.

Thursday’s Denver Post business page answered: “Coloradans voice their opinions on Chick-fil-A; Outlets flooded by supporters and opponents.” Not even close. Without space to fully deconstruct, I’ll acknowledge the article did say the crowds were large and the protesters few. But the headline and details caught maybe half the story and missed the essence. A few thoughts, on the event and the coverage:

Especially without any central organizer or major media promotion, the numbers were staggering, and broadly replicated across the country. If a protest warrants a story, this event deserves a Pulitzer-nominated multi-part investigative series.

It wasn’t a forum about the First Amendment, Cathy’s marriage views, or even political bullying. Whatever their motivation, the crowd arrived as a smiling, hungry lunch and dinner crew. It was a massive show of implicit support and protest, for reasons that deserve examination.

My table included a friend who supports civil unions, one for gay marriage, and one who thinks government should get out of the marriage business, letting people and churches make their own agreeable arrangements. We didn’t discuss the fourth person’s view, or anyone else’s that day, because lunch was don’t ask don’t tell.

It’s clear many diners intended to rebuke bullying politicians and the un-American idea that approved political views are required for permission to be in business. Does this resentment go further, and reflect anger at transgressed lines between private and public management, corporate and government bedfellows sharing money, policies, and favors? Is that resentment building toward a November eruptian?

Another strong positive is rejection of a vicious double standard: One side airs views through a respectful media, while others get vilified for different opinions. It’s breathtaking that liberals seek to redefine fundamental cultural concepts and muzzle the opposition; those who question or disagree should be attacked and cowed into silence, even while they speak for majority opinion. That happened with California’s ballot measure on marriage, as more than one financial supporter was hounded from high profile jobs. Wednesday was a salutary fist at that ugly trend.

Finally, what to make of the subdued coverage. Did our scribes not recognize an important cultural moment? Because it doesn’t interest them or flatter their vision? That’s the fish-don’t-know-they’re-wet view of media bias. Or, do they know full well and work carefully to contain the story? Of course, either way, the effect is the same.




Social Security not deal it once was for workers: "People retiring today are part of the first generation of workers who have paid more in Social Security taxes during their careers than they will receive in benefits after they retire. It's a historic shift that will only get worse for future retirees, according to an analysis by The Associated Press. Previous generations got a much better bargain, mainly because payroll taxes were very low when Social Security was enacted in the 1930s and remained so for decades."

Obama's fake birth certificate and other stories that don’t get covered: "Based in Washington, D.C., Diana West writes a weekly column nationally syndicated by the Universal Press Syndicate in Kansas City. It's a courageous column tackling topics seldom broached in the pages of many mainstream dailies. ... 'You're not being paranoid, it's absolutely true,' Ms. West replied. 'For a journalist, the comfort zone of discussable topics is definitely shrinking.'"

Why we shouldn’t tax companies: Because companies don’t pay taxes: "It's not unusual to hear the economically illiterate insisting that companies must pay more in taxes. This is illiterate because companies do not pay taxes. They cannot, for only people can bear the burden of a tax: someone's wallet has to get lighter and that wallet must belong to a person."

Counsel of despair?: "Over the years, I have heard many people say that the government’s adoption of a laissez-faire stance during a business recession or depression amounts to 'do-nothing government' -- the unstated assumption always being that it is better for the government to 'do something' than to do nothing. Recommending such a hands-off stance is often described as a 'counsel of despair.' Moreover, it is frequently added, in a democratic polity, the electorate will not tolerate such a policy. Implicit in such criticism is the assumption that the government knows how to improve the situation and has an incentive to do so."

Government Motors goes subprime: "President Obama continues pointing to his crony bankruptcy bailout of GM as a success. ... Now it turns out that much of the recent sales growth GM has bragged about is due to GM jacking up its sales with subprime loans."

Parenting bill could split baby many ways: "State Sen. Mark Leno wants California to recognize that a child can have 'more than two legal parents.' So he wrote a bill, SB1476, which, he argues, doesn't change the definition of a parent (for example, live-in lovers would not qualify) but allows family court to recognize more than two parents only 'when it is required to be in the best interest of the child.' He stresses that if the bill becomes law, 'None of our sponsors or supporters believe that this authority will be used very often.' SB1476 is for rare cases, Leno argues, like baby M.C., as she is known in court documents."

Obama shows what he thinks of the military: "In a move that puts new meaning to the term battleground, President Obama's re-election campaign and members of some military groups are on a collision course over voting rights in the critical state of Ohio. The Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee have filed a lawsuit to block a new state law allowing men and women in uniform to vote up until the Monday right before an election, while the cutoff on early voting for the rest of the public is three days earlier. Men and women in uniform typically get more time than other voters to send in absentee ballots since they may be serving in an overseas or domestic location that is not close to their home polling station."


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)


Monday, August 06, 2012

Picture gallery

Every six months or so I put up a picture gallery consisting of what I think are the "best" pictures that have appeared on my various blogs. The January to June, 2012 gallery is accessible here.


Ron Unz and IQ

I seem to be a consistent critic of Ron Unz, editor of "The American Conservative". I noted yesterday (and earlier) that his idea of low criminality among Hispanics is contradicted by Obama's deportation statistics and I also took a few potshots at his theory that IQ differences between nations are mostly the effect of environmental factors.

So I am pleased that Richard Lynn has now given a systematic reply to Unz on the IQ question. Lynn echoes some of the points I made (and I did get an email from Lynn saying he liked my article) but his reply is far more detailed and scholarly and, I think, a good reply to Unz's claims.

Unz has replied to Lynn and it looks to me that the two sides are converging, with the differences being in matters of degree. Both parties agree that the environment has some influence but Lynn makes a strong case for the importance of genetics.


Could a brain scan tell you how smart you are? Research shows intelligence linked to strength of neural connections

More evidence that IQ is genetically determined. We are now getting an idea of the specific mechanisms involved

Research suggests that 10 per cent of individual differences in intelligence can be explained by the strength of neural pathways connecting the left lateral prefrontal cortex to the rest of the brain.

The findings, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, establish 'global brain connectivity' as a new approach for understanding how human intelligence relates to physiology.

'Our research shows that connectivity with a particular part of the prefrontal cortex can predict how intelligent someone is,' said Michael Cole, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in cognitive neuroscience at Washington University and lead author of the study.

He says the research is the first to provide compelling evidence that neural connections between the lateral prefrontal cortex and the rest of the brain make a unique and powerful contribution to the cognitive processing underlying human intelligence.

'This study suggests that part of what it means to be intelligent is having a lateral prefrontal cortex that does its job well; and part of what that means is that it can effectively communicate with the rest of the brain,' added study co-author Todd Braver, PhD, professor of psychology in Arts & Sciences and of neuroscience and radiology in the School of Medicine.

One possible explanation of the findings, the research team suggests, is that the lateral prefrontal region is a 'flexible hub' that uses its connectivity to monitor and influence other brain regions.

'There is evidence that the lateral prefrontal cortex is the brain region that "remembers" the goals and instructions that help you keep doing what is needed when you're working on a task,' said Prof Cole. 'So it makes sense that having this region communicating effectively with other regions (the "perceivers" and "doers" of the brain) would help you to accomplish tasks intelligently.'

While other regions of the brain make their own special contribution to cognitive processing, it is the lateral prefrontal cortex that helps coordinate these processes and maintain focus on the task at hand. This happens in much the same way that the conductor of a symphony monitors and tweaks the real-time performance of an orchestra.

The findings are based on an analysis of functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) brain images captured as study participants rested passively and also when they were engaged in a series of mentally challenging tasks associated with fluid intelligence, such as indicating whether a currently displayed image was the same as one displayed three images ago.

Previous findings relating lateral prefrontal cortex activity to challenging task performance were supported. Connectivity was then assessed while participants rested, and their performance on additional tests of fluid intelligence and cognitive control collected outside the brain scanner was associated with the estimated connectivity.

Results indicate that levels of global brain connectivity with a part of the left lateral prefrontal cortex serve as a strong predictor of both fluid intelligence and cognitive control abilities.



Another revealing admission of Leftist motivations

I don't think Leftists realize how arrogant they sound sometimes. Obama is on record as wanting to "fundamentally reshape" the American economy -- something he has certainly done, though not in a way that many would praise -- and we read below something very similar from Kevin Rudd, a past Prime Minister of Australia who could well be getting his job back soon as his Leftist rivals falter. There are no fixed terms for Australian Prime Ministers.

In reading Leftist admissions of wanting to "reshape" countries conservatives ask: What if the people don't want the shape the Leftist wants? What about letting the people shape their nation by their own individual actions and choices? This idea that a "shape" can be imposed from on high is pure Fascism

He is not supposed to be talking about a comeback, but former prime minister Kevin Rudd has given an interview in which he opens up about wanting to shape Australia's future well into the next decade.

Mr Rudd, who unsuccessfully challenged Julia Gillard for the Labor leadership in February, has told the Australian Women's Weekly that shaping the nation - which is somewhat difficult to do from the backbench - is "part of who I am, and you gotta be who you are".

Asked directly whether he wanted an ongoing role for himself, Mr Rudd said: "Oh definitely, it's just who I am. You gotta be who you are."

He was quick to say that "the position you occupy in life is less important". "What's more important is being involved directly in shaping the nation's future, to the extent that you can," he said.



Obama's reliance on ignorance

Calculated Deception. That is the central theme of the Obama campaign. Calculated Deception is the term I use for Obama's rhetorical practice of trying to take advantage of what he calculates the average person does not know, and his party-controlled, so-called mainstream media won't report. And that can be seen over and over in the Obama campaign.

In Monday's Wall Street Journal, Edward Lazear, former Bush chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisors, notes, "A graph titled 'Private Sector Job Creation' on the Obama-Biden campaign website... announces proudly that 4.4 million private sector jobs have been created over the past 28 months." But that factoid is meaningless out of any context, more like a pediatrician boasting to you that under his care your 16-year-old son has grown to 4 feet 4 inches. At the same point during the Reagan recovery, the economy had created 9.5 million new jobs.

Moreover, Lazear correctly adds, "there hasn't been one day during the entire Obama presidency when as many Americans were working as on the day President Bush left office." That's right, contrary to the Obama campaign's misleading claim of 4.4 million new jobs created, total jobs today are still half a million less than in January 2009 when Obama entered office.

Lazear continues, "Moreover, the unemployment rate, which we were told would not exceed 8% if we enacted Mr. Obama's stimulus package...has never fallen below 8% during his presidency. The rate has averaged 9.2% since February 2009." In sharp contrast, after Bush's tax rate cuts were all fully implemented in 2003, the economy created 7.8 million new jobs over the next 4 years and the unemployment rate fell from over 6% to 4.4%. We won't see that again until Obama is out of office.

President Obama and his chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, brag that private sector jobs have now grown for "28 straight months." Obama and Krueger apparently think most Americans do not know that job growth is the norm and not the exception for the American economy. In the 62 years from January 1946, after World War II, until January 2008, jobs grew in 86% of the months, or 640 out of 744. Reagan's recovery produced job growth in 81 out of its first 82 months, with 20 million new jobs created over those 7 years, increasing the civilian workforce at the time by 20%. Even George W. Bush oversaw 52 consecutive months of job growth, including nearly 8 million new jobs created after his 2003 capital gains and dividends tax rate cuts became effective (which Obama is dedicated to reversing).

The relevant streak of Obamanomics was extended in the June jobs report. That report established that under President Obama America has suffered 41 straight months of unemployment over 8%, which the Joint Economic Committee of Congress confirms is the worst recovery from a recession since the Great Depression almost 75 years ago. Indeed, the last time before Obama unemployment was even over 8% was December 1983, when Reaganomics was bringing it down from the Keynesian fiasco of the 1970s. It didn't climb back above that level for 25 years, a generation, which is a measure of the spectacular success of Reaganomics.

But Krueger tells us about that June jobs report, "It is important not to read too much into any one monthly report." The Obama Administration, however, has said the exact same thing for each of the last 30 months, as documented July 6 by Bryan Preston for PJMedia.

President Obama keeps telling us his economic program should be judged by comparison to the worst of the recession. Look, we have turned the corner, he says, and the economy has started growing again, just like your teenage son. But the correct comparison is to prior recoveries from past recessions. As Lazear explained, "Yet we know that all recessions end and that labor markets recover eventually. What distinguishes this labor-market recovery is not that jobs are finally being created but rather the growth rate is so slow that it will be 2016 before we return to pre-recession employment levels." Obama is campaigning as if he were certain that a majority of Americans do not know that all recessions end and that labor markets recover eventually.

American recessions since the Great Depression previously have lasted an average of 10 months, with the longest at 16 months. But this latest recession began in December 2007. The June labor report showed that the most commonly cited U3 unemployment rate remains stuck at 8.2%, with the number of unemployed Americans actually rising over the last 3 months by 76,000, 54 months after the recession started, and 3 years after it was supposedly over, the longest period of unemployment that high since the Great Depression.

Barack Obama knows that history, even though he is sure a majority of you don't. That is why he was confident enough to tell Matt Lauer and the nation in February 2009 regarding economic recovery: "If I don't have that done in three years, then this is going to be a one-term proposition." And it is why the Administration so confidently labeled the summer of 2010 "Recovery Summer," as by historical standards the recovery was already way overdue by then.

Obama's tragic jobs record reflects the dismal economic growth under his administration's throwback, Keynesian economic policies. For all of last year, the economy grew by a paltry real rate of 1.7%, only about half America's long-term trend. The average so far this year has been no better. That dismal growth is further reflected in the Census Bureau reports of falling real wages under Obama, kicking median family income back over 10 years, with more Americans in poverty today than at any time in the more than 50 years that Census has been tracking poverty.

In sharp contrast, in the second year of Reagan's recovery, the economy boomed by a real rate of 6.8%, the highest in 50 years. Real per capita disposable income increased by 18% from 1982 to 1989, meaning the American standard of living increased by almost 20% in those first 7 years of the Reagan boom alone. The poverty rate, which had started increasing during the Carter years, declined every year from 1984 to 1989, dropping by one-sixth from its peak. That is the proper comparison for Obama's economic performance.




Part of a large vote against homosexual "marriage": "Thousands flocked to local Chick-fil-A restaurants to show support for owner Dan Cathy’s controversial statements on same-sex marriage. Cathy’s statements have been the focus of many media groups leading up to the unofficial establishment of Chick-fil-A appreciation day Wednesday by former Arkansas Gov. and 2008 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. In Shreveport, so many customers came out to support the privately owned fast-food establishment that the Chick-fil-A on Youree Drive was forced to close its doors just after 5 p.m. for lack of chicken. The Chick-fil-A on Airline Drive in Bossier City also had incredible business but managed not to sell out, as folks waited 30 minutes or longer to get their nuggets. Even Bossier City police were on hand to direct traffic as the drive-through lane stretched past neighboring businesses and bridged several parking lots."

NY: Activists push city to be first in US to prohibit use of drones: "The City of Buffalo has a chance to be the first in the country to ban Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, also known as drones. A group of activists and community leaders came to City Hall on Tuesday to have their say in front of the Common Council Legislation Committee. 'You guys have an opportunity to make Buffalo the first drone-free city in the United States, and I hope you take that seriously,' John Washington of Occupy Buffalo told lawmakers." (08/01/12)

CA: San Bernardino files for bankruptcy: "A California city filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, the third in the Golden State to do so in recent weeks, stoking experts' concerns that other cities could follow suit. The city of San Bernardino, with more than 200,000 residents on the eastern tip of greater Los Angeles, 'filed an emergency petition for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy' with a regional U.S. bankruptcy court, according to a news release from the city's interim manager."

We need separation of medicine and state: "The federal government, in general, and the Food and Drug Administration, in particular, increasingly inject themselves into direct control of every medical practice. The FDA is aggressively moving past its sole jurisdiction over the approval of every medication and all medical equipment. It now seeks control of perhaps every procedure and treatment that your physician recommends. The FDA issued a warning (i.e., threat) about the use of venal catheters as a result of a physician conducting a clinical trial for treatment of multiple sclerosis. After approving the safety and efficacy of the device, the FDA now requires that it approve every use by individual physicians"

No taxation without respiration!: "This week, the House of Representatives will take up a tax extenders package to prevent the Bush tax cuts of ’01 and ’03 from expiring at the end of the year. Earlier this month, C4L called on the House Ways & Means Committee to include full repeal of the estate tax (AKA -- the death tax) in their tax package."

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


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed 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)