Friday, December 14, 2012

A good woman who respected the life that was in her


Democrats repenting at leisure

"Act in haste, repent at leisure"

Sixteen Democratic senators who voted for the Affordable Care Act are asking that one of its fundraising mechanisms, a 2.3 percent tax on medical devices scheduled to take effect January 1, be delayed.  Echoing arguments made by Republicans against Obamacare, the Democratic senators say the levy will cost jobs — in a statement Monday, Sen. Al Franken called it a “job-killing tax” — and also impair American competitiveness in the medical device field.

The senators, who made the request in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, are Franken, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer, Patty Murray, John Kerry, Kirsten Gillibrand, Amy Klobuchar, Joseph Lieberman, Ben Nelson, Robert Casey, Debbie Stabenow, Barbara Mikulski, Kay Hagan, Herb Kohl, Jeanne Shaheen, and Richard Blumenthal.  All voted for Obamacare.

Two other Democrats, senators-elect Joe Donnelly and Elizabeth Warren, also signed the letter.  Donnelly voted for Obamacare as a member of the House.  Warren was not in Congress at the time.

“The medical technology industry directly employs over 400,000 people in the United States and is responsible for a total of two million skilled manufacturing jobs,” the senators wrote in a December 4 letter to Reid.  “We must do all we can to ensure that our country maintains its global leadership position in the medical technology industry and keeps good jobs here at home.”

Beyond that, the senators say, the medical device industry “has received little guidance about how to comply with the tax” — a reference to the apparently confused and halting nature of the Obama administration’s implementation of Obamacare.

Several of the senators, many of whom have medical device manufacturers in their states, have opposed the tax for a long time.  During the Obamacare debate, for example, Franken and Klobuchar were among a group of senators who successfully pushed to reduce the tax. (The device giant Medtronic is headquartered in Minnesota.)

On Monday, Franken again expressed his opposition to the tax he voted for.  “I want to repeal the medical device tax altogether,” the senator and former comedian said in a statement.  “But I am concerned that we are running out of time before this job-killing tax goes into effect. So, for now, the best thing to do to ensure that this important industry continues to create jobs and producing life-saving devices is to delay this unwise tax.”  Franken and other want Reid to include a provision to delay the tax in the ongoing fiscal cliff negotiations.

None of the senators found his or her earlier objections to the tax a sufficient reason to vote against Obamacare.  In December 2009, with 60 votes in the Senate and a determined Republican opposition, Democrats needed every vote they could get to pass the president’s national health care plan.  But now, with Obamacare — and the taxes to fund it — about to become a reality, some of those Democrats are singing a different tune.



Cause and effect: Americans who voted for Obama now seeing weekly job hours slashed below 30 as Obamacare kicks in

It is the ultimate example of how you reap what you sow: Huge numbers of American workers who voted for Obama are now seeing their own jobs slashed below 30 hours a week as employers desperately try to avoid "Obamacare bankruptcy."

Obamacare mandates for businesses only apply to those working 30 hours a week or more, and while many businesses do not want to cut workers' hours, they are being forced to in order to stay afloat. This necessary action is causing businesses to lose money and become less competitive while at the same time destroying American jobs.

Some businesses are also slashing job positions in an effort to get below the 50-employee threshold above which Obamacare mandates kick in. So across the country, we're not only seeing workers lose hours thanks to Obamacare; we're also seeing workers losing their jobs.

But the Obama administration will announce these results to be a huge "job creation success!" because workers must now find two part-time jobs that usually pay less than the one full-time job they used to have. The raw job numbers, however, will be spun by the White House into a victory pronouncement of "twice as many jobs exist now!"

A note to Obama supporters: When you thought you were voting for "free health care," you were actually voting to get yourself "downsized." Your vote was an act of economic suicide. That's because no government can force a business to pay for something that will put it out of business. When government mandates become too expensive for a business to afford, it will simply stop conducting business and that means cutting jobs or job hours.

Imagine: If Obama announced a new initiative called "double pay for all workers" and made it a federal law, he would of course win another popular vote. But employers wouldn't be able to afford the double pay mandate, so they would start slashing jobs or offshoring jobs, and that's exactly what we see today. Every employer in America is right now asking himself these three questions in order to stay above water and not go bankrupt:

#1) How can we slash workers to under 30 hours a week?

#2) How can we offshore jobs to India or other countries?

#3) How can we cut our total number of employees to under fifty?

This is the upshot of Obamacare: the destruction of America's small businesses.

At the same time small businesses are struggling to afford Obamacare, mega-corporations like Google are proudly announcing they're paying only 3.5% in taxes thanks to a complex array of global tax-shifting strategies with names like the "Double Irish" and "Dutch Sandwich." As Bloomberg recently reported:

"Google Inc. (GOOG) avoided about $2 billion in worldwide income taxes in 2011 by shifting $9.8 billion in revenues into a Bermuda shell company, almost double the total from three years before, filings show. By legally funneling profits from overseas subsidiaries into Bermuda, which doesn’t have a corporate income tax, Google cut its overall tax rate almost in half. The amount moved to Bermuda is equivalent to about 80 percent of Google’s total pretax profit in 2011."

So while Google, one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, pays just 3.5% in TOTAL tax, small businesses across America find themselves paying 30%, 40%, even 50% of their earnings in total taxes, including FICA, social security, inventory tax, capital gains and now Obamacare surcharges and taxes. This is how Obamacare works: Protect the corporate giants while socking it to small and medium-sized businesses.

Obamacare is gutting America's economy and throwing a wrench into the economic machinery that keeps America working. You know why service is so slow at retailers these days? Because Obamacare forced the employer to slash workers' hours. Why do car parts take so long to order and deliver? Because Obamacare gutted the human resources of the parts manufacturers. Why is everything becoming slower, more expensive and more frustrating across the economy? Because Obamacare mandates have forced employers to downsize or lay off their most productive workers.

I ask: What good is a health insurance mandate if it destroys your job in the process of being enforced?

The simple truth of all this is that economics is a subject best left to those people capable of understanding mathematics, and that precludes the vast majority of voters of either political party. Mathematically speaking, Obama's so-called "mandate" isn't even a real mandate: Less than half of eligible voters actually voted in this recent election, and barely half of those voted for Obama. This means that roughly 75% of eligible voters didn't vote for Obama, yet they must suffer under his economic policies which are based in pure fantasy and delusion.

Obama has zero business experience. He has no clue how economics really works and no knowledge of how to run a successful business, much less the executive branch of government. I know what it takes to create multi-million-dollar companies because I've done it successfully and repeatedly, and I can assure you that the economic policies currently being pursued in Washington will only destroy jobs, destroy America's economy and destroy our economic future.

Democrats, it seems, believe the solution to all this is to make taxpayers pay even more money to the federal government. As we are told by the lamestream media, apparently the only reason the economy isn't celebrating a rapid expansion right now is because workers and businesses are allowed to keep too much of their own incomes. If only Washington D.C. had more of your money, they would use it more wisely, we're told, and fix all our problems. Obamacare is just the beginning: power-hungry zealots like Obama have plans for centralizing control and running everything in your life: health care, food choices, educational choices, private property, energy consumption, home gardening and anything else you might imagine.

Instead of blaming Obama, of course, the vast majority of the recently-unemployed will blame their employer! "How dare you cut my hours!" they will scream, oblivious to the fact that their employer did NOT want to cut their hours but was forced to by a cabal of economic morons in Washington who are dismantling America's economy one piece of legislation at a time.



Michigan’s Modest Labor Reform

Michigan has passed a modest labor reform, and the result has been threats and violence from Democratic elected officials and their union henchmen. While this is deplorable, it is not surprising: Organized labor’s business model is mechanically identical to extortion, and it is in the nature of the extortionist’s trade to resort to violence when frustrated.

To hear the Democrats tell the tale, you would think that Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan’s Republican-controlled legislature had abolished unions. In fact, the legislation merely prohibits unions from forcing workers to pay dues to them as a condition of employment, which is why such measures are called “right-to-work laws.” The law imposes no limitation on unions’ ability to organize, to engage in collective bargaining, or to strike. It merely forbids them to take money out of the pockets of workers who do not wish to join them.

In response, Democratic legislator Douglas Geiss declared on the floor of the state house: “There will be blood. There will be repercussions.” And indeed there were: Knife-wielding partisans brought down a tent on representatives from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity — women and children among them — and roughed up bystanders. Fox News contributor Steven Crowder was beaten by the same mob, punched repeatedly in the face. See below.

Union thug in action

Michigan is the 24th state to enact a right-to-work law, and the most heavily unionized state to do so. Even though Michigan is the heartland of the United Auto Workers, only 17.5 percent of the state’s workers belong to unions, and most of the state’s union members are government employees. Indeed, so many government-school employees called in sick to protest the right-to-work bill that some school districts had to be shut down. (Not that Michigan’s schools are doing Michiganders much good: The share of Michigan eighth-graders who perform proficiently in math and science is 29.4 and 16.5 percent respectively, suggesting that very few of them will be ready for the high-tech manufacturing jobs that are the pride of the state’s economy.) Michigan was inspired to pursue reforms in no small part by the example of Indiana, which saw its business-recruiting prospects improve after enacting right-to-work reform.

One reason why Michigan kids do so poorly at school?

Right-to-work laws do not necessarily hobble unions; rather, they force unions to compete for resources and prove their value to their workers. Some unions provide obvious value: In places in which private-sector unions already are strongly established, right-to-work laws have in fact had little effect on union membership. The critical difference is that workers have a choice. This is a principle that should be codified in law in every state, and at the federal level as well. Someday, an ambitious Republican congressional majority should simply repeal the corrosive National Labor Relations Act and be done with it. But until that time, the right will proceed state by state.

Democrats are panicked by the spread of right-to-work reforms because the mandatory deduction of dues from the paychecks of public-sector employees provides the party’s financial lifeblood. There are not that many UAW members or Teamsters in the country, but there are legions of bureaucrats, school workers, and surly DMV clerks — and, through its relationship with the public-sector unions, the Democratic party has a direct pipeline into the pockets of practically each and every one of them. The shrieking in Michigan isn’t about workingmen’s wages, but campaign coffers. That is why there is blood.



Freedom from union compulsion

by Jeff Jacoby

Republican legislators voted Tuesday to make Michigan the 24th state in the nation to protect an essential civil liberty: the right to work for a living without being required to join or pay money to a labor union. Governor Rick Snyder signed the new laws – one dealing with private-sector employees, one covering government employment – a few hours later, hailing them as "pro-worker and pro-Michigan."

Big Labor and its allies, of course, are furiously denouncing this as "union busting" and worse. President Obama told union members at a Michigan engine plant on Monday that "so-called right to work laws" are an attempt "to take away your rights to bargain for better wages or working conditions." Democratic congressman Sander Levin fumed on PBS that backers of right-to-work laws want "to snuff out the voice in the workplace, to destroy collective bargaining." Thousands of union activists descended on the state Capitol in Lansing, feverishly protesting what the United Auto Workers hyperbolically labels "the worst anti-worker legislation Michigan has ever seen."

But fewer and fewer people are swayed by such over-the-top rhetoric. Even in Michigan, where the UAW was launched 75 years ago and which has long been thought of as an organized-labor stronghold, unions' strong-arm tactics no longer compel the deference they once did. On Election Day, Michigan voters comfortably backed Obama over Mitt Romney, while simultaneously spurning – by a 15-point margin – a union-promoted measure that would have cemented collective bargaining into the state constitution.

Labor unions commanded greater public affection back when they relied more on the power of persuasion than on the persuasion of power. In a 1957 Gallup Poll, 75 percent of Americans said they approved of unions. Today union approval stands at just 52 percent, while a plurality of Americans says that unions should have less influence, not more. Michigan may be America's fifth-most unionized state, but even there most residents want little to do with organized labor. Union members account for just 17.5 percent of Michigan's workforce.

The advantage of right-to-work laws is hard to miss. As analyst F. Vincent Vernuccio of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a market-oriented Michigan think tank, notes, workers "vote with their feet." Since 1970, the population of right-to-work states has doubled, while in states that allow compulsory unionism, the population has only grown by one-third. "The exodus route is clear," Vernuccio writes.

Between 2000 and 2010, there has been a net domestic migration of nearly 5 million people from states that lack right-to-work protection to states that confer them. Is it sheer coincidence that over the last decade, inflation-adjusted compensation in right-to-work states grew by almost 12 percent compared to just 3 percent in non-right-to-work states? Or that in CNBC's latest ranking of the "Top States for Business," all but two of the top 15 are right-to-work states?

To witness the growth a right-to-work environment makes possible, Michigan legislators need gaze no farther than neighboring Indiana, which banned compulsory unionism early in 2012. Since January, the Hoosier State has added 43,300 jobs. Michigan has lost 4,200.

But the economic gains are secondary. The essential issue is liberty. Every American worker should have the right to join a labor union. And also the right not to.




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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)


Thursday, December 13, 2012

CUT Capital Gains Tax Rate To Boost Government Revenue

If President Obama and Congress want more tax revenue as part of a deal to avoid the fiscal cliff, they should consider cutting the capital gains tax rate.

Since 1981, every four-year period after the capital gains tax rate was reduced saw an increase in the amount of capital gains revenue the government received.

President Obama not only insists that the Bush tax cuts expire for the top 2% of income earners, he wants a hike in the capital gains rate to 20% from 15%.

With other changes, including a new 3.8% ObamaCare-Medicare tax on investment income, the effective top capital gains tax rate will rise to 25%.

"Raising the capital gains rate will most likely reduce revenue," said Will McBride, chief economist at the conservative Tax Foundation. "That's based on a long history of capital gains changes since World War II."

Cap Gains Tax Hike Backfires

The one time the capital gains tax rate was increased since 1981 was in 1987, from 20% to 28%. From 1987-90, capital gains revenue fell from $33.7 billion to $27.8 billion, with an average annual decline of -12.8%.

Capital gains tax rates were cut from 28% to 20% in 1981, again from 28% to 20% in 1997, and from 20% to 15% in 2003. Capital gains tax revenues grew by an annual average of 15.8% from 1981-84, 17.8% from 1997-2000, and 25.5% from 2003-06.

"One of the worst things you can tax is capital formation," said McBride. "When you increase the capital gains rate, you increase the tax on using equities to finance investing."

When the capital gains rate was reduced from 20% to 15% in 2003, capital gains revenue grew about $2 billion from 2002. In 2004, when the 15% rate was in effect for a full year, capital gains revenue rose to $73 billion, a nearly $22 billion increase from 2003. Capital gains revenue continued to rise, peaking at $137 billion in 2007. From 2003-07, the U.S. government collected about $155 billion more in capital gains revenue than the Congressional Budget Office had predicted.

Going back further than 1981 shows a similar effect. From 1968-76, the capital gains rate rose each year, going from 25% to 39.875%. During that period, the average annual growth rate in cap ital gains taxes was 9.8%. From 1954-67, the capital gains rate stayed at 25% every year. Average annual growth during that span was a more-robust 14.1%.

Raising capital gains rates isn't just a loser for the federal budget.

"It's a bigger loser for the private economy," said McBride. "Our simulations find that by far and away, the biggest danger to the economy in the fiscal cliff is an increase in the capital gains and dividend rate."

Obama would also hike the tax rate on dividends by taxing them as regular income as they were before the Bush tax cuts. That would increase the top rate on dividends from 15% to 39.5%. With the ObamaCare tax and other changes, the payout tax rate would nearly triple to 44.6%.

The Tax Foundation modeled the impact of letting all the Bush tax cuts expire, not just for those in the top 2%. That would reduce GDP by more than 9% over 10 years with nearly two-thirds of that due to the higher investment tax rates. Those hikes would reduce federal revenues by about $158 billion over 10 years.

'Fairness' Vs. Finances

Despite the evidence, neither Obama nor congressional Republicans are proposing to cut the current capital gains tax rate as part of a fiscal cliff deal.

Obama is committed to the rich paying more as a matter of "fairness." In a 2008 debate, he said he'd raise the capital gains rate "for purposes of fairness" even when the moderator noted that such cuts had increased revenue.

Meanwhile, GOP lawmakers being hammered as the party of the rich aren't eager to propose a capital gains tax cut.



Profiting From a Child’s Illiteracy

Kristof of the NYT has an epiphany about the ill effects of welfare payments:

THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.

“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

Some young people here don’t join the military (a traditional escape route for poor, rural Americans) because it’s easier to rely on food stamps and disability payments.

Antipoverty programs also discourage marriage: In a means-tested program like S.S.I., a woman raising a child may receive a bigger check if she refrains from marrying that hard-working guy she likes. Yet marriage is one of the best forces to blunt poverty. In married couple households only one child in 10 grows up in poverty, while almost half do in single-mother households.

Most wrenching of all are the parents who think it’s best if a child stays illiterate, because then the family may be able to claim a disability check each month.

“One of the ways you get on this program is having problems in school,” notes Richard V. Burkhauser, a Cornell University economist who co-wrote a book last year about these disability programs. “If you do better in school, you threaten the income of the parents. It’s a terrible incentive.”

About four decades ago, most of the children S.S.I. covered had severe physical handicaps or mental retardation that made it difficult for parents to hold jobs — about 1 percent of all poor children. But now 55 percent of the disabilities it covers are fuzzier intellectual disabilities short of mental retardation, where the diagnosis is less clear-cut. More than 1.2 million children across America — a full 8 percent of all low-income children — are now enrolled in S.S.I. as disabled, at an annual cost of more than $9 billion.

That is a burden on taxpayers, of course, but it can be even worse for children whose families have a huge stake in their failing in school. Those kids may never recover: a 2009 study found that nearly two-thirds of these children make the transition at age 18 into S.S.I. for the adult disabled. They may never hold a job in their entire lives and are condemned to a life of poverty on the dole — and that’s the outcome of a program intended to fight poverty.

THERE’S no doubt that some families with seriously disabled children receive a lifeline from S.S.I. But the bottom line is that we shouldn’t try to fight poverty with a program that sometimes perpetuates it.

A local school district official, Melanie Stevens, puts it this way: “The greatest challenge we face as educators is how to break that dependency on government. In second grade, they have a dream. In seventh grade, they have a plan.”



Democrats' Assault on Language

For months, pundits and politicians have been saying that Americans have a math problem. They have a point, for Mr. Obama routinely champions the idea that running annual deficits in excess of $1 trillion dollars can be continued, simply by requiring Americans to pay $200 billion in taxes more each year. Anyone with a 3rd grade grasp of math has long ago come to the conclusion that even if Mr. Obama gets his way, huge annual deficits will remain, and the nation cannot sustain the current level of profligate spending indefinitely. Somehow, contrary to all known mathematics principles, and contrary to all common sense, in the mind of our president, the math works.

Now, even our language is under assault. Americans are no longer arguing about increasingly misleading and dodgy ways to represent the budget numbers, but are now battling over the meaning of the words being used by both sides in these arguments.

Consider Mr. Obama’s primary contention that the millionaires and billionaires (defined, without any sense of irony, as those making $250,000 a year) need to pay “just a little bit more” in taxes. The president contends that raising taxes to 39% on the top 2% will generate $1.6 trillion dollars over 10 years with no adverse effects to job growth.

 *  Barack Obama, has said "We can make another trillion or trillion-two, and ask for the wealthy to pay a little bit more."

 *  Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader, has said: "people making all this money have to contribute a little bit more,"

 *  Dick Durbin, Senate Majority Whip, has said; "let the tax rates go up to 39 percent", that's it's okay for the wealthy to pay "just a bit more".

 *  According to Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), "At a time when middle class families continue to struggle, it’s only fair to call on the wealthiest Americans to pay just a bit more toward their fair share,” Murray said after the vote".

 *  Peter Orszag (former head of OMB) claims:  calling for the wealthy to pay "just a bit more" in order to achieve needed compromise on taxes and debt, is a reasonable and moderate approach.

However, in the Democrat's lexicon, what constitutes "just a bit more" changes dramatically when referring to calls for cuts of $400 billion in entitlement reform. Suddenly, much smaller calls for cuts of $400 billion are defined as imprudent "hacking away", "a gusher" and "hemorrhaging.", Yet, the president's plan to raise $1.6 trillion (or about 4 times that amount) in new taxes are described as “just a little bit.”

Remember the Paul Ryan Budget that called for $1.4 trillion in cuts to Medicaid? That plan was quickly called a "draconian", effort to punish the poor and elderly. If $1.6 trillion is defined by Mr. Obama as “just a little bit”, how then can a smaller number be defined as a draconian slash designed to punish? But, all of this, Mr. Obama tells us, is in the pursuit of a “balanced approach”.

Words do matter, and according to Socrates' Law of Identity, A=A. Or, as John Stuart Mill explains: "Whatever is true in one form of words, is true in every other form of words, which conveys the same meaning". So, if 1.6 trillion dollars is "gouging" and "draconian" when talking about entitlement spending cuts, then $1.6 trillion dollars is "gouging" and "draconian" when talking about tax increases.

We seem to have reached a sad impasse: even before members of Congress can agree on a course of action to avert the fiscal cliff, they need to agree on what words they use.

During the last election, Democrats proved their ability to inflame and to misdirect attention away from the president's failed policies, while obfuscating the very real financial crisis our country is facing. Inciting class warfare and racial tensions with the careful use of loaded words has become a Democrat stock in trade whenever there are difficult policy decisions to be made. The question is: how can Republicans negotiate with Democrats when the two parties clearly speak different languages?



Taxing the Poor

 Thomas Sowell

With all the talk about taxing the rich, we hear very little talk about taxing the poor. Yet the marginal tax rate on someone living in poverty can sometimes be higher than the marginal tax rate on millionaires.

While it is true that nearly half the households in the country pay no income tax at all, the apparently simple word "tax" has many complications that can be a challenge for even professional economists to untangle.

If you define a tax as only those things that the government chooses to call a tax, you get a radically different picture from what you get when you say, "If it looks like a tax, acts like a tax and takes away your resources like a tax, then it's a tax."

One of the biggest, and one of the oldest, taxes in this latter sense is inflation. Governments have stolen their people's resources this way, not just for centuries, but for thousands of years.

Hyperinflation can take virtually your entire life's savings, without the government having to bother raising the official tax rate at all. The Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1920s had thousands of printing presses turning out vast amounts of money, which the government could then spend to pay for whatever it wanted to pay for.

Of course, prices skyrocketed with vastly more money in circulation. Many people's life savings would not buy a loaf of bread. For all practical purposes, they had been robbed, big time.

A rising demagogue coined the phrase "starving billionaires," because even a billion Deutschmarks was not enough to feed your family. That demagogue was Adolf Hitler, and the public's loss of faith in their irresponsible government may well have contributed toward his Nazi movement's growth.

Most inflation does not reach that level, but the government can quietly steal a lot of your wealth with much lower rates of inflation. For example a $100 bill at the end of the 20th century would buy less than a $20 bill would buy in 1960.

If you put $1,000 in your piggy bank in 1960 and took it out to spend in 2000, you would discover that your money had, over time, lost 80 percent of its value.

Despite all the political rhetoric today about how nobody's taxes will be raised, except for "the rich," inflation transfers a percentage of everybody's wealth to a government that expands the money supply. Moreover, inflation takes the same percentage from the poorest person in the country as it does from the richest.

That's not all. Income taxes only transfer money from your current income to the government, but it does not touch whatever money you may have saved over the years. With inflation, the government takes the same cut out of both.

It is bad enough when the poorest have to turn over the same share of their assets to the government as the richest do, but it is grotesque when the government puts a bigger bite on the poorest. This can happen because the rich can more easily convert their assets from money into things like real estate, gold or other assets whose value rises with inflation. But a welfare mother is unlikely to be able to buy real estate or gold. She can put a few dollars aside in a jar somewhere. But wherever she may hide it, inflation can steal value from it without having to lay a hand on it.

No wonder the Federal Reserve uses fancy words like "quantitative easing," instead of saying in plain English that they are essentially just printing more money.

The biggest and most deadly "tax" rate on the poor comes from a loss of various welfare state benefits-- food stamps, housing subsidies and the like-- if their income goes up.

Someone who is trying to climb out of poverty by working their way up can easily reach a point where a $10,000 increase in pay can cost them $15,000 in lost benefits that they no longer qualify for. That amounts to a marginal tax rate of 150 percent-- far more than millionaires pay. Some government policies help some people at the expense of other people. But some policies can hurt welfare recipients, the taxpayers and others, all at the same time, even though in different ways.

Why? Because we are too easily impressed by lofty political rhetoric and too little interested in the reality behind the words.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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, December 12, 2012

The American Welfare State

Throughout the presidential campaign, Republican candidates pointed to the number of food stamp recipients -- increasing from 33 million people in 2009 to 43 million in 2012 -- as a sign that poverty had skyrocketed under President Obama. But a new study suggests that the reason there has been such an increase in food stamp recipients during the last four years is even more pernicious.

The study's authors, George Mason University's David Armor and Sonia Sousa, argue that the food stamp program can no longer be regarded as an anti-poverty program because nearly half of its recipients are above the poverty line, many of them substantially so. And other anti-poverty programs have an even higher percentage of the non-poor among their recipients.

Armor and Sousa reported their findings in "Restoring a True Safety Net," an article published in the public policy magazine National Affairs. The study examined spending over the last thirty years for federal anti-poverty programs providing nutrition, health care, housing and cash assistance for the supposed poor. They show that the explosion in costs for these programs has little to do with the higher numbers of Americans who have fallen into poverty since the Great Recession (as the authors dub the economic downturn that began in 2008).

Spending for poverty programs received a big boost during the Bush years, a $100 billion increase over eight years. But the Obama spending spree dwarfed those increases. In his first two years in office, President Obama increased such spending by $150 billion, some of it in the 2009 stimulus package. The portion of the federal budget now attributable to fighting the "war on poverty" is now roughly equal to the entire defense budget ($666 billion compared to $693 billion), slightly less than spending on Social Security ($700 billion), but more than on Medicare ($551 billion). Taken together, federal spending on income transfers and other social benefits are now 2.76 times greater than spending for national defense.

How did this happen? The major changes occurred when the government allowed more lenient standards for eligibility for benefits. Most of these programs were originally designed to help those who lived below the official poverty line, which in 2011 was $11,702 for a single person and $22,811 for a family of four. But over the years, the federal government has lowered the threshold so that even those earning twice the income considered below poverty still qualify.

States play a role in determining who qualifies as well; and in several states, a family of four with income of over $45,000 a year is eligible to receive benefits. According to the study, over half of the recipients of food stamps (now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP), have income above the poverty line. Of the 40.3 million receiving food stamps in 2010 (the last year for which detailed figures are available), 20.4 were above the poverty cut-off. Of these, a whopping 8 million have income twice the poverty level.

And the non-poor receive more benefits than food stamps. Those living at 133-200 percent or more of the poverty level also constitute the greatest number of beneficiaries of Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program. Even Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), which gives cash benefits to those supposedly in need, now supports those whose incomes are twice the official poverty definition; indeed 40 percent of TANF funds go to families whose incomes are more than 200 percent of poverty.

The policy implications of these findings are enormous. What once were programs to provide a safety net for the truly poor are now programs to boost the living standards of the lower middle class. More importantly, these changes reflect a sea change in social and economic policy. Those who have warned that America is heading toward a welfare state are wrong. We are already there. As Congress and White House officials debate the fiscal crisis, the failure to deal with the burgeoning dependency of millions of Americans will doom any long-term, viable solution.



Why Work Anyway?

I was shocked by something I heard from one of my friend’s sons the other day.  He is a college graduate with a business degree and fortunately has a job.  We were all talking about the fiscal cliff and how it would affect people making over $250K a year.  His reaction to the top rate rising to 39% along with the California State tax increase due to Proposition 30 prompted him to say, “Whew, I think I dodged a bullet! I was up for a promotion with a pay raise but someone else got it. I’m pretty sure my taxable income will be under the level where I would have gotten punished.”  PUNISHED.

He was basically saying that he would rather earn less and stop advancing in his career than be hit with massive taxes.  I asked him to explain and he said that basically he didn’t want to work and then fork over 50% or more of his earnings to the government.  He said that he had gone to school, studied hard and gotten a job but was still burdened with excessive student loans and he felt that with that hanging over his head he couldn’t afford to pay more in taxes.

As for buying a home and starting a family, well that was not even an option for him.  He said that if they were talking about taking away the mortgage home deduction then why buy a house anyway?

This is where we have come in this country.  It is now a better option to take a lower paying job, rent a home or live with mom and take government benefits than it is to climb up the ladder to success.  The American dream is fading folks.  Like an old photograph from a Polaroid instant camera, the picture is slowly disintegrating.

Our entitlement society is out of control. It is a sad fact that a head of a household of four making minimum wage has more disposable income than a family making $60,000 a year.  In an article in August 2010 this issue was discussed in The National Review.

 “In many cases, economists have calculated, welfare recipients who enter the work force or receive pay raises lose a dollar or more of benefits for each additional dollar they earn. The system makes fools of those who work hard.

“Recently the chairmen of two important subcommittees on Capitol Hill convened a hearing on this issue. The hearing elicited some revealing testimony from one of the chairmen’s congressional colleagues.”

“The more benefits the government provides, the stronger the disincentive to work,” Representative Geoff Davis (R., Ky.) pointed out. The great irony, he added, is that although federal welfare programs “are designed to alleviate poverty while promoting work,” collectively they have “an unintended side effect of discouraging harder work and higher earnings.”

Less work and lower earnings, in turn, translate into greater dependency on the government — and zero or even downward social and economic mobility for those mired in poverty.”

Working women who are single with children often forego a raise because it would push them into the dilemma of losing Title 20 daycare if they made more money.   There are over 70 Federal welfare programs right now and the list will continue to grow under Obama.  If a person works and climbs the ladder, they will become disqualified for these programs and lose all of the benefits that they have become so accustomed to.

This creates a moral dilemma. When good people continue to stay on unemployment because taking a job would not pay them as much as their benefit, how can you really blame them?  We don’t live in a culture where people are embarrassed to ask for a handout.  It is so easy just to file for benefits by computer, have the funds deposited directly into your bank account or take your EBT credit card to buy anything you want.  There is no shame in taking government assistance, you are entitled to it.

“Today, more people than ever before—67.3 million Americans, from college students to retirees to welfare beneficiaries—depend on the federal government for housing, food, income, student aid, or other assistance once considered to be the responsibility of individuals, families, neighborhoods, churches, and other civil society institutions. The United States reached another milestone in 2010: For the first time in history, half the population pays no federal income taxes.” - National Review

So the tipping point has been reached and now the government is scrambling to grab any and all money that working people make just to pay these entitlements.  Unfortunately, the American people are waking up and becoming more like the young man I talked to.  They are seeing that their hard work and effort is not benefiting their own families, but being redistributed to others; some who need it and others who just don’t bother to work.  Look at the major companies that are paying out dividends before the huge taxes kick in.  They can see the writing on the wall and are preparing for it.

The young already know that they will probably never see social security or Medicare benefits in their lifetime yet they see it withdrawn from their checks every week.  They are the ones sensing the “unfairness” of all of this, not the people reaping the benefits.

This is NOT America, this is not who we are as a country.  If we don’t stop punishing success and achievement, future American generations (if there are any) will be content to sit at home and count their government goodies but will never excel at anything, never strive to be anything.  There will be no incentive to achieve success.  Why should you? It will just be taken away.

Once the so-called “rich” have been drained dry the only option left for the government will be to just keep printing money.  That lasts until the economy collapses in on itself and by that time the country we knew will be just like that fading Polaroid, a memory.



Fewer Americans employed, unemployment rate drops

Perhaps it is time for Congress to zero out the budget of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an agency of the Department of Labor whose data is so important to financial markets that figuring out how to protect it against its early release has become a major debate in the halls of the Frances Perkins Building.

Why? Their work has become increasingly irrelevant.

This morning the Labor Department announced that the unemployment rate dropped from 7.9 to 7.7 percent. The economy must be booming.

Only one problem: the same report shows that 122,000 fewer Americans were employed in November than in October.

What?  This disconnect is why the unemployment rate has become the most meaningless economic statistic released by the government. What’s worse is that it duplicates private-sector efforts that are more reflective of what is happening in the economy.

Both ADP with its payroll survey and Gallup with a traditional employment survey actually accomplish what the Labor Department attempts to do without costing taxpayers a dime.

This is not a debate about whether the Labor Department numbers are correct or not: it is a question of whether they are relevant or even a necessary government function.

Given the divergence between the announced unemployment rate and the actual number of people employed, it just may be time for the Labor Department to get out of the statistical survey game altogether.

As the Senate is currently being asked to decide whether to confirm a new commissioner to lead the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they should ask the real question. Is the bureau performing a necessary function that cannot be done by the private sector?

Since the answer is no, there really is no excuse for either confirming a new commissioner, or continuing to fund the agency itself. After all, I’m sure if the government statisticians were measuring the economy from the unemployment lines, they might have a chance of getting a true picture of our nation’s employment situation.



Ten Things to Say to an Obama Voter Who Just Got Laid Off

1. "Hey, at least that successful Mormon businessman didn't win."

2. "Didn't your lady parts warn you this would happen?"

3. "Look at the Bright Side, Gay marriage passed in four states."

4. "Hey, Big Bird still has a job. Isn't that the important thing?"

5. "I am sure Obama cares deeply about your situation. Maybe he'll send you a postcard from Hawaii."

6. "Well, look at the bright side, Rush Limbaugh is getting a massive tax increase."

7. "Hey! Now you'll have more time to play with your unicorn."

8. "Isn't it worth losing your job to know that religious organizations now have to pay for abortions and contraceptives?"

9. "Well, now you and Keith Olbermann have something else in common."

10. "Forward!"

From George Roper



“Riding” Social Security off a cliff:  "As currently arranged, Social Security allows today’s retirees to free-ride on other people’s money. By voting for candidates who promise to maintain (or even better, to increase) Social Security’s stream of payments to each retiree, retirees free-ride on the earnings of current workers. Or if Uncle Sam borrows the money to pay today’s retirees, these retirees free-ride on the earnings of future workers, who will be taxed so that Uncle Sam can repay his creditors."

Two of a kind:  "For all those who think that our deficit is caused by a dearth of revenue, consider this thought experiment. In 2012, the federal government will spend $3.56 trillion. Last week's Powerball jackpot was a reported $587.5 million, the largest winning Powerball payout ever. In order to finance current spending, the federal government would have to hit that jackpot 6,570 times. As recently as fiscal year 2001, President Clinton's last budget, federal spending amounted to just $1.9 trillion."

UP the fiscal cliff?:  "Regarding the so-called fiscal cliff; the President wants to increase taxes on those earning $250,000 or more per year.  He says it is to reduce the deficit.  But it will have almost no effect on the deficit. Many of us predict that the next step he will take if he gets the $250,000 is to say, 'Oops, that did not help much, let’s go to $200,000'."



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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, December 11, 2012

Free market's lessons go untaught and unlearned  -- particularly in CA

Advocates for bigger government – which is just about everyone these days, it seems – believe that government is the most efficient and humane provider of goods and services. It's such a bizarre way of viewing the world, but lessons about the wonders of the free market apparently aren't taught anywhere anymore.

The presidential election and ongoing debates in the California Legislature illustrate this frightening phenomenon. Voters chose a president who has an undying faith in the power of government, and even the Republican candidate failed to clearly explain his most-obvious advantage – why free enterprise is superior to government coercion.

I don't like to toss around pejoratives such as "socialist," but what do you call a state Legislature where the dominant faction seethes with hostility toward private firms and does little more than hatch plans to create new government programs?  This in spite of the fact that, wherever we look, government fails.

The Sacramento Bee recently published an instructive article about how a federal wildlife agency is gaining contracts for pest-control services of the type that private-sector companies already provide.

One of the basics of government is that it should not assume tasks that private companies already are doing, but now that government is seemingly unlimited, no one seems to care about that idea anymore.

In the Agriculture Department's Wildlife Services program, many of the costs are off the books – i.e., unfunded pension and overhead costs, which makes it seem as if the agency is more cost competitive than it really is. Essentially, taxpayers are footing the bill for something that should be paid for by those who need to contract for such services. And the government is putting private firms out of business.

But the most instructive aspect of this story is how poorly the agency provides pest-control services. It is notorious for its ham-fisted approach to pest management, including killing of endangered species and a culture in which such deaths are concealed by workers. The agency has simply ignored calls for reform by members of Congress and activist groups.

"[Concern] is directed at an agency called Wildlife Services, which is already under scrutiny for its lethal control of predators and other animals in the rural West," the Bee reported. "A ... series earlier this year found the agency targets wildlife in ways that have killed thousands of nontarget animals, including family pets, and can trigger unintended, negative ecological consequences."

If a private company operated in such a way, there would be accountability – legal efforts to control its practices, lawsuits by people whose family pets were killed due to the company's irresponsibility, and criminal prosecutions for violations of environmental laws.

But the government doesn't have to live up to the same laws that apply to the rest of us. Instead of having to cease and desist, Wildlife Services goes along its merry way, expanding more deeply into an activity the private market already is handling in a better and less-costly way.

As the article pointed out, the federal agency operates in virtual secrecy, which is another hallmark of government endeavors. Here is the Bee again: "'It's been such an uphill struggle,' said Erick Wolf, CEO of a California firm called Innolytics, which developed a form of birth control for Canada geese and pigeons with help from Wildlife Services' scientists in Colorado. ...'All they want to do is shoot, trap and poison,' said Wolf. 'They don't want to consider anything else.'"

Government does not have a bottom line so its incentives are different. Government agencies often are protected from meaningful oversight. This is why a federal wildlife agency can wreak havoc on wildlife and why governments often are the biggest polluters.

These days I even hear people argue that government is the best way to provide services because there is no profit motive. That reflects an almost unbelievable level of economic ignorance, but it is a point officials make as they try to use government's power of eminent domain against private water companies, for instance.

Businesses need to earn a profit, but the prices of their products are determined by competition, which relentlessly drives down costs and increases efficiencies as the less-able providers go out of business.

There is no place to offload private costs onto the public in a free market, even though some businesses despicably lobby the government for special privileges and bailouts.

If the advocates for government efficiency were right, then the Soviet Union – where thousands of unneeded tractors rusted in vacant lots as the public waited in line for toilet paper – would have been the most successful economy on the globe. We would all be happily driving Trabants rather than Toyotas, Fords and Volkswagens.



Out-innovate the state

Even in the face of high taxes, borrowing and debt, the history of modernity gives us every reason to be optimistic. Economic growth and the rise in living standards since around 1780 has been immense. In Britain, not even accounting for improvements in the quality and choice of consumer products, the average person is 1500% wealthier than their ancestor in 1780. Crucially, this progress has been the result of sustained innovation, increasing the productivity of existing processes and products, and displacing the markets for old goods with newer and better substitutes in a process of creative destruction. Perhaps more importantly however, innovation is also able to displace government provision and restriction of certain goods.

As I pointed out yesterday, innovation trumps all. It was able to make Britain one of the most prosperous nations even despite its high taxes and protectionist mercantilism back in 1780. Even on a theoretical level, the unlimited powers of human ingenuity and imagination will always be able to find a way around existing physical circumstances. Right now, it continues to undermine existing policies, forcing progressive change, with the effects of the internet still being felt.

For example, massive online communities like Fitocracy provide the incentives to exercise and keep fit. As they grow in popularity and effectiveness, they may undermine the case for government anti-obesity interventions. Similarly, sites like Amazon and eBay have their own internal arbitration and regulation mechanisms for when things go wrong, reducing the role for external governmental regulators. Even education, which has experienced little in the way of productivity increases for centuries, can now be disseminated via free online courses like memrise to people across the world, without the need for expensive state grants to both universities and students.

Even in extreme circumstances, innovation is able to markedly increase living standards while undermining coercive monopolies. For example across Africa, the diffusion of mobile phones has allowed money to be transmitted directly to the intended recipients, circumventing corrupt officials and local elites who were otherwise able to confiscate physical cash as it changed hands or traveled.

Apart from the effects of the internet, emerging technologies like additive manufacturing (3D-printing) promise to totally undermine patenting and copyrighting of physical objects. As it becomes cheaper, the need for production lines will become increasingly irrelevant, allowing producers in the home and in business to create products that are the exact likenesses of otherwise costly brands (much like . Perhaps design will experience the same constant creative destruction as in the fashion industry, where only trademarks are protected. Ingenuity has even been able to circumvent bans on research, for example with recent breakthroughs in extracting stem cells from blood reopening potential avenues for future life-saving medical innovations.

The exciting list of innovations is endless, and should give libertarians and others hope for the future. But we need to keep defending creative destruction from those who favour envy and redistribution, as well as acting upon our words. While there is a role for rhetoric, proving the effectiveness of market exchange and innovation by being the entrepreneur is also vital. Thankfully, some have been urging this revolution onwards. Douglas Carswell's new book, The End of Politics and Birth of iDemocracy, for example, reads as a manifesto for citizens freeing themselves of state-imposed hierarchy through sheer ingenuity. So long as our capacity for progress is celebrated, then we will be able to out-innovate the state.



The Liberal Mind

John C. Goodman

Have you ever noticed that people who worry about inequality seem to be focused only on certain kinds of inequality? When they obsess about the income and wealth of the top 1%, they seem to be bothered by only some of those at the top, and not others.

For example, have you ever seen Robert Reich or Paul Krugman or any like-minded complainer bemoan the huge salaries of professional athletes? What about the stratospheric incomes of rock stars? Or movie idols? Or super models?

Even more puzzling, when is the last time you saw any of them assailing worthless heirs? I would guess that a large share of mega gifts to Barack Obama's presidential campaign came from "trust fund babies." These are people who are living (and living well) off the assets created by some deceased capitalist. All too many of the heirs spend a good part of their lives giving personal and foundation money to…well…to promote socialism.

Shouldn't there be a Hall of Shame (and maybe an annual award for the most shameless) to draw attention to the activities of those who use the fruits of capitalism to try to destroy it?

Something else is odd about the sociology of the anti-inequality crowd. They seem to be unfazed by inequality created by government.

Take the recent Powerball outcome. At $588 million, it was the largest lottery prize in history ? to be shared by two ticketholders. In essence, hundreds of millions of dollars are being transferred from mostly low-income families in order to create a few super rich individuals. As I wrote previously:
I can't think of any single act of government that creates more inequality than the lottery — at least per dollar raised and spent. Think about it. Thousands of (mostly below-average income) people buy tickets and, after the drawing, one of them becomes immensely wealthy…

I can't think of anything in the private sector that even begins to compare to this reverse Robin Hood redistribution from the poor to the rich and the nouveau riche. And remember, in order to pull it off, government first has to establish a monopoly, keeping private competitors (who would at least raise the poor bettor's expected return) out of the market.
Then there is the entire structure of elderly entitlements. They mainly take from people who have less and give to people who have more. Social Security, for example, is funded by a regressive tax on wages and is distributed to the population group that has the lowest poverty rate of all. It's not just Warren Buffett who is on the receiving end. In general, the greater your lifetime income, the larger your monthly benefit. Medicare is also funded by a regressive tax on wages. Although the benefits are supposed to be uniform, in reality the zip codes where the largest Social Security checks are cashed are the places that spend the most on health care for the elderly.

Think about that last finding for a moment. Throughout the country, families who are struggling to get by and who cannot afford to buy their own health insurance are paying 15% of their income to fund hip and knee replacements for our true leisure class, so they can get back out on the golf course.

I suspect you could put a 50% tax on all the professional athlete income above $1 million and it wouldn't change the outcome of a single football game. Similarly, I think you could really sock it to Hollywood and even the idle rich without too much economic harm.

But when Paul Krugman writes about the top 1%, this is not who he has in mind. He is complaining about the incomes of people who run large companies. He wants their tax rate to be 91%!

I think Ayn Rand may have been right. The left is populated by people who are not especially bothered by those who become wealthy by virtue of birth or luck or good fortune. They do not even seem to be bothered by the winner-take-all feature of professional sports that confers millions of dollars on some athletes while those who were almost as good languish in near poverty. No, who they obsess about are the creators, the builders, the entrepreneurs.

They don't hate the wealthy who don't deserve their wealth. They hate the wealthy who do deserve it.

Postscript: an exception to what I have just written is Joe Nocera, an economics writer for The New York Times. Last Saturday, he wrote:
[L]otteries may well be the single most insidious way that state governments raise money. Many of the people who buy lottery tickets are poor; lotteries are essentially a form of regressive taxation. The odds against winning a big jackpot are astronomical — far worse than the odds at an Atlantic City slot machine. The get-rich-quick marketing — by government, let's not forget — is offensive.




UK: MPs call for drugs decriminalization system:  "The government is being urged by MPs to closely consider a system of drugs de-criminalisation pioneered in Portugal. The Home Affairs Committee said it was impressed with the approach to cutting drug use where people found with small amounts are not always prosecuted. It also asks ministers to monitor the effects of cannabis legalisation in other parts of the world. The Home Office rejected its call for a Royal Commission on UK drugs policy, saying that was 'not necessary.'"

Belarus: Lukashenko introduces forced employment:  "Belarus' authoritarian president, Alexander Lukashenko, has decided to stem an exodus of qualified workers to Russia, starting by banning those who work in wood-processing industries from quitting. Critics have compared the measure to serfdom and warned that it would only deepen the former Soviet republic's economic troubles and fuel protests against Lukashenko."

Higher Medicare age means lower quality of life:  "It’s almost impossible to believe: With the private-sector economy struggling and politicians worried about government spending, the biggest proposal on the table is raising the Medicare age to 67. That would take far more out of household budgets than it would save in government spending -- and the savings would be short-lived. What’s more, it would impose terrible hardships on lots of people. Why do the truly terrible ideas always seem to become the really Big Ideas?"

How US economic warfare provoked Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor:  "Many people are misled by formalities. They assume, for example, that the United States went to war against Germany and Japan only after its declarations of war against these nations in December 1941. In truth, the United States had been at war for a long time before making these declarations."

Pearl Harbor: Roosevelt knew:  "Today is the seventy-first anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, an act that brought us into World War II, pushed a reluctant America onto the world stage, and ushered in the age of empire. The official history of that event is that it was a 'sneak attack' precipitated by war-crazed Japanese militarists, and that the totally unprepared Americans -- kept from arming themselves by evil 'isolationists' in Congress and the Republican party -- were caught completely by surprise. There is, however, one big problem with this official history: it’s a lie."

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



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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, December 10, 2012

The West is signing its own death sentence

Capitalism is, by its nature, dynamic. Attempts  to engineer the 'perfect society’ undermine the logic of the free market

Comment from Britain.  George Osborne is Britain's fiscal manager ("Chancellor of the Exchequer")

When the Edward Gibbon of the 22nd century comes to write his History of the Decline and Fall of the West, who will feature in his monumental study of the collapse of the most successful economic experiment in human history? In this saga of the mass suicide of the richest nations on earth, there may be particular reference to those national leaders who chose to deny the reality that was, from the vantage point of our future chronicler, so obviously looming. Or maybe the leadership of our day in Washington, London and Brussels will appear to have been swept helplessly along by irresistible forces that originated before their time.

But for us, right here, right now, it matters that Barack Obama and George Osborne are playing small-time strategic games with their toy-town enemies while the unutterable economic truth stares them in the face. (The political leadership of the EU seems to have passed through the looking glass into a world where the rules of economics do not apply, so their statements and actions are beyond analysis.) Mr Obama is locked in an eye-balling contest with a Republican Congress to see who can end up with more ignominy when the United States goes over the fiscal cliff. It is clear now that the president will be quite happy to bring about this apocalypse – which would pull most of the developed world into interminable recession – if he could be sure that it would result in long-term electoral damage to his opponents.

Meanwhile, Mr Osborne takes teeny-tiny steps in the direction which is the only plausible one: little bitty reductions in the welfare programme to “make work pay” which are barely enough to push those who are actually working in the black economy off the unemployment rolls, and fiddly adjustments (almost too small to notice in day-to-day life) to lessen the burden of tax that bears down on people who are scarcely self-sustaining, let alone prosperous. Supposedly from opposite sides of the political divide, the US president and the British Chancellor come to a surprisingly similar conclusion: it is not feasible to speak the truth, let alone act on it. The truth being, as this column has often said, that present levels of public spending and government intervention in the US, Britain and Europe are unsustainable. The proportion of GDP which is now being spent by the governments of what used to be called the “free world” vastly exceeds what it is possible to raise through taxation without destroying any possibility of creating wealth, and therefore requires either an intolerable degree of national debt or the endless printing of progressively more meaningless money – or both.

How on earth did we get here? As every sane political leader knows by now, this is not just a temporary emergency created by a bizarre fit of reckless lending: the crash of 2008 simply blew the lid off the real scandal of western economic governance. Having won the Cold War and succeeded in settling the great ideological argument of the 20th century in favour of free-market economics, the nations of the West managed to bankrupt themselves by insisting that they could fund a lukewarm form of socialism with the proceeds of capitalism.

What the West took from its defeat of the East was that it must accept the model of the state as social engineer in order to avert any future threat to freedom. Capitalism would only be tolerated if government distributed its wealth evenly across society. The original concept of social security and welfare provision – that no one should be allowed to sink into destitution or real want – had to be revisited. The new ideal was that there should not be inequalities of wealth. The roaring success of the free market created such unprecedented levels of mass prosperity that absolute poverty became virtually extinct in western democracies, so it had to be replaced as a social evil by “relative poverty”. It was not enough that no one should be genuinely poor (hungry and without basic necessities): what was demanded now was that no one should be much worse (or better) off than anyone else. The job of government was to create a society in which there were no significant disparities in earnings or standards of living. So it was not just the unemployed who were given assistance: the low paid had their wages supplemented by working tax credits and in-work benefits so that their earnings could be brought up to the arbitrary level which the state had decided constituted not-poverty.

The paradoxical effect of this is that the only politically acceptable condition is to be earning just enough to maintain independent life – and not a penny more. Everybody is steered by the penalties of the tax system or the gradual withdrawal of benefits into that small space in the middle between being “rich” (earning over about £40,000 a year) and being (relatively) poor. As detailed analysis has made clear, the only group spared by Mr Osborne’s tinkering last week were standard rate tax payers. Neither rich nor unemployed, these paragons are perfect exemplars of “fairness”: surviving on an income which makes life just about bearable but remaining careful always not to allow their aspirations to propel them beyond their station and its acceptable earnings level.

This picture of the perfect society – in which disparities of wealth are eradicated and economic equality is maintained through a vastly complex and expensive system of state intervention – has been the explicit goal of the EU virtually since its inception. It had an on-again, off-again history in Britain until it was locked firmly into the political infrastructure by Gordon Brown. More unexpectedly, it has now taken root in the American political culture, where Mr Obama seems determined to exploit it in his blood-curdling contest with the Republicans. Once ensconced, this concept undermines the logic of the free-market economy which funds it.

Capitalism is, by its nature, dynamic: it creates transitory disparities of wealth constantly as it reinvents itself. Fortunes are made and lost and, as old industries are replaced by new, the earnings that they create rise and fall. Punishing those who exceed some momentary average income and artificially subsidising those who fall below it – as well as providing for a universal standard of living which bears no relation to merit or even to need – has now reached the unavoidable, unaffordable end of the line.

So who will tell the truth – and then act on it? Who will say not just that welfare must be cut, but that in future the NHS will need to rely on a system of co-payments? That people will have to provide for their own retirement because the state pension will be frozen? That without a radical reduction in government intervention, the free and prosperous West will have been a brief historical aberration?



Is America Headed Into An Intentional Recession?

“Mah fellow Americans, inflayshun is ow-uh friend…”

If you can pronounce the phonetic wording above – and if it sounds vaguely familiar – then for better or worse you probably grew up watching “Saturday Night Live” like I did. The line comes from a late 1970’s skit wherein funny guy Dan Aykroyd was impersonating President Jimmy Carter.

During his one term as President, Carter addressed the nation numerous times to try and quell people’s fears about inflation, the economic malady that defined the era. During those years, Carter announced several anti-inflation policy measures. He urged Americans to “tighten their belts” and consume less, in an effort to decrease the demand for goods and services and, therefore, to get prices to decline (consumption, by the way, was actually quite stagnant even as prices rose – hence the problem of “stagflation”). And as he got closer to his re-election date he looked increasingly anxious, as though he was trying to convince Americans that he was doing as well as any President could.

In the midst of this, “Saturday Night Live” delivered the definitive presidential satire. With his impeccable imitation of the President’s “southern gentlemen” accent, Aykroyd – as President Carter – addressed the nation one fine Saturday night and told Americans that “our economy is screwed, blued, and tattooed,” but noted that we could stop fighting the battle against inflation- because “inflation is our friend.”

Aykroyd was hilarious because his character’s statements were absurd - no adult in their right mind and certainly no U.S. President would “embrace inflation” or regard it as a “friend.” President Carter was desperately trying to assure us that he was ending inflation, and Aykroyd’s routine illustrated just how desperately the President was trying to remain in our good favor.

But that was in the 1970’s. Today, just three weeks away from 2013, there is reason to believe that our President and his Administration – and perhaps his party, as a whole – is “embracing” recession, as though it is an appropriate means to a necessary end.

Ron Scherer, Staff Writer at the Christian Science Monitor, was one of the first to catch-on. He noted in a November 30th news story that in the midst of the “fiscal cliff” tax rate negotiations, President Obama had begun to speak on the campaign trail about another $255 billion stimulus package. Scherer surmised that the President was proposing more stimulus spending as a means of “offsetting” the impact of his own proposed tax hikes.

But what, precisely, would need to be “offset,” if President Obama’s agenda prevails? He just completed a successful re-election campaign claiming that raising taxes on “rich people” would be good for the economy, yet it now appears that he wants more stimulus spending as a means of saving our economy from his own economic policies. This would seem to be, at the very least, a tacit admission from the President that raising taxes on individual people – even those awful “rich people” among us – does, indeed cause a slowdown in economic activity, and may very well bring about a recession.

Shortly after the President began his new stimulus push, former Democratic National Committee Chairman (and former presidential candidate) Howard Dean made some extraordinary remarks of his own about the economy. In an interview at MSNBC, Dean stated that he wants the across-the-board income tax increases entailed in the “fiscal cliff” scenario, and welcomed the resulting outcome. “Will it cause a problem?” he asked rhetorically. “Yes. There will be a short recession, and it will be painful.” Yet despite the “painful recession” that will ensue, Dean expressed exuberance for the higher tax rates and the cuts in military spending that will result as well.

In a recession, individuals and families often lose. They often lose jobs, careers, and homes, and sometimes families are torn apart. Governments that truly prioritize the wellbeing of the citizenry, usually try to avoid recessions - for these, and other reasons.

But when governmental leaders prioritize their own power and agenda over and above the wellbeing of the citizens they serve, a “painful recession” is an acceptable means to an end. You and I may lose our home or job in an upcoming Obama recession, but that is of little concern. The President and his party have made it clear that their goal is to control more private wealth, spend that wealth as they see fit, and make the citizenry more dependent on government services.

When I was a kid, it was laughable to think that even the inept President Jimmy Carter was regarding inflation as “our friend.” Today, all Americans should be sobered by the reality that our President may be quite intentionally sending us in to recession, as an acceptable means of accomplishing his objectives.



The Truman Doctrine and Obamacare

"Answered Prayers" was the title of the much-discussed and never-completed last novel of Truman Capote, based on his notion that having one's dearest wish granted can be even more painful that having it never come true.

This new Truman Doctrine is about to be tested in the next months and years for the Democrats. They had their prayers answered in seeing Obamacare pass, seeing it given a pass by John Roberts and then given reprieves anew by the recent election. They now face the ordeal of seeing this huge, complex and unpopular act carried through in the face of its own contradictions, 30 unhappy Republican governors, and the sullen resistance of much of a public that never embraced it and likes it now less than it did before.

What woes could now spring up to haunt them? Here are just a few.

Obama won on the claim we had come through the worst of the crash and recession, and that things would slowly but surely start to improve. But wait for the downturn that's likely to hit when smaller business embark on a new wave of cutbacks, to avoid moving north of Obamacare's 50-employee limit, above which the federal mandates to provide workers with health care kick in. New hires will not happen, full-time employees with benefits will become part-timers without out them, and some jobs may even be axed. For two years, businessmen have postponed their decisions -- now they will make them. Wait until voters find their jobs, their hours cut, their premiums rising, their insurers going out of business and their employers dropping health coverage because of Obamacare.

And wait till the crunch comes on implementation -- which, on the evidence, is not going well so far. Only 14 states have agreed to expand Medicaid since the Supreme Court allowed them to opt out. Only 17 states have committed to run their own insurance exchanges, six want a mixed or state-federal model, and the rest are in no hurry to help things along. The states drag their feet, the Department of Health and Human Services sputters, and you have a mess, which is bound to get even messier. Which is what the liberals fear.

Answered prayer No. 1 was for health care to pass, but it led to the Tea Party, the loss of Democrats' filibuster-proof edge in the Senate and a shattering loss of the House.

Prayer No. 2 was the Supreme Court decision, which also came with the cost-free exception from the expansion of Medicaid, which may lead to a lingering death, not a quick one.

Prayer No. 3 was Obama's re-election, with a substantial attrition in his vote totals. This leaves to Obama the problem of implementing Obamacare in a political climate where Gallup found, for the first time since the question was asked, that voters feel that securing health care for everyone is not the government's obligation.

"What matters now," says pollster Scott Rasmussen, "is not how the law was passed, but how it will be perceived in the future." That is to say, it all depends on how well or how poorly implementation works out.

If all goes smoothly and on schedule, and if costs come down as promised, it will vindicate the Democrats' view that government is the solution. If the opposite happens, which now seems more likely, it will prove that this new Truman Doctrine was right.




List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Forget the Demographics, We Need to Teach the Kids

After last month’s election, I had a series of conversations with friends and family regarding the results, and why they thought President Obama was re-elected despite the deplorable condition of the U.S. economy and his oft-stated positions opposed to any real reforms except for raising taxes – “Ask the rich to pay a little bit more.”

One liberal friend said the parties were basically tied on economics (because the subject is wonky and hard for the average guy to understand) but it was the GOP’s positions on social issues that brought Romney down, specifically abortion and “gay rights.” And similar to Mitt Romney’s post-election explanations, several conservatives blamed giveaways to Democrat constituencies as the cause of his defeat.  Like Bill O’Reilly is fond of saying, people just want “stuff.”

While I may not agree with all the points made by the cross-sample, what was most astonishing were the answers given by the younger folks I talked with – and therein lies the problem for conservatives in turning our political fortunes around.

“Mitt Romney wants to take away women’s rights.”

“I think two people who are in love should be able to get married, and Republicans tell them they can’t.”

“Women should be able to terminate a pregnancy, and it’s nobody else’s business.”

“Obama is cool. Romney’s old.”

Not a single one of them mentioned the Constitution or the role of government. Most of these kids sounded like they’re shaping their political worldview based on what they read on Facebook and Twitter.

I know from observations that most of them know how to use the internet and phones to communicate in just about every way possible, but when asked about the size of the national debt, they don’t have a clue.

From what I can tell, the public education establishment doesn’t really address the issues, either. Kids certainly need the three R’s in order to develop a firm foundation for the future, but what’s getting lost is the ability to think and process the information they’re being given. There’s no requirement for students to challenge the positions of the political establishment – it seems like it’s just a regurgitation of facts and figures.

And to some degree, hero worship (not of the Founding Fathers).

These are not just political issues, these are cultural issues, and conservatives are on the losing end of this up-and-coming generation simply because our side of the story is not being listened to. Granted, there were a few kids in my informal survey who expressed conservative views, but the majority seems to hold the same beliefs as the young lady wearing the Obama sticker seated at a table next to us at a fast-food place on Election Day.

I was sorely tempted to ask her the reasons why she supports Obama, but I suspect I already knew.

Much has been written about the GOP’s demographic obstacles in the upcoming elections, but if the moldable minds of our youth cannot be shaped in a liberty-oriented direction, then it won’t matter much who we put forth as candidates.

I doubt this generation would have warmed to Ronald Reagan if he had been running against someone like Obama. They don’t want to hear about freedom, they want to be comforted with security and notions of “fairness” in social values.

They’re digging their own financial holes before they even get a job – and they don’t even realize it.

Education begins at home. We can’t rely on teachers to provide the ability to think and challenge the status quo. If conservatives are going to make headway in turning around the political arena, the cultural deficit must be filled first.



The Stone Truth: Left-Wingers Are Boring

Jonah Goldberg

When, at long last, will people understand that the left is boring?

The question came to mind as I was dipping in and out of Oliver Stone's miasmic 700-plus-page tome. I'll never read the whole thing, and not because it's a left-wing screed full of slimy distortions about the evils of the United States (though that doesn't help). It's that it's boring.

Stone and co-author Peter Kuznick call their book "The Untold History of the United States," except, again, it isn't. This story has been told countless times before. As the Daily Beast's Michael Moynihan notes in a devastating review, Stone and Kuznick offer no new research, and much of the old research they rely on has been rendered moot by more recent discoveries since the Berlin Wall came down.

Still, what vexes me about the book isn't really the substance. What bothers me is the manufactured rebelliousness, the kitschy nostalgic play-acting of the thing. The 66-year old Stone can be an original filmmaker, but he is a stale old Red when it comes to politics.

In a sense, that fine. We're all entitled to our opinions, even to commit them to paper in book form. But spare me the radical pose. Among the hilarious blurbs is this encomium from the octogenarian radical Daniel Ellsberg. "Howard [Zinn] would have loved this 'people's history' of the American Empire. It's compulsive reading: brilliant, a masterpiece!"

Ellsberg is right about one thing: The late Howard Zinn, a wildly left-wing historian, probably would have loved it -- in no small part because he wrote so much of it already in his decades-old and endlessly recycled "A People's History of the United States."

Zinn's work, along with Noam Chomsky's, Michael Moore's and, now, Stone's, is seen as boldly transgressive and subversive. Intellectually, there's some truth to that of course. If you're dedicated to subverting the free enterprise system and traditional patriotism, then you're a subversive.

I guess what bothers me is the whole pretense that these people are bravely speaking truth to power in some way. Zinn has been on college syllabi for decades. Moore wins Academy Awards and is treated like royalty by the Democratic Party (he sat in Jimmy Carter's suite at the 2004 Democratic Convention). Chomsky has been a fixture on the campus paid-lecture circuit since before I was born.

According to investigative reporter Peter Schweizer, Chomsky, the avowed hater of capitalism, set up a special trust to hide his millions in personal wealth from the taxman. This from the guy who inveighs against a tax code full of "complicated devices for ensuring that the poor -- like 80 percent of the population -- pay off the rich."

Stone, a notorious booster of Cuban socialism, owns numerous properties around the world. During an interview at his Santa Barbara, Calif., Spanish colonial villa, Architectural Digest asked about the contradiction between his anti-capitalist schtick and his lifestyle, he replied that he wouldn't fall for the guilt trip. "That's a Western Christian trip."

The bowel-stewing hypocrisy notwithstanding, what's amazing is how the same dreck is recycled as new, fresh and courageous. Charles Beard's "An Economic Interpretation of the U.S. Constitution" will be 100 years old next year. Its attack on the founders as greedy white men was wrong then, but at least it was relatively original. Today, college kids regurgitate the same nonsense -- and professors applaud their rebelliousness. Except what or whom are they rebelling against? Not the faculty or the administration.

Hackneyed left-wingery is not only treated with respect on campuses (though most mainstream academics aren't as left-wing as Zinn or Stone), it is repackaged daily by Hollywood and celebrated by the mainstream media.

The self-styled rebels of Occupy Wall Street received overwhelmingly positive coverage in the mainstream media in no small part because the liberal press thinks authentic political expression for young people must be left-wing. The regurgitation of hackneyed '60s slogans pleasing to the ears of aging, nostalgia-besotted baby boomers elicits squeals of delight. Meanwhile, Tea Party protests were greeted as dangerous, odd and deserving of hostile journalistic scrutiny.

And yet the kitsch of leftism still works its magic. In huge numbers, young people think they're rebelling when all they're doing is playing their assigned part and lending energy and, often, votes to a stale, regimented form of statist liberalism that often disappoints and never satisfies.

I don't expect young people to become conservatives, though if you want to see a true rebel on campus, seek out the pro-life Christians. But is libertarianism really too much to ask? Championing economic liberty will tick off your professors, and you can still be a libertine on weekends. And if you get rich, you won't be a hypocrite for defending your villa.



Hey, Fat Cat Unions: Pay Your "Fair Share"

Michelle Malkin
Message for wealth-bashing millionaire actor Ed Asner: Man up and take responsibility for lying to America's schoolchildren.
Confronted by a producer for Fox News Channel's "The Sean Hannity Show" this week, the left-wing celebrity claimed he couldn't remember "a thing (he) said" on a vile propaganda video produced and published by the California Federation of Teachers. Asner narrated the unforgettable eight-minute anti-capitalist screed geared toward children.

Think Occupy Wall Street meets Sesame Street. "Things go downhill in a happy and prosperous land after the rich decide they don't want to pay taxes anymore," Asner warbles in a folksy grandpa voice. After education reform journalist Kyle Olson of blew the whistle on the film's vulgar cartoon depiction of a "rich" man urinating on the "poor," the teachers union whitewashed the animated images from the video.

While the Occupy-cheerleading teachers have to concoct such fantasy scenes, informed Americans remember that it was the Occupiers themselves who openly defecated in the streets. What's even more grossly comical is the sight of pampered Asner shilling for the "progressive" war on prosperity while ignoring Big Labor's own self-serving evasion of their "fair share" in taxes.

The California Federation of Teachers, an AFL-CIO affiliate that rakes in an estimated $22 million in coerced dues, enjoys nonprofit, tax-exempt 501(c)(5) status. So does CFT's larger counterpart, the California Teachers Association, which collects a whopping $300 million in annual dues. While they burn through mountains of dues lobbying for everyone else to pay higher taxes, these Democratic partisan heavies pay nothing in either federal or state income taxes. Zero, zip, nada. In theory, the unions are entitled to this special status because their "primary" purpose is to "secure better working conditions, wages and similar benefits" for their members.

In practice, of course, the unions are Democratic Party front groups that shovel hundreds of millions of dollars to liberal causes and candidates -- against the will of their rank-and-file members and often without their knowledge.

Mark Levin's ever-vigilant Landmark Legal Foundation has pressured the Internal Revenue Service for more than a decade to force national teachers unions to file proper federal reporting and IRS statements regarding their hidden political expenditures. (The overwhelmingly Democratic donations are not tax-exempt.) As a result of Landmark's investigative work, the Wisconsin Education Association admitted in 2006 that it had failed to pay more than $171,000 in federal taxes on Democratic political expenditures.

Given the immense difficulty that dissenting teachers across the country have had in challenging the abuse of their dues for political purposes, it's clear this is the tip of Big Labor's tax-evasion iceberg.

In addition, the national parent organizations of the CFT and CTA also benefit from widespread property tax exemptions on their ownership of lavish real estate used for union brass vacations and retreats. Fox Business Network reporter Elizabeth MacDonald's investigation of IRS records earlier this year shed light on several tax-sheltered, union-owned luxury hotels, golf courses and country clubs -- including the "swanky" AFL-CIO-owned Westin Diplomat resort in Florida and the UAW's $33 million lakeside resort and golf club in Onaway, Mich.

"What the documents don't show," FBN noted, "is whether union members like teachers, firemen and cops get invited to these junkets -- or even approve of or know about the use of their dues to outright buy and run resorts, or spend on junkets, among other things."

Then there's the Obamacare Cadillac tax exemption for unions. Delivered behind closed doors and out of sight of C-SPAN cameras, the Obama White House cut a lucrative sweetheart deal with AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union and other labor groups to shield them from the federal health care mandate's steep 40 percent excise tax on high-cost health care plans. The 90 percent of Americans who don't belong to unions and participate in these plans must pay their "fair share" beginning in 2013.

But Big Labor's cozy Cadillac tax escape clause is effective until 2018. Even after that deadline, union dental and vision plans will remain exempt. The cost? $60 billion in foregone tax revenue.

Who are the greedy, selfish, filthy-rich tax evaders pissing on the poor and politically unconnected now?




Marines admitting mistreatment of Manning:  "An Army private charged with sending reams of classified documents to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks was wrongly kept on suicide watch for at least seven days of his nine months' confinement at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., the Marines' chief of corrections testified Wednesday. Chief Warrant Officer 5 Abel Galaviz also said Pfc. Bradley Manning shouldn't have been stripped of all clothing during a period when he wasn't on suicide watch. And he said a board that made confinement recommendations to the brig commander used improper procedures that called into question the panel's objectivity." [This is a disgrace to the Marines.  They have hurt themselves more than Manning did]

Atheist West Point cadet quits  -- angrily:  "Blake Page, a senior at West Point, has announced he will leave the military academy to protest what he says is unconstitutional proselytizing by officers and discrimination against non-religious cadets.  To call attention to his move, senior Blake Page wrote a scathing commentary on West Point, published Monday in the Huffington Post.   "Countless officers here and throughout the military are guilty of blatantly violating the oaths they swore to defend the Constitution," wrote Page, who was slated to graduate in May. "These men and women are criminals, complicit in light of day defiance of the Uniform Code of Military Justice through unconstitutional proselytism, discrimination against the non-religious and establishing formal policies to reward, encourage and even at times require sectarian religious participation."  [This kid must have other issues.  What is wrong or difficult about bowing your head in respect while others pray?  I have often done so although I too am an atheist.  If that's the hardest thing for you to do, you shouldn't be in the army]

Does the state have “rights” to protect?:  "The doctrine of 'compelling state interest' has an evil origin. The Supreme Court created this so-called 'balancing test' in 1944 to justify the criminal arrest and imprisonment of thousands of innocent Japanese-Americans. Everyone agrees that this was a dark stain on American history. Reparations were eventually paid to the Japanese-Americans who were interned or to their heirs. But the original sin that enabled this heinous act spread to nearly every part of the U.S. Constitution. The 1944 Court dared to assert that it could balance the 'interests' of The State against the rights of individuals."

Security obsession drives 100 scientists from NASA:  "Everyone who wanted to continue doing space science at JPL was told they had to submit to a security investigation. The cost of this idiocy, which was aggressively pursued to a final Pyrrhic victory in the High Court by the Obama Department of Justice, has been grievous, as some 100 veteran scientists at JPL have quit or taken early retirement, rather than open their lives to the FBI."



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)