Friday, January 11, 2013
America's untouchable Leftist aristocracy
Suffering the consequences of hypocrisy is usually reserved for public figures on the political right. The mere rumors of infidelity dissolved Herman Cain’s presidential nomination viability. It is easy to recall famous conservatives who have fallen from grace for not living up to a personal standard. But it is harder to remember the name of a disgraced liberal. The impeachment of Bill Clinton over a substantiated sexual affair seemed to take no more of a toll on his political capital than if he were a French prime minister.
Hypocrisy is simply a matter of common human imperfection. Most of us who pursue a high-minded standard inevitably do fall short. But within the intrinsic position of liberal is a rejection of traditional standards of behavior. So public figures on the left are less likely to agree to being held accountable to some high watermark. Easy.
But it seems that in light of recent election successes, the liberal elite has emerged with a new ennobling status free from the obligations that they themselves have imposed on the masses. Now, I am not talking about the left-wing rank and file. That growing segment of the American electorate has voluntarily exchanged civil freedom for civic security.
But there emerges a new nobility, a special caste of liberal who holds status as an elected official, Hollywood superstar or business tycoon. Examples include conflicted American characters such as Warren Buffett, Rosie O’Donnell, and Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
Nebraska’s lovable and quirky billionaire Warren Buffett is known for having an unquestionable knack for effective investing. In both of the past two elections, Buffett strongly supported Barack Obama for President. He even supplied Obama with the silly campaign issue known as the “Buffett Rule.” Warren Buffett could have readily subjected his own personal compensation to the higher withholding tax rates by simply paying himself a salary rather than recognizing his income as capital gains. But so far, Mr. Buffett continues to maintain a personal tax rate that is about half that of his famously salaried secretary.
But what really qualifies Mr. Buffett for membership in the new bourgeoisie are his fight to avoid paying the one billion dollars in taxes that he owes and his influence on President Obama to put a stop to the development of the Keystone oil pipeline project. One would think that a businessman like Buffett would welcome the tens of thousands of new jobs that Keystone would have generated in the U.S. However, a Keystone pipeline would potentially have cost Buffett’s company over $2 million per day in lost revenue by competing with his existing rail transportation of oil.
Rosie O’Donnell joins Warren Buffett in the new bourgeoisie club with her position on personal gun ownership. During a broadcast of her talk show, O’Donnell announced her position on the matter, "You are not allowed to own a gun, and if you do own a gun, I think you should go to prison." One year later, O’Donnell found herself having to defend the public news that her bodyguard had applied for a concealed weapons permit at the Greenwich, Connecticut Police Department. “[My bodyguard] has the right as a person who’s residing in Connecticut a lot of the time due to his work with me to request to carry a gun. … He’s an individual and he works for a security firm,” O’Donnell told Today host Katie Couric.
But Rosie doesn’t hold a candle to R.C. Soles, a Democratic State Senator whom the National Association for Gun Rights called, “one of the most outspoken anti-gun legislators in North Carolina.” In many states, defending one’s home from an intruder with a firearm is a legally acceptable response. Evidently, this is not the environment that Senator Soles has worked to establish in North Carolina. Soles shot 22-year-old Kyle Blackburn in the leg, claiming that he was acting in self-defense after Blackburn and another man tried to kick in the door of his home. Senator Soles has been indicted on a felony charge of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious bodily injury.
Eduardo Saverin is one of the founding principles of Facebook and is estimated to be receiving over three billion dollars from the company’s initial public offering. While Saverin, a 4% original owner, has not played the same high profile role in supporting Barack Obama’s elections as his Harvard classmates, it is generally assumed that he is cut from the same idealistic cloth. But Saverin has had a change of heart about coughing up capital gains on $3 Billion. So much so that he decided to denounce his U.S. citizenship and vanish John Galt style to Singapore. This clever accounting move not only saves Saverin tens of millions in taxes, it also jiggles the handle of Democratic senators who really want that money. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) is threatening pursuit and banishment, stating “We aren't going to let him get away with it."
The emergence of the new bourgeoisie is the natural response from the segment of well-to-do liberals who have sponsored the imposition of a new code for commoners. While these folks may appear to be hypocrites, it was never their intent that they should be subjected to the same personal limitations appointed to the common caste. Remember that the same Joe Biden whom President Obama just assigned to develop gun control proposals said of fellow candidate Obama in 2008, “I guaranty ya, Barack Obama ain’t takin’ my shotgun!”
Fascism In America
It is often argued by critics of the Obama administration that it is socialistic, i.e. expanding governmental authority over the means of producing and distributing goods. Alas, there is something to be said for this point of view. As I see it, however, a more accurate way to describe the Obama government is corporatism or a political system in which the principal economic functions are designated and given favorable treatment. The most appropriate way to assign meaning to this phenomenon is fascism.
During the Nazi period firms such as Mercedes Benz and Krupp Steel was given tax advantages and privileges denied other German companies. Not only did these companies favor Hitler's regime, but they were favored by the regime. This inextricable nexus benefited both parties since privilege was conferred by government which in turn bought political and economic support.
The recent U.S. government deal to avert the fiscal cliff by legislating income tax and capital gains hikes obscured another part of the arrangement: 75 special interest tax breaks - a list of corporate interests that receive tax perks and are not publicly revealed. Nonetheless, some of this special treatment has leaked.
For example, there is an accelerated tax write off for owners of Nascar tracks. There is a tax credit for companies operating in American Samoa, including the StarKist factory owned by Nancy Pelosi's husband. Distillers received a $222 million rum tax rebate. Most notable, film and television producers can expense the first $15 million of production costs incurred in the United States. This Hollyood special will cost the taxpayers $430 million over the next year. It obviously paid for Hollywood to back President Obama in the last campaign.
As one might guess, renewable energy in the form of wind and algae received $2 billion of credit even though the nation is going through a natural gas drilling boom. The more one is green, the more green bucks flow. Needless to contend, the total cost will be far greater than these estimates. And even though the stock market hasn't yet revealed its sentiments about this shady deal, this misallocated capital will assuredly slow economic growth.
The question that remains puzzling is the silence of the left about this corporate welfare scheme. Where are the voices of indignation? What happened to the outspoken Occupy Wall Street crowd? Does Obama get a pass for his soothing rhetoric?
Even if one believes tax increases on "the rich," those earning over $450,000, is warranted there certainly isn't a constituency for corporate greed. On the one hand, the administration acknowledges dramatically increased expenditures that must be curbed; on the other hand, it maintains expenditures be damned. Designated friends of the Obama government deserve special treatment because they supported him when he needed their help. If this isn't a classic display of fascism, what is it?
Since the word fascism evokes fear and anger, it is rarely used. But as I see it, the word does describe what is going on. This goes beyond "crony capitalism;" in fact, it doesn't resemble capitalism. In this system markets don't work at all; it is who you know and the kind of influence you can exert.
It is not coincidental that the Obama administration pushed aside the primary bond holders of General Motors in an effort to give the Union of Automobile Workers (UAW) effective control of the company. In this instance, as in so many other cases, the president secured the votes he needed for reelection. The union did not forget what he did for them.
This kind of corporatism eats away at the public confidence in government. After the bill was struck, the president had the temerity to praise the legislation by noting: "further reforms to our tax code so that the wealthiest corporations and individuals can't take advantage of loopholes and deductions that aren't available to most Americans." By any interpretation this is a bald faced lie. The special privileges granted designated corporations represent the loopholes and deductions unavailable to the rest of Americans.
Where is Orwell when you need him? In this administration you say the opposite of what you do. Count on public ignorance to promote the fraud. Speak the language of FDR and apply the principles of Bonnie and Clyde. The public may not realize it, but this fiscal cliff deal makes it clear that fascism has come to America.
A Man's Home Is His Subsidy
The Obama administration now proposes to spend millions more on handouts, despite ample evidence of their perverse effects.
Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says, "The single most important thing HUD does is provide rental assistance to America's most vulnerable families -- and the Obama administration is proposing bold steps to meet their needs." They always propose "bold steps."
In this case, HUD wants to spend millions more to renew Section 8 housing vouchers that help poor people pay rent.
The Section 8 program ballooned during the '90s to "solve" a previous government failure: crime-ridden public housing. Rent vouchers allow the feds to disperse tenants from failed projects into private residencies. There, poor people would learn good habits from middle-class people.
It was a reasonable idea. But, as always, there were unintended consequences.
"On paper, Section 8 seems like it should be successful," says Donald Gobin, a Section 8 landlord in New Hampshire. "But unless tenants have some unusual fire in their belly, the program hinders upward mobility."
Gobin complains that his tenants are allowed to use Section 8 subsides for an unlimited amount of time. There is no work requirement. Recipients can become comfortably dependent on government assistance.
In Gobin's over 30 years of renting to Section 8 tenants, he has seen only one break free of the program. Most recipients stay on Section 8 their entire lives. They use it as a permanent crutch.
Government's rules kill the incentive to succeed.
Section 8 handouts are meant to be generous enough that tenants may afford a home defined by HUD as decent, safe and sanitary. In its wisdom, the bureaucracy has ruled that "decent, safe and sanitary" may require subsidies as high as $2,200 per month. But because of that, Section 8 tenants often get to live in nicer places than those who pay their own way.
Kevin Spaulding is an MIT graduate in Boston who works long hours as an engineer, and struggles to cover his rent and student loans. Yet all around him, he says, he sees people who don't work but live better than he does.
"It doesn't seem right," he says. "I work very hard but can only afford a lower-end apartment. There are nonworking people on my street who live in better places than I do because they are on Section 8."
Spaulding understands why his neighbors don't look for jobs. The subsidies are attractive -- they cover 70 to 100 percent of rent and utilities. If Section 8 recipients accumulate money or start to make more, they lose their subsidy.
"Is there a real incentive for the tenants to go to work? No!" says Gobin. "They have a relatively nice house and do not have to pay for it."
Once people are reliant on Section 8 assistance, many do everything in their power to keep it. Some game the system by working under the table so that they do not lose the subsidy. One of Gobin's lifetime Section 8 tenants started a cooking website. She made considerable money from it, so she went to great lengths to hide the site from her case manager, running it under a different name.
"Here's a lady that could definitely work. She actually showed me how to get benefits and play the system," says Gobin.
Although Section 8 adds to our debt while encouraging people to stay dependent, it isn't going away. HUD says it will continue to "make quality housing possible for every American."
Despite $20 billion spent on the program last year, demand for more rental assistance remains strong. There is a long waitlist to receive Section 8 housing in every state. In New York City alone, 120,000 families wait.
Some are truly needy, but many recipients of income transfers are far from poor.
America will soon be $17 trillion in debt, and our biggest federal expense is income transfers. They are justified on the grounds that some of that helps the needy. But we don't help the needy by encouraging dependency.
Government grows. Dependency grows.
Leftist America: Obama Opponents 'A--Holes'
This week's column is brought to you by the word "a--holes." It's one of the left's favorite words these days, fond as they are of shutting down the debate and casting their political opponents out like lepers.
Take, for example, the website Gawker. The website is liberal. And as liberal Obama backers, they feel the necessity not only to support the Obama agenda, but also silence those on the other side through bully tactics. Hence their decision this week to publish a full list of all the registered gun owners in New York City. The title of their big reveal: "Here Is a List of All The A--holes Who Own Guns in New York City." That's an inaccurate title, of course -- the worst people who own guns in New York City likely own them illegally. But it fits with the leftist conceit that those who disagree on gun policy are just bad people.
It's not just gun owners who are "a--holes" according to the left. This week, restaurant chain Wendy's announced that they would have to cut back worker hours in order to preserve their employment thanks to additional costs imposed by Obamacare. This, of course, is basic economics -- when you impose additional costs on a business, they have to cut back. But to the left, reality is a mere inconvenience. If you experience additional costs from the vaunted Obamacare program, you're supposed to lift your chin and soldier on, even if it means bankruptcy.
And so ultra-thug Dan Savage tweeted, "A--holes: Wendy's Cuts Employee hrs. to Part-Time 2 Avoid Obamacare." Savage is, amazingly enough, one of President Obama's anti-bullying czars -- he runs the It Gets Better Project, which is closely associated with the White House. He also bullies conservatives routinely. When Chick-Fil-A's ownership turned out to be pro-traditional marriage, Savage tried to redefine Chick-Fil-A to mean a graphically perverse sexual act; he did the same with Rick Warren's Saddleback Church after Warren expressed his opposition to same-sex marriage; he did the same with Rick Santorum's name after Santorum had the gall to speak out for traditional notions of heterosexual marriage. Savage has also berated Christian students for walking out on one of his anti-Christian screeds and suggested that politicians with whom he disagrees should be murdered.
Savage wasn't the only one taking on Wendy's for failing to magically exempt itself from the laws of economics. Potty-mouth comedienne Sarah Silverman tweeted, "What lame period faces." And Nathan Fillion's of "Firefly" fame wrote, "I just boycotted Wendy's. And broke up with Wendy. Via tweet."
Leave aside the fact that the leftist solution to Wendy's cutting back hours is to cut their profit margin even further, forcing them to fire people. Focus instead on the morality play leftists shoehorn into the Wendy's scenario: greedy corporation wants to avoid helping people get health care, and so cuts back their hours. Again, the leftist position rests on the thuggish notion that those on the other side are morally inferior to them.
The truth is that the left is morally inferior when it plays these games. Instead of looking for actual solutions to problems of crime and murder and bankruptcy, leftists prefer to grandstand. It makes them feel good to label those who oppose their agenda "a--holes," even if it doesn't save lives. It makes them feel good to rip Wendy's rather than Obamacare, because you don't win points for backing business -- but you do win points for slandering business in the name of the collective.
The left has become a collection of bullies, knee-jerk moralists without the morality. They aren't interested in the best policy. They're just interested in the glow they feel when they self-perceive as having defended a "victimized group." Too bad the only real victims are those who end up on the short end of their insulting cretinism.
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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)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.
Posted by JR at 1:40 AM