Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Fact-Free Liberals

Thomas Sowell

Someone summarized Barack Obama in three words -- "educated," "smart" and "ignorant." Unfortunately, those same three words would describe all too many of the people who come out of our most prestigious colleges and universities today.

President Obama seems completely unaware of how many of the policies he is trying to impose have been tried before, in many times and places around the world, and have failed time and again. Economic equality? That was tried in the 19th century, in communities set up by Robert Owen, the man who coined the term "socialism." Those communities all collapsed.

It was tried even earlier, in 18th century Georgia, when that was a British colony. People in Georgia ended up fleeing to other colonies, as many other people would vote with their feet in the 20th century, by fleeing many other societies around the world that were established in the name of economic equality.

But who reads history these days? Moreover, those parts of history that would undermine the vision of the left -- which prevails in our education system from elementary school to postgraduate study -- are not likely to get much attention.

The net results are bright people, with impressive degrees, who have been told for years how brilliant they are, but who are often ignorant of facts that might cause them to question what they have been indoctrinated with in schools and colleges.

Recently Kirsten Powers repeated on Fox News Channel the discredited claim that women are paid only about three-quarters of what a man is paid for doing the same work.

But there have been empirical studies, going back for decades, showing that there is no such gap when the women and men are in the same occupation, with the same skills, experience, education, hours of work and continuous years of full-time work.

Income differences between the sexes reflect the fact that women and men differ in all these things -- and more. Young male doctors earn much more than young female doctors. But young male doctors work over 500 hours a year more than young female doctors.

Then there is the current hysteria which claims that people in the famous "top one percent" have incomes that are rising sharply and absorbing a wholly disproportionate share of all the income in the country.

But check out a Treasury Department study titled "Income Mobility in the U.S. from 1996 to 2005." It uses income tax data, showing that people who were in the top one percent in 1996 had their incomes fall -- repeat, fall -- by 26 percent by 2005.

What about the other studies that seem to say the opposite? Those are studies of income brackets, not studies of the flesh-and-blood human beings who are moving from one bracket to another over time. More than half the people who were in the top one percent in 1996 were no longer there in 2005.

This is hardly surprising when you consider that their incomes were going down while there was widespread hysteria over the belief that their incomes were going up.

Empirical studies that follow income brackets over time repeatedly reach opposite conclusions from studies that follow individuals. But people in the media, in politics and even in academia, cite statistics about income brackets as if they are discussing what happens to actual human beings over time.

All too often when liberals cite statistics, they forget the statisticians' warning that correlation is not causation. For example the New York Times crusaded for government-provided prenatal care, citing the fact that black mothers had prenatal care less often than white mothers -- and that there were higher rates of infant mortality among blacks.

But was correlation causation? American women of Chinese, Japanese and Filipino ancestry also had less prenatal care than whites -- and lower rates of infant mortality than either blacks or whites.

When statistics showed that black applicants for conventional mortgage loans were turned down at twice the rate for white applicants, the media went ballistic crying racial discrimination. But whites were turned down almost twice as often as Asian Americans -- and no one thinks that is racial discrimination.

Facts are not liberals' strong suit. Rhetoric is.



Obama Outlaws Conservative Free Speech

In 2010 millions of American tea-party constitutionalists, to include the GOP’s Christian base, united in a remarkable grass-roots effort to rein in our unbridled federal government and return it to its expressly limited constitutional confines. As a result, an unprecedented number of counter-constitutionalist lawmakers (read: liberal Democrats) were swept from office.

The Obama administration wasn’t going to take this lying down. Whether it was by tacit approval or via direct order remains largely immaterial. The president quickly and unlawfully politicized the Internal Revenue Service, using it as a weapon against his political enemies. In an explosive scandal that continues to grow, the Obama IRS was caught – smoking gun in hand – intentionally targeting conservative and Christian organizations and individuals for harassment, intimidation and, ultimately, for political destruction.

Not only has Obama faced zero accountability for these arguably impeachable offenses, he has since doubled down. With jaw-dropping gall, his administration has now moved to officially weaponize the IRS against conservatives once and for all.

Despite the furor over the IRS assault on conservative groups leading up to the 2012 elections, this man – a despotic radical who’s turned our constitutional republic into one of the banana variety – has quietly released a proposed set of new IRS regulations that, if implemented, will immediately, unlawfully and permanently muzzle conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations and their individual employees. (The 501(c)(4) designation refers to the IRS code section under which social welfare organizations are regulated).

The new regulations would unconstitutionally compel a 90-day blackout period during election years in which conservative 501(c)(4) organizations – such as tea-party, pro-life and pro-family groups – would be banned from mentioning the name of any candidate for office, or even the name of any political party.

Here’s the kicker: As you may have guessed, liberal lobbying groups like labor unions and trade associations are deliberately exempted. And based on its partisan track record, don’t expect this president’s IRS to lift a finger to scrutinize liberal 501(c)(4)s. Over at a Obama’s “Organizing for America,” the left-wing political propaganda will, no doubt, flow unabated.

These Orwellian regulations will prohibit conservative 501(c)(4) organizations from using words like “oppose,” “vote,” or “defeat.” Their timing, prior to a pivotal election, is no coincidence and provides yet another example of Obama’s using the IRS for “progressive” political gain.

Although these restrictions only apply to 501(c)(4) organizations for now, under a straightforward reading, they will also clearly apply to 501(c)(3) organizations in the near future.

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel Action – one of the many conservative organizations to be silenced – commented on the breaking scandal: “One of the core liberties in our constitutional republic is the right to dissent,” he said. “But desperate to force his radical agenda on the American people, Barack Obama and his chosen political tool, the IRS, are now trying to selectively abridge this right, effectively silencing their political adversaries.”

Specifically, here’s what the proposed regulations would do to conservative groups and their leaders:

Prohibit using words like “oppose,” “vote,” “support,” “defeat,” and “reject.”

Prohibit mentioning, on its website or on any communication (email, letter, etc.) that would reach 500 people or more, the name of a candidate for office, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.

Prohibit mentioning the name of a political party, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election, if that party has a candidate running for office.

Prohibit voter registration drives or conducting a non-partisan “get-out-the-vote drive.”

Prohibit creating or distributing voter guides outlining how incumbents voted on particular bills.

Prohibit hosting candidates for office at any event, including debates and charitable fundraisers, 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before the general election, if the candidate is part of the event’s program.

Restrict employees of such organizations from volunteering for campaigns.

Prohibit distributing any materials prepared on behalf a candidate for office.

Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to publicly speak about incumbents, legislation, and/or voting records.

Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to make public statements regarding the nomination of judges.



Obamacare At ‘Significant’ Risk of ‘Death Spiral,’ Economist Warns

Economist John Goodman, who warned last October that Obamacare could plunge into a “death spiral” if not enough young, healthy people signed up for coverage, says that danger is now “significant” following news that the Obama administration failed to hit its young adult enrollment target.
“I think there is a significant problem here,” Goodman, president and CEO of the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA), told “I think the insurers are worried. I think the administration is worried.

“Remember, everybody is facing the wrong price. And sick people are facing a price that’s well below the cost of their care. Young healthy people are being overcharged. And so they need lots of young healthy people to join so they can get the money to pay the bills for the sick people. And the younger people just aren’t buying it.

“Part of the problem, I think, is that it’s been so difficult for people to sign up, and so the only ones who’ve persevered – sometimes trying a hundred times – are people who really have serious health problems.”

A death spiral - the insurance pool equivalent of bankruptcy - occurs when too many older and sicker people sign up for insurance relative to the number of younger, healthier people, Goodman explained, forcing everybody’s premiums up. But as premiums rise, even less young people sign up for coverage.

“That’s what we’re seeing so far,” Goodman told “Over half of all the people who enrolled are above the age of 45, and older people are more expensive [to insure]. We’re also seeing 20 percent of the people who are enrolling are going for the gold or platinum plans. Those people tend to be sick. They’re buying the more comprehensive plans because they plan to use a lot of health care.”

According to figures released this week by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, only 24 percent of the 2.2 million people who have already signed up for Obamacare are between the ages of 18 and 34, just a little more than half of the 40 percent  the administration admitted it needed to keep premiums affordable.

When asked Goodman how Americans would know if the system was crashing, he replied:

“Well, there won’t be any neon signs that say ‘Death Spiral Underway,’ but what you’ll see is premiums keep rising, and if premiums keep rising, then fewer healthy people will buy in and we may get to a point where you need government subsidies to prop the whole thing up. By that I mean government subsidies to the insurance companies.” asked Goodman whether he agreed with Washington  Post columnist Ezra Klein, who argues that “the risk of a ‘death spiral’ is over.” He replied:

“Well, no, and it turns out that 80 percent of all the people who signed up so far are getting subsidies. Well, they need lots of people who have higher incomes and who aren’t going to get subsidies. And if those people are unwilling to pay the high premiums that are being charged, then they’re in trouble. …Everybody is worried, and no one’s keeping the fact that they’re worried a secret,” Goodman added.

Obamacare’s “perverse incentives” will just encourage more young people to “game the system and wait until they get sick before they enroll,” he said, while insurance companies “try to avoid the sick” to protect their bottom lines. But that will be increasingly hard to do as tens of thousands of government retirees are dumped into the exchanges.

“Over the next three months, the federal government will end its risk pool and all the state governments will end theirs, and then all those people who are high-cost enrollees, they will go into the exchanges. And then there are cities and towns like Detroit, that have made promises of post-retirement care and they’re not funded, and so Detroit’s planning on sending all of its retirees to the exchange, and lots of other cities will do the same thing….”

“And then the Obama administration’s apparently going to allow hospitals and AIDS clinics to enroll people on the spot,” Goodman told “So if a hospital had a patient who’s having heart surgery, for example, that hospital is going to be able to get him enrolled in a private plan in the exchange to shift the cost over to that insurer. Apparently the hospital can actually pay the premium for the individual.

“You see, the premium is small compared to that hospital bill. So if we’re talking about a $50,000 hospital bill, they can afford to pay a $10,000 premium and come out ahead. So insurers are sort of quite vulnerable at the moment.”

However, if Obamacare does go belly up, there will be no easy way to replace it, Goodman warned. “We have destroyed the individual market, and it’s going to be very, very hard to move from where we are now to a real market, where people face real prices, which is what I think we have to do,” he said.

“Republicans who say we’re just going to abolish Obamacare need to be aware of the fact that they can’t just go back to the individual market, because it’s being destroyed. We need to think carefully about how we can get out of the mess we’re in, [because] just repealing the legislation isn’t going to be enough.”



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