Friday, October 02, 2015

A kinder era of politics? Whom are the British Leftist leader and his hate-filled acolytes trying to kid?

How dangerous is Jeremy Corbyn? Needless to say, his ecstatic supporters think he is practically saintly. But even some Tories believe that, though the new leader of the Labour Party is obviously wrong-headed, on the whole he seems quite a decent bloke.

Even I found myself thinking this during parts of Mr Corbyn’s conference speech on Tuesday afternoon when he repeated again and again that all he wanted in life was ‘kinder politics, and a more caring society’. Don’t we all?

He may be economically illiterate — so I reflected as he roamed his way through a number of his pet subjects — but he doesn’t look as though he could hurt a fly, and despite everything his heart appears to be roughly in the right place.

If I have been lulled, even momentarily, into thinking such things, it shows how fantastically successful Mr Corbyn and his allies have been in re-branding themselves as cuddly, consensual and basically harmless. They have embarked on the mother of all con-tricks, and their intended dupes are the electorate.

The central article of faith of the Corbynistas is that the British people hate extremism, and they must therefore do everything they can to airbrush out — or, if absolutely necessary, repudiate — any examples of fanaticism in their past, and to avoid saying or doing anything in the future that might alarm the voters.

Thus John McDonnell, the silver-haired Shadow Chancellor, warned us on Monday morning to expect a very boring speech from him later that day in which he would come across as an old-fashioned bank manager. He was trying to make himself sound as unthreatening as possible.

But Mr McDonnell is an extremist. In 2003, which is not very long ago, he said that it was ‘about time’ we started ‘honouring’ IRA terrorists. He recently apologised if he gave any offence, but actually one can’t disown such statements. He was a 51-year-old man when he said it, not a wide-eyed teenage radical, and he was plainly expressing deeply held views.

In 2010, he publicly admitted that he would like to ‘go back to the 1980s and assassinate Thatcher’. I very much doubt that this was intended as a joke, but even if it was, it carried with it something nasty and unpleasant and fundamentally undemocratic.

As for Mr Corbyn, however light-hearted and mild-mannered his performance was on Tuesday, he has spent too much time with men of violence for it to be written off as an accident. One of his first acts as an MP was to invite Gerry Adams, then president of the IRA’s political wing, to the House of Commons in 1984, a fortnight after the terrorist organisation had tried to blow up Margaret Thatcher and the rest of the Cabinet, killing five people in the process.

Doesn’t this association (which was continued) with Adams, who had abjured the ballot box, tell us something very important about Mr Corbyn? I would say the same about his hobnobbing with members of Hamas and Hezbollah, terrorist organisations committed to the destruction of the State of Israel.

It is perfectly legitimate to believe passionately in a united Ireland or a Palestinian State. What is so disturbing about Mr Corbyn is his habitual fraternisation with people who have tried to achieve these outcomes through violent means.

Now he has the effrontery to burble on about kindness and caring, and it may be tempting to take this seemingly gentle and self-deprecating man at face value. Tempting — but very stupid.

Incidentally, his contrivance of gentleness was briefly undermined quite early in the leadership campaign when he was forensically questioned by Krishnan Guru-Murthy of Channel Four News about his ‘friends’ at Hamas. For a moment the easy-going schoolmasterly mask dropped, to be replaced first by testiness and then by rather ugly aggression.

Don’t be taken in by this monumental act: that is my message. Just look at some of the minor players with whom Mr Corbyn has surrounded himself.

Andrew Fisher, his new political adviser, boasted on his website about taking part in what sounds like a student tuition-fee riot in 2010. He wrote: ‘Hundreds of people were enjoying the role reversal of the police being penned in and scared. I felt elated.’

And John Ross, an economics adviser to the new leader, once said, admittedly a long time ago: ‘The ruling class must know they will be killed if they do not allow a takeover by the workers. If we aren’t armed there will be a bloodbath.’ That doesn’t sound very kind and caring to me.

Of course, all this is in the past, and largely deniable as the former hard Left activists strive to fill our ears with honeyed words. The trouble is that, try as they might, they cannot entirely keep the lid on present and future eruptions of hatred and unpleasantness.

Just as Mr Corbyn was limbering up to preach his grotesquely insincere Sermon on the Mount, Unite leader Len McCluskey veered off script, and accused the Tories of being like the Nazis in seeking to reform strike laws. He invoked trade union members forced to wear armbands bearing a red triangle at Dachau concentration camp.

Well, Len is cock-a-hoop at the moment on account of Jeremy’s victory, and so got carried away, and quite forgot the new party line that politics is now supposed to be all about being caring and kind to one another.

Even the normally more sensible Tom Watson, the new Deputy Leader, called yesterday for Labour to kick the ‘nasty Tories down the road’, so that it can regain power in 2020.

I’m afraid that many others will also be forgetful about Mr Corbyn’s strictures. Last Saturday night a mob of class warriors carrying flame torches attacked a specialist cereal cafe in Shoreditch, East London, because they hate middle-class ‘gentrification’.

This put John McDonnell in a ticklish situation when he was interviewed on BBC2’s Newsnight on Monday evening. At least three times between 2010 and 2012 the man who is now Shadow Chancellor called for ‘insurrection’ to ‘bring down’ the Government.

In short, those deranged class warriors in Shoreditch were doing pretty well what he had ordered, but he could hardly cheer them on now. Nor could he criticise his own people, though. So he slid out of the question by saying that violence was ‘counter-productive’, without condemning what they did.

We should never be complacent, but I don’t think the Corbynistas will pull off their grand deception. It may be possible to put their highly discreditable pasts behind them. But they won’t be able to silence intemperate union leaders and unruly street warriors who are itching for a non-Parliamentary fight. Their hard Left supporters will almost certainly press for the de-selection of moderate Labour MPs.

Sometimes Corbyn and McDonnell will be forced to rebuke their wilder and more undisciplined followers for going too far too quickly, but they won’t be able to wash their hands of them, and nor will they want to. In the end, they are extremists cut from the same cloth.

During his speech on Tuesday, Jeremy Corbyn criticised spin, and represented himself as Mr Straight-as-a-Die. The truth is that in masquerading as kind and gentle and open to a new sort of inclusive politics, the Corbynistas are guilty of one of the biggest swindles practised on the British people in modern times.



The 'Affordable Housing' Fraud

Nowhere has there been so much hand-wringing over a lack of “affordable housing,” as among politicians and others in coastal California. And nobody has done more to make housing unaffordable than those same politicians and their supporters.

A recent survey showed that the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco was just over $3,500. Some people are paying $1,800 a month just to rent a bunk bed in a San Francisco apartment.

It is not just in San Francisco that putting a roof over your head can take a big chunk out of your pay check. The whole Bay Area is like that. Thirty miles away, Palo Alto home prices are similarly unbelievable.

One house in Palo Alto, built more than 70 years ago, and just over one thousand square feet in size, was offered for sale at $1.5 million. And most asking prices are bid up further in such places.

Another city in the Bay Area with astronomical housing prices, San Mateo, recently held a public meeting and appointed a task force to look into the issue of “affordable housing.”

Public meetings, task forces and political hand-wringing about a need for “affordable housing” occur all up and down the San Francisco peninsula, because this is supposed to be such a “complex” issue.

Someone once told President Ronald Reagan that a solution to some controversial issue was “complex.” President Reagan replied that the issue was in fact simple, “but it is not easy.”

Is the solution to unaffordable housing prices in parts of California simple? Yes. It is as simple as supply and demand. What gets complicated is evading the obvious, because it is politically painful.

One of the first things taught in an introductory economics course is supply and demand. When a growing population creates a growing demand for housing, and the government blocks housing from being built, the price of existing housing goes up.

This is not a breakthrough on the frontiers of knowledge. Economists have understood supply and demand for centuries — and so have many other people who never studied economics.

Housing prices in San Francisco, and in many other communities for miles around, were once no higher than in the rest of the United States. But, beginning in the 1970s, housing prices in these communities skyrocketed to three or four times the national average.

Why? Because local government laws and policies severely restricted, or banned outright, the building of anything on vast areas of land. This is called preserving “open space,” and “open space” has become almost a cult obsession among self-righteous environmental activists, many of whom are sufficiently affluent that they don’t have to worry about housing prices.

Some others have bought the argument that there is just very little land left in coastal California, on which to build homes. But anyone who drives down Highway 280 for thirty miles or so from San Francisco to Palo Alto, will see mile after mile of vast areas of land with not a building or a house in sight.

How “complex” is it to figure out that letting people build homes in some of that vast expanse of “open space” would keep housing from becoming “unaffordable”?

Was it just a big coincidence that housing prices in coastal California began skyrocketing in the 1970s, when building bans spread like wildfire under the banner of “open space,” “saving farmland,” or whatever other slogans would impress the gullible?

When more than half the land in San Mateo County is legally off-limits to building, how surprised should we be that housing prices in the city of San Mateo are now so high that politically appointed task forces have to be formed to solve the “complex” question of how things got to be the way they are and what to do about it?

However simple the answer, it will not be easy to go against the organized, self-righteous activists for whom “open space” is a sacred cause, automatically overriding the interests of everybody else.

Was it just a coincidence that some other parts of the country saw skyrocketing housing prices when similar severe restrictions on building went into effect? Or that similar policies in other countries have had the same effect? How “complex” is that?



Trump: Millions Who Pay No Taxes Will Keep Paying No Taxes

Donald Trump offered his tax plan Monday, and it has quite the populist appeal. His plan says, “If you are single and earn less than $25,000, or married and jointly earn less than $50,000, you will not owe any income tax. That removes nearly 75 million households — over 50% — from the income tax rolls. They get a new one page form to send the IRS saying, ‘I win,’ those who would otherwise owe income taxes will save an average of nearly $1,000 each.”

On top of that, he’d lower the top rate from 39.6% to 25%, and reduce corporate taxes from the current highest-in-the-world rate of 35% to 15%. On the other hand, he wants to eliminate deductions that help people like hedge fund managers pay a lower rate than many Americans. We suppose their tax forms will say, “I lose.”

Indeed, “eliminating most deductions and loopholes available to the very rich” is how he proposes to keep the plan “revenue neutral.” Fat chance of that. His proposed four brackets of 0%, 10%, 20% and 25% will “simplify the tax code,” he said. “It’ll grow the American economy at a level that it hasn’t seen for decades.”

It’s worth noting, as Trump does, that there are already millions of Americans who pay no income tax, though they do have to fill out complex tax forms to reach that conclusion. Thus, they have no “skin in the game,” and everyone should bear some of the burden, even if it’s just 1%. But Trump would expand the numbers paying nothing — smart politics.

On the other hand, these same workers pay a disproportionate share of the payroll tax, which supposedly funds the biggest drivers of our debt: Major entitlements.



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