Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas to all who come by here

A few things below but I am not sure if I will be posting anything tomorrow.  I will not be posting on any of my other blogs today.


The Busybody Left

By Thomas Sowell

The political left has been trying to run other people’s lives for centuries. So we should not be surprised to see the Obama administration now trying to force neighborhoods across America to have the mix of people the government wants them to have.

There are not enough poor people living in middle class neighborhoods to suit the political left. Not enough blacks in white neighborhoods. Not enough Hispanics here, not enough Asians there.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it grant the federal government the power to dictate such things. But places that do not mix and match people the way Washington wants them to can lose all sorts of federal money they currently receive under numerous programs.

Handing out vast amounts of the taxpayers' money is the way the federal government has expanded its power far beyond the powers granted by the Constitution — thereby limiting the freedom of individuals, localities and states. Washington is essentially buying up our freedom with our own money, taken in taxes.

What makes this latest political crusade so ridiculous and so dangerous is that people have never been mixed and matched at random, either in the United States or in other countries around the world, or in any period of history.

We can see blacks and whites living in different neighborhoods, but many people who look the same to the naked eye also sort themselves out. Moreover, neither blacks nor whites are living at random within their own respective neighborhoods.

The upscale neighborhood called Sugar Hill in Harlem, where I delivered groceries as a teenager, was very different from the neighborhood where I lived in a tenement.

White neighborhoods also sorted themselves out. A man who grew up in Chicago said, “Tell me a man’s last name and I will tell you where he lives.” Studies of ethnic concentrations in Chicago have backed up his claim.

Back when the Lower East Side of New York was a predominantly Jewish area during the era of mass immigration from Europe, Hungarian Jews lived clustered together in a different part of the Lower East Side from where Polish Jews or Romanian Jews lived. And German Jews lived uptown.

It was the same story in Italian neighborhoods. Immigrants from Rome were not scattered at random among immigrants from Naples or Sicily. Moreover, this was not peculiar to New York.

The same clustering of people from particular parts of Italy could be found in cities across the United States, as well as in Italian communities in Buenos Aires, Toronto, Sydney and other places around the world.

The very same pattern could be found among Germans, Chinese, Lebanese and other peoples living in other countries. People of different ages, different incomes or different lifestyles likewise tend to sort themselves out.

Nevertheless the busybody left has launched a political crusade to make communities across America present a tableau that matches the preconceptions of their betters.

Nor are the true believers deterred by the failures and counterproductive consequences of their previous social crusades, such as busing children to distant schools to mix and match them with children from different racial, economic or social backgrounds.

The theory was that this would improve the education of all — through the magic of “diversity” — and promote greater understanding among different races and classes. In practice, however, compulsory busing of children to mix and match them produced more racial polarization and more educational problems.

Undaunted by reality, the left moved on to try something similar in the housing markets, by placing low-income housing projects in middle class neighborhoods and by giving housing subsidies to individual low-income families to go live in neighborhoods where they could not afford to live otherwise.

The counterproductive consequences of these efforts in the housing markets have only spurred on the busybodies of the left to try harder to force people to live their lives according to the preconceptions of the left, rather than according to their own direct personal experiences and preferences.



Are Republicans dying off?

In 2004, Republican popular vote totals for president peaked — at 62,040,610 votes for George W. Bush. They have been down ever since.  59,948,323 votes were cast for John McCain in 2008. And 60,933,500 votes were cast for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Meaning, in the past decade, Republicans have proven unable to expand their voting coalition.

While many analyses will often focus on candidate selection or issue selection by the party, offering a range reasons, usually ideological but also applying to the candidates of themselves, of being too moderate or too conservative.

But what if there is a different reason, a more obvious truth for the shrinking Republican electorate?

Perhaps the reason fewer people are voting Republican is simply because there are fewer Republicans who are still alive.

The Greatest Generation, which weathered the Great Depression and then fought and won World War II, is all but gone. In 2004, there were still more than 4 million surviving World War II veterans, according to the National World War II Museum. By 2012, that number had shrunk to little more than a million. By 2016, it will be far less than a million.Approaching_Omaha

If you include their spouses at roughly the same count, bringing the total to about 8 or 9 million, that means in the past 2 election cycles, more than 6 million have died. By 2016, nearly all of them will have died.

According to research by Gallup, what was left of the Greatest Generation was roughly split politically and ideologically as recently as 2013 — 47 percent Republican or lean-Republican versus 46 percent Democrat or lean-Democrat. There, the death rate would have hurt each party roughly equally.

As for the Silent Generation — those born in between the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers — it is 50 percent to 43 percent in favor of Republicans, including leaners. As that generation now dies off, it will disproportionately hurt Republicans.

In the meantime, their replacements in the voting age population at the younger end of the spectrum, have unquestionably skewed Democrat. Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1996, register 53 percent are Democrat or lean-Democrat compared to 35 percent who are Republican or lean-Republican.

As for Baby Boomers, they are roughly split, 46 percent to 44 percent in favor of Democrats, including leaners.

Meaning, quite literally, the Republican Party is dying off, and unless something changes rather quickly, the GOP may never have as many votes as it does right now.

That is the stage, and at least explains what has taken place in 2008 and 2012.

But what looks like perhaps an insurmountable demographic decline could actually represent an enormous opportunity in disguise for the GOP. The three keys will undoubtedly be: 1) Maximizing turnout of the remaining Silent Generation by emphasizing that 2016 is their last stand; 2) Skewing Baby Boomers towards Republican as they now retire and worry about the future they are leaving their children; and 3) Somewhat neutralizing the advantage among Millennials as they enter their full-time careers and whose concerns are now shifting away from social issues to economic concerns.

Add to that an overarching emphasis on security issues in the wake of Paris and San Bernardino, including high anxiety over immigration and terrorism, as well as economic issues including immigration, trade, globalization, and jobs. Voters, particularly Republican voters, see a nation in decline.

Suddenly, then, it is easy to see why the two current Republican frontrunners, Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, have excelled. Both have taken a hard line on immigration, and neither supported granting fast track trade authority Barack Obama. What you find is a Republican electorate that is receptive to a working class populist message that is also tough on security that has confounded the political establishment.

Now, how will that message reflect back into the general election remains to be seen. But some signals could be coming from Democrat frontrunner Hillary Clinton, who just last month was mocking Republican concerns over Syrian refugees but now, in the wake of San Bernardino, is praising efforts in Congress to increase FBI scrutiny of the refugees coming from the Syria and Iraq war.

“The United States has to take a close look at our visa programs, and I am glad this administration and Congress are stepping up scrutiny in the wake of San Bernardino,” Clinton told a crowd of her supporters at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis on Dec. 15.

What polls is Clinton looking at to suggest she needs to triangulate on immigration and visas — before the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire primary have even begun? It is notable that Clinton is watching her right flank. That might mean events are reshaping the political landscape faster than politicians can respond.

Meaning there could in-roads for Republicans to not only political independents, where the usual battle for the middle occurs in the general election, but also to Democrats, who might be afraid their party cannot keep them safe.

What is clear is that in order to succeed, Republicans need to replace their ranks by building on the base they have, and the current political earthquake on security might be what it takes to shake up the current electorate and put voters on the table nobody thought could be moved just two months ago.



Economic Tinkering Has Unforeseeable Ripple Effect

One policy change can have far reaching effects on the economy.


The environmentalist left is always eager to talk about the fragility of natural ecosystems. Even slight alterations, they argue, can have huge ripple effects and unintended consequences. Thus, we’re forced to suffer through mosquito bites every summer instead of eradicating that godless species as we should have years ago. Still, the point about the interconnected nature of natural systems is not without merit, and there is such system that is routinely disrupted without adequate regard for the consequences. That system is the economy.

The folly of government planners is that they think they can change one variable in the economy without throwing the whole system out of whack. The desire to tinker with a law here, a regulation there, overlooks the fact that these changes create a different set of incentives, which consumers and producers respond to by altering their behavior. The results of this are often impossible to predict, and rarely desirable.

A good example comes from the health care sector. The Affordable Care Act sought to reduce prices and increase coverage by enacting specific regulations on insurance companies and mandates on consumers. The web of incentives it created is far too complex to go into fully, but by now it’s pretty clear that the law has not worked as intended. People aren’t complying with the mandates, the price of coverage has gone up, which in turn has driven insurance co-ops out of business, and caused some insurers to pull out of the exchanges.

Now, the government is running up against its own ripple effects, with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) seeking to block several hospital mergers that are occurring as the result of the Affordable Care Act. The FTC argues that these hospital mergers reduce competition and increase prices for consumers, and that therefore the mergers should be blocked. It sounds reasonable. We all know that competition makes things cheaper and better. However, in this case things are not as simple as they appear.

ObamaCare is making medicine more expensive and harder to provide, as well as encouraging cooperation and integration of hospital systems. It has therefore become more difficult for smaller hospitals to survive on their own, and these mergers are a way to comply with the ACA’s mandates while allowing larger institutions to absorb some of the costs.

Are hospital mergers a good thing? Well, probably not, but given the current regulatory and legal framework, it may be the best of a series of bad options. What if the FTC succeeds in block mergers only to confront a wave of hospital closures? It’s hard to see how that would make consumers any better off. On the other hand, without ObamaCare’s mandates, it’s unlikely that such mergers would have been necessary in the first place.

When government intervenes in one part of the economy, it creates problems elsewhere; when it tries to address those problems, still more spring forth like so many heads on a hydra. In fact, the majority of these problems would solve themselves if government would simply stay out of the way, but I’m not holding my breath for them to learn this lesson any time soon.


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


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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)


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