Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Is Ocasio-Cortez the gift to the GOP that keeps on giving?

Democrats are starting to turn on each other as the Democratic Party moves further left, and it’s only going to help Republicans in the end.

Far-left Democrats and so-called progressives were ecstatic about the election of self-described democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but some of her peers in Congress are probably less thrilled. Last week, Ocasio-Cortez made it known that she was setting her sights on House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi by protesting in her office with a group of environmental activists.

On Saturday, Ocasio-Cortez confirmed that she will be opposing establishment Democrats who are not left-wing enough.

Ocasio-Cortez teamed up with far-left group Justice Democrats to launch a campaign to challenge some Democrats in primaries, according to Politico.

“Long story short, I need you to run for office,” she urged far-left radicals.

If there is one thing that Democrats in Congress care about, it’s their comfortable jobs.

“All Americans know money in politics is a huge problem, but unfortunately the way that we fix it is by demanding that our incumbents give it up or by running fierce campaigns ourselves,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “That’s really what we need to do to save this country. That’s just what it is.”

Ocasio-Cortez continued her rhetoric against incumbent Democrats on Twitter.

“If you’re a strong progressive leader in your community and committed to getting money out of politics, I want you to join me in Congress. I want you to run,” she tweeted.

The ever-increasing movement to the left from the Democratic Party base puts other Democrats in a tough spot.

Moderate Democrats have the decision to either sacrifice their values and go along with the madness, or they could try to work with Republicans again.

If Democrats want to keep their seats in Congress, they need to show moderate voters that they won’t succumb to socialism. Working with Republicans to help President Donald Trump’s agenda could help.

Some Democrats might even leave their party after being singled out by the radicals coming in. However, some unprincipled Democrats will likely capitulate and join the radical leftists.

Either way, such a large schism in the party will no doubt hurt Democrats in the long-run. Ocasio-Cortez’s activity could well rip the party apart. And that will only help President Donald Trump. Ocasio-Cortez clearly doesn’t see that now, but she likely will before too long.

If Democrats have an ounce of integrity left, they will see that their party is off the rails. If they don’t, that’s good news for Republicans.



Charting the Danger of the Modern Left
No one understands the dysfunctions and debilitating impact of America’s political system in the swamp better than Mark Melcher and Steve Soukup. For decades between them, they followed Washington for Wall Street at one of America’s largest brokerage houses. For the last 16 years, the two have run their own, independent research shop, delivering political commentary and forecasting to the investment community, studying the intersection between politics and economics. This pushed them into a relentless pursuit of the new left — measuring its deleterious impact on everything it touches — most especially Western civilization.

To this end, Melcher and Soukup have put the fruits of their study into print. “Know Thine Enemy: A History of the Left,” is nearly 1,000 pages long. It has been divided into two volumes, the first of which is available from Amazon (and Barnes & Noble). The purpose of this effort is to teach readers everything they can about the left, its origins and its many forms. They also identify the men and women who pushed back against the left, including the conservative icon Russell Kirk, to whom their book is dedicated.

The authors start their story at the Enlightenment, one of mankind’s greatest achievements, but also one of its most dangerous moments, or as they write in the introduction:

“(The left) emerged in the eighteenth century during the so-called Enlightenment period, and was based on the belief that science and reason should replace religion as the foundation of a modern society. The purveyors of his new ideology had trouble agreeing on details of this new belief system, and this resulted in the wide proliferation of leftist prototypes, among the best-known of which are communism, socialism, Marxism, fascism, and, in the United States, progressivism and liberalism.

"While different from each other in many important ways, all of these models originally shared several important philosophical ideas. These include an aversion to Christianity and religion generally, to capitalism, and to the concept of private property; a belief in the perfectibility of mankind; a belief in the superiority of reason over faith; a claim to an affinity with the working classes; and the promise of a world of peace, equality, and prosperity, free from the evils that religion had foisted on the mankind.”

In volume one, the two political historians trace the left from Voltaire and Rousseau, through the French Revolution, to Kant and Marx, to Great Britain with its Utopian Socialists and Bloomsburies, back to the Continent for the anarchists and proto-fascists, and then to the United States and its “progressives.” Most people think of the left only as Marx and his murderous acolytes, but Melcher and Soukup demonstrate that the left has been a consistent feature of Western civilization since the French Revolution, each scheme dedicated to undermining the existing order and creating a “new” man — whether he likes it or not.

The book allows the left to indict itself by citing the words of leftists themselves — most of which were written by dense and arrogant men in dense and arrogant prose. Fortunately, the authors’ narrative and their collection of easy-to-understand and highly respected secondary sources provide the reader with more than enough information to see just how dangerous and how similar various leftist movements have been.

I have spent my entire career advocating for free-market economic policies, trying to convince the leaders of this country that unnecessary government interference in the marketplace — and let’s face it, most government is totally unnecessary — destroys liberty and inhibits prosperity. The authors help to explain why this effort is absolutely necessary. The authors document the inevitable destruction unleashed by the left wherever it has reared its ugly head. They show how the ideas of leftism played a huge role in the creation of our administrative state, the bureaucratic apparatus that defies the Founders’ instructions that the government exists to secure our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“Know Thine Enemy” is a comprehensive takedown of the left and it should be read by those who want good to triumph over evil. (No, I’m not inciting violence here, but those who have abused political power for their own self-aggrandizement are not just misguided intellects.) Too often, we say that the left is wrong but well-intentioned. Some are. But most simply want government to control other people’s lives and they believe in Stalinistic methods to achieve that goal.

Stalin, Lenin, Marx, Mao, Pol Pot, Antifa, Castro, Che Guevara and the like use power to reduce the sanctity of the individual for the common good of the collective. It is a kind of enslavement that degrades the human spirit and makes us poorer over time. But the real villains here are not the leftists of yesteryear who set back the quest for human freedom and material progress, but the modern left — the academics, the politicians, the media mavens — who know, or should know, full well the destruction and retardation of statism, but still selfishly pursue it.

The underlying message of this book is that the modern left must be stopped and thoroughly discredited before they do society real and irrevocable harm.



An anti-poverty program even conservatives can love

Why subsidizing wages is the best way to help lower-income Americans — and their communities.

For most of America, it’s been the economic recovery that wasn’t. The most prosperous fifth of the nation’s ZIP codes account for all job growth since 2007, according to the Economic Innovation Group’s Distressed Communities Index; the rest of the country has experienced a net employment loss. Just five counties account for the entire gain in business establishments; the rest of the country has fewer than before the recession hit.

We need to spread prosperity more widely, but we have little experience doing that well. Government efforts to spur development in a particular place tend to falter, with resources steered by the political process toward boondoggles that do little to buttress a region’s economic vitality. Most support ends up coming from our safety net’s transfer payments, which help to meet people’s immediate needs but perversely weaken the labor market in the process.

There’s a better way, one with bipartisan pedigree, mechanisms for implementation in place and funding available. It’s called a “wage subsidy.”

The principle behind a wage subsidy is simple enough: If society recognizes the value of work and truly wants to promote it, we should be prepared to help pay for it. When you subsidize something, you get more of it. Subsidizing work makes jobs pay more than they otherwise would, attracting people from the sidelines into the labor force. Some of the subsidy’s value accrues to employers, too, who will find it more attractive to create jobs for less-skilled workers. The result is higher employment levels at higher wages, with enormous benefits for not only struggling households, but also struggling communities.

We subsidize work on a limited scale today, through a program called the Earned Income Tax Credit that makes low-income households eligible for substantial payments during tax season each year—more than $5,000 for some families. But the EITC’s annual, lump-sum payments have serious limitations: They align poorly with the financial needs of people living paycheck to paycheck. They don’t make clear the full earnings that workers can expect from low-wage jobs. And as structured today, the benefit goes almost entirely to households with children, even though drawing young, single workers into the labor force should be a top priority.

A properly designed wage subsidy would operate much like the current payroll tax, but in reverse—instead of deducting money from each paycheck based on how much the worker has earned, the government would put money in. The amount would be calibrated to the worker’s hourly wage, so someone earning $9 per hour might get a $3-per-hour subsidy; someone earning $13 per hour might get an extra $1. Once a worker’s market wage reached $15 per hour, the subsidy would cease.

The critical distinction between a wage subsidy and traditional approaches to supporting struggling households and communities is its direct attachment to work. America already transfers more than $1 trillion annually to lower-income households, a total that has surged four-fold since the 1970s even as median wages stagnated. But nearly all that support is provided without reference to work, and in fact usually discourages work. That’s because increases in earned income reduce benefits, which makes the decision to try to earn a living seem a losing proposition for recipients. With a wage subsidy, by contrast, the incentive is reversed: taking a low-wage job is the way to become eligible, and working more is the way to receive a larger benefit.

A parallel problem, and solution, exists for depressed places. Local economies suffering from deindustrialization now rely on the safety net to stay afloat, which means in practice that they “export need.” In other words, instead of making things that others want in return for the goods and services they want from the wider world, they rely on their own lack of earned income to attract transfer payments. Taxpayer largesse supplies them with the things they want in return for nothing at all. The thriving occupational therapy office in an otherwise vacant plaza becomes the town’s exporter, selling to the nation its care of local residents on disability. Using similar logic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture promotes food stamp enrollment as a “win-win for local retailers and communities. Each $5 in new SNAP benefits generates almost twice that amount in economic activity for the community.” Add in Medicare and Social Security, and in vast swaths of the country a third or even a half of all personal income arrives via government benefits.

As with people, a wage subsidy reverses this dynamic for places. Subsidy payments are also transfers, of course, but they arrive in paychecks attached to the community’s productive workers. Rather than rely on people not working to attract dollars from Washington, the community’s workers become its engine of prosperity—and all jobs within the community can be ones that generate resources. To be sure, an economy in which all communities support themselves without transfers is the goal; but until we reach it, a wage subsidy represents the best substitute. Instead of suggesting food-stamp enrollment as the way to help your local economy, the government can suggest getting a job—any job.

Some wage-subsidy proposals have a more explicitly “place-based” orientation, targeting support to depressed regions. This goes too far. For one thing, the politics of deciding who should be eligible would be a nightmare. For another, low-wage workers struggling to make ends meet are a pervasive feature of our national economy, and they deserve this form of support wherever they live. By setting a standard subsidy calculation nationwide, most of the subsidy will already flow to those places that have the weakest labor markets and lowest wage structures.

Certainly, a nationwide subsidy costs more than a targeted one, but America’s ever-expanding safety net already contains the resources to fund the program—resources that are being spent less effectively, in ways that deliver less value to recipients and often discourage work in the process. Without disrupting our support for people who cannot work, we could shift assistance for people who can work—or, indeed, already are working—toward this new form that encourages work and delivers cash in each paycheck to those who do work. Substantial funding would come from replacing the existing Earned Income Tax Credit. Programs like food stamps and disability could revert to their pre-recession scales. Some Medicaid spending, which yields appallingly low returns for recipients, could likewise be redirected. Best of all, as the subsidy moves people back into the workforce, their need for government transfers will decline.

The principle of supporting work is a bipartisan one, but Republicans resist the creation of yet more programs, while Democrats reject any shifting of funds from existing programs as “cuts”—even when the resources would still flow toward low-income households, but in a more effective manner. Both sides, however, can achieve their goals through a wage subsidy. It would make what we already spend go further, strengthen labor markets, reward work and move more families and communities toward self-sufficiency.



Italy: Salvini says going forward on 'father and mother' ID card

Minister says will ignore privacy watchdog's view

Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has said the ministry is "going forward" on replacing "parent 1" and "parent 2" with "father" and "mother' on electronic ID cards for children.

"We are going forward" despite the opposition of Italy's privacy watchdog which is against the change, said Salvini.

"There is no privacy guarantor that can deny a child's right to have a mother and a father," he said. The Italian association of municipalities, ANCI, also came out against Salvini's proposed change on Friday.

Family Minister Lorenzo Fontana, a League member, said "well done Matteo, you go forward on right things!".


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCHPOLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both 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 THE PSYCHOLOGIST.

Email me  here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or  here (Pictorial) or  here  (Personal)


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