Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Congress Passes Dangerous HR 5 to legalize discrimination in America

The so-called “Equality Act” legalizes religious discrimination, and obliterates parents’ rights

Under the leadership of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed HR 5 (236-173-23), a bill that would legalize religious bigotry in America, and threatens every ministry, business, and family in the United States.

“This legislation represents the greatest threat to people of faith in ministry and the marketplace today,” said Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values. “Not only does HR 5 eliminate existing religious protections, it tells women, children and people of faith that they are second-class citizens.”

HR 5 is a Sexual Orientation/Gender Identity bill that, among other problems:

Requires biological men be allowed in women’s restrooms, locker rooms, and showers if they claim they identify as women.

Requires boys be allowed to play in girls’ sports in public schools if they claim they identify as women.

Forces women’s homeless shelters and domestic violence shelters to allow biological men who claim to identify as women to bathe and bunk with women.

Allows state government to remove children from parents’ custody who don’t consent to dangerous conversion/hormone therapy.

Forces doctors to participate in “gender transition” surgeries and procedures.

Requires businesses to participate in same-sex weddings, even if the wedding violates their religious beliefs.

Requires faith-based ministries to abandon their statements of faith in hiring practices.

Via email


Socialism is neither a fair nor 'progressive' political philosophy

While politicians, pundits and college professors heap praise upon the supposed benefits of socialism, the reality is unfortunately all too clear for Venezuelans. Years of economic mismanagement and political instability that led to mass shortages of food, medicine and other necessities has culminated in recent weeks to rioting in the streets and an ongoing, violent political tug-of-war over the nation’s leadership.

And while socialism remains unpopular among most Americans (especially non-coastal elites), there can be no doubt that socialism seems to be enjoying a resurgence among many members of the millennial generation.

How can we explain this, especially given recent events in Venezuela?

What do college students even mean when they use the word “socialism”? Do they mean basic economic fairness or increased spending on social programs, or do they mean the system that runs counter to basic human nature (and basic economics) and has failed every single time it has ever been attempted?

How does one go about refuting socialism when its proponents themselves appear unclear on what it is they actually are advocating? “Socialism” becomes whatever policy proposals progressives happen to prefer at any given moment.

Maybe a better approach would be to start with what socialism is not:

Socialism is not new: Despite the social media savvy or slick rhetoric of many of the new socialists, socialism in no way is a new or “progressive” political philosophy or approach to government. In fact, varieties of socialism were directly responsible for the deaths and misery of millions throughout the 20th century.

Socialism is not working in Europe: This is one of the favorite tropes paraded by the new socialists: “Look at Sweden! They are socialist and thriving.” However, Sweden is not socialist. Instead, Sweden’s recent prosperity is the result of free-market deregulation. If you want to see how socialism works in actual practice, check out Venezuela.

Socialism is not more fair or just: How much wealth is “too much”? How much independence should we have when making our own economic decisions? Why is that a matter for the government to decide? “Soaking the rich” by arbitrarily deciding who has too much wealth is not only not fair, it doesn’t make sense. Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos have done more to improve the lives of millions throughout the world through investment and the provision of valuable goods and services than any government bureau could ever dream of. We should want more millionaires and billionaires in America, not fewer. 

Socialism is not superior to capitalism: Capitalism is the best system thus far discovered by mankind to most effectively provide quality goods and services to society, at competitive prices, all the while lifting the maximum number of people out of poverty. And all through voluntary exchange without the need for coercion by the government or other entities.

Socialism is not better for the individual: One indisputable fact we can take from the 20th century is that socialism does not lead to greater freedom or dignity for the individual. Socialism, by its very nature, requires force. Pursuant to the good of society you will be told how much of your money you can keep, what you can buy and what you can do. Or else. This is not freedom; it is tyranny. What matters is the actual proven results of public policies, not the supposedly good intentions of those who enact them.

In the end, the only reason the new “democratic” socialists (because voting for tyrants to take your rights is so much better than their just doing it directly) have the ability to decry the alleged injustices and inhumanity of capitalism is the wealth, development and material comfort capitalism has provided for them.

When you are starving or struggling to survive, you don’t have a lot of time to complain.

But sipping their lattes from corporate coffee shops, tweeting from their iPhones while wearing designer clothing from head to toe, the new socialists may appear either disingenuous or downright dumb.

But most are likely just ignorant.

The remedy to this affliction isn’t to call them names or question their motives. Instead, we should strive to help them understand the economic and political realities they seem to disregard so that we can work together towards a brighter, more prosperous future here in our own country.



Resist price controls on prescription drugs

President Trump has made great strides in dismantling the big-government legacy of his predecessor, Barack Obama. Historic tax cuts, dozens of regulations cut for every new one implemented, and two conservative Supreme Court justices, to name a few.

President Trump’s free-market reforms have proven wildly successful. The economy is growing, and consumer confidence is at historically high levels. This progress makes it even more disappointing to see the White House considering price controls on prescription drugs.

The White House is considering a proposal created by the Department of Health and Human Services to control U.S. prescription drug prices called the International Pricing Index (IPI). This system would determine how much to pay for drugs under Medicare Part B — including vaccines and cancer medications — based on their costs in other countries, including those with socialized health care systems. At the same time, Republican Sens. Scott Hawley and Rick Scott have introduced similarly ill-conceived legislation in Congress.

If it sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is. It would be incorrect to assume other countries have lower prescription drug costs because the markets naturally decided so. The International Pricing Index would be aggregating the drug prices of nations that have already artificially lowered drug prices.

You can’t get something for nothing. The government cannot mandate lower drug prices and expect no consequences in the market. In fact, we have already seen the dangers of price controls in other sectors of the economy, from wages to housing. They interfere with supply and demand, causing waste and shortages.

The prescription drug market would be next. Currently, the United States leads the world in medical research and innovation. Drug makers set prices that allow them to recover the high costs of inventing these new drugs, testing them and satisfying the regulations required to bring them to market. If they cannot afford the costs of inventing new lifesaving drugs, they simply won’t invent them anymore.

Who knows what lifesaving medications and treatments would have been invented if drug companies had the resources to pursue them? The missed opportunities would be devastating. Price controls may feel like a win against Big Pharma, but ultimately, American families who need these future treatments will be the ones who lose the most.

Prescription drug price controls attempt to combat the “global freeloading” of socialist countries by becoming more like them. They alleviate the competition between the United States and other countries by making America less great.

Ironically, the International Price Index is a product of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Innovation (CMMI), which is turning a blind eye to the damage price controls would have on pharmaceutical innovation. The CMMI was created and placed under the umbrella of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) when Obamacare was passed.

That’s right — price controls would not only fail to advance the fight against Obamacare, they would be enforced through Obamacare. It’s a bit of a mixed signal, considering President Trump himself has supported the challenges to Obamacare in the courts.

President Trump’s economic success has been a result of reducing government intervention and allowing the markets to operate naturally. Price controls would be a complete about-face from this winning economic strategy.

The Department of Health and Human Services has no business making economic decisions on behalf of the American people. Congress makes laws, and agencies help enforce them, not the other way around. Implementing price controls on pharmaceuticals exceeds the bounds of what the CMMI is allowed to do under law, and doing so would be a step backwards in the fight for a restrained executive branch.

Governing by executive overreach was a hallmark of the Obama administration to achieve policy wins by circumventing the legislative process. If President Trump falls into the same trap, he would be no better than the previous administration.

In President Trump’s 2019 State of the Union speech, he told the American people, “America was founded on liberty and independence. Not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free.”

Now, HHS Secretary Alex Azar and big-government Republicans like Rick Scott and Josh Hawley are trying to convince him to break that promise, one price control at a time. Heading into the 2020 election, President Trump must renew his resolve that America will never be a socialist country, and he can start by resisting socialist price controls on prescription drugs.



The catastrophic costs of socialist policies

At every turn, Democrats want to restrict consumer choice and businesses’ ability to turn a profit. Instead, they hope to replace free markets with state-mandated controls, decided by their hand-picked crew of bureaucrats in Washington.

Frighteningly enough, we now have elected officials from one of the two major American parties calling openly for state control of resources. They’re either ignorant of or are turning a blind eye towards the failures of socialism in the history of the 20th century, as well as the disasters brought on by socialism in the present day. One need look no further than Venezuela to see a real-time example of socialism-induced catastrophe.

President Trump was right to rebuke socialism in his State of the Union address. This sets the stage for 2020 at a time when economic growth has raised the standard of living for all Americans. Tax cuts, deregulation and free markets have lifted Americans out of poverty. Socialism would put an end to the country’s economic growth and widespread prosperity.

The Green New Deal, Medicare-for-all, and 70 percent income tax rates will not benefit Americans. These socialist policies rest on coercion by the state and would leave Americans with less money, fewer choices, and a lower standard of living. They’ll also wreck the budget.

The Green New Deal alone would come with an insane $8.3 to $12.3 trillion price tag over ten years. On the low end, The Green New Deal is even more expensive than what we pay for Medicare annually. On the high end, the Green New Deal is as expensive as Social Security.

Medicare-for-all ultimately seeks to abolish private health insurance and would put us on a fast track toward placing all Americans on government-run health insurance. No longer would Americans be able to switch providers to get a better deal. There would be only one deal  -- you, locked into whatever some bureaucrat decides is best for you.

At the same time, wait times at hospitals increase and drug supplies become scarce under government-run health care. Premiums and deductibles would skyrocket at a faster rate than during Obamacare. Just like the Green New Deal, the expected cost of Medicare-for-all is astronomical at $32 trillion over 10 years. Sensing a trend here?

With the dent these proposals put in economic growth, how could we ever afford them? Even with individual marginal tax rates on high-income earners exceeding 90 percent in the 1950s, individual income tax revenue did not exceed 7.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at any point during the decade. Individual income tax revenue as a percentage of GDP was 8.3 percent in 2018, and the highest marginal income tax rate was 37 percent.

The Green New Deal and Medicare-for-all would inhibit economic growth, while higher taxes wouldn’t even raise tax revenues to fund the programs. The entire socialist economic model doesn’t work. Wealthy societies and free markets are the key to healthy people and prosperity.

Democrats’ socialist proposals fail to accomplish what their supporters claim -- all at a hefty price. Even worse, they concentrate power in a centralized government bureaucracy unaccountable to the people.



San Francisco Homelessness Rises 17% After City Spends $300 Million Annually to Solve Problem

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that homelessness in the Golden City has risen by 17% since 2017 as more and more people live in their vehicles and as the city spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer money in an attempt to solve the problem.

The report released Thursday shows that studies "indicate at least 1,153 more homeless people are in the streets compared with two years ago, when the federal tally set the total number at 6,858." The number, 8,011, was determined using federal guidelines. According to the paper, this number is actually most likely much lower than the city's own estimation set to be released in July which uses different standards for homelessness.

Accordingly, "The number of people living in cars, RVs and other vehicles has risen by 45% since the last one-night count was taken two years ago."

“I’m really disappointed in these numbers,” said Jeff Kositsky, head of the city Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing told the Chronicle. “I can make no excuses. These numbers are bad, and we have to own that.

San Francisco holds the most homeless people in the state of California, but overall California has an astonishing 24% of the nation's homeless population.

San Francisco Mayor Breed says the answer to the problem, despite spending $300 million each year, is simply more spending. The somewhat recently elected mayor is calling for help from regional and federal resources. "We need more resources from the federal and state governments for housing, period, and we need to build housing faster. S.F. can’t do it alone," she told the paper.

“There’s not just one thing that’s going to fix this,” she added. “I know this count will discourage a lot of people, but it’s important to remember where we were last year. Last year you saw a lot of big tent camps — like at 13th Street, and now we have a beautiful Navigation Center (shelter) there. We’ve helped 1,200 people out of homelessness since I came into office. We have made progress.”



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.

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