Tuesday, February 09, 2010

The New Discrimination

In favour of unionists

The election of a president of mixed race was supposed to mark an end to discrimination in America. Instead it has ushered in a new era of blatant discrimination. The very first piece of legislation enacted by the Obama administration was supposed to create or save 4 million jobs and prevent unemployment from going above 8% if enacted. Instead, the Stimulus Bill provided funding for existing government programs and many state programs for two years.

The real intent of this bill was to prevent the loss of unionized public sector jobs that make up 50% of all union workers and virtually all of SEIU's workers. Even the 10% of the bill that was supposed to repair roads and bridges contained provisions to limit the jobs to only union workers. Consequently, the unemployment rate has risen above 10%, despite the passage of the 787 billion Stimulus Bill.

The next action taken by the Obama administration was the government bailout of General Motors and Chrysler. This bailout violated bankruptcy laws which provide secured creditors with the first right to the company's assets. Instead the secured creditors got 29% of their investment while the United Auto Workers (UAW) got 78% of their investment and partial ownership of the company.

The hourly wages and benefits at Chrysler are $75.85 and at GM $73.25. If the cost of current retiree benefits cost is included, the hourly wage and benefit cost at GM would increase by another $31.00 per hour. When one compares these costs to the hourly wage and benefit cost at Honda of $42.95 and of all U.S. manufacturing jobs of $25.50, is there any doubt that the bailout of GM and Chrysler was a waste of taxpayer money on woefully non-competitive companies. The auto bailout plan was simply a way to skirt the bankruptcy laws to preserve UAW wages at the expense of the secured creditors and the American taxpayers.

However, the most blatant example of discrimination is in the healthcare bill. After a closed door meeting with labor union officials, Obama, Pelosi and Reed decided to exempt public and private sector union healthcare plans from the 40% tax on Cadillac plans. Why should organized labor that makes up less than 15% of the workforce receive their high value healthcare untaxed while the rest of the population that receive high value healthcare pay a 40% tax. This act of discrimination will cost taxpayers 60 billion dollars if the healthcare bill is enacted.

The 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for all citizens, yet the Obama administration has discriminated against 85% of working Americans to reward his allies in SEIU, their surrogates ACORN and other organized labor groups that helped him become elected.



Recession chugs on, except in government

White House apologists were quick to point to the unemployment rate decline from 10 percent to 9.7 percent as evidence that the recovery is gathering momentum and that President Obama's policies -- especially his $787 billion economic stimulus bill Congress approved last February -- are "working." But the back story behind the figures provides cold comfort.

First, the drop to 9.7 percent unemployment does not reflect the creation of new jobs that normally accompanies an economic recovery. The number of new jobs is actually declining. Total nonfarm payroll employment, for example, dipped by an additional 20,000 positions after a December decline of 150,000 positions. The unemployment rate the day Obama took office last year stood at 7.6 percent and 134.6 million people had jobs. When he signed the economic stimulus, Obama promised the bill would bolster the economy sufficiently to keep unemployment below 8.0 percent. But the unemployment rate has exceeded 8.0 percent since last fall, and total employment stands at only 129.5 million. The stimulus has been a bust.

Second, anybody who thinks the job situation is going to improve dramatically in coming months is not paying attention to what's going on behind the unemployment rate.The Hudson Institute's Diana Furchtgott-Roth notes that "This is a better employment report than last month's report, yet the economy is still not creating jobs. The percent of the unemployed who are out of work for 27 weeks or more exceeded 41%, an all-time high. This is unacceptable and shows that Congress and the President need to focus on job creation, rather than on expanding government, because the tax increases and borrowing used to expand government reduce overall job creation and create uncertainty." Furchtgott-Roth further notes that "the labor force participation rate is the lowest since mid-1985." This means that fewer Americans are in the labor force.

Third, among the few sectors of the economy showing net employment growth over the past year is the federal government. The federal civil service is rapidly expanding as Obama increases the size of government, with 33,000 new positions being added in January alone. Only 9,000 of those new slots were for temporary census jobs. In other words, what we are seeing is good times for the public sector and the growing prospect of a continuing and perhaps even deepening recession for everybody else.



Memo to Arianna: Stop being silly

By: Hugh Hewitt

Yesterday's joint appearance with Arianna Huffington on CNN's "Reliable Sources," hosted by the estimable Howard Kurtz, gave me a chance to tell Arianna in person what most people think about her crusade against the Fox News Channel: It is silly. Her focus on a word here and a phrase there is silly. The warning that Glenn Beck or others are "inciting" the public and that this is dangerous is silly.

The program also gave me the opportunity to say on television what I often say on radio: If I had it in my power, I'd give Keith Olbermann a 24/7 cable channel because he does more good for the center-right than almost anyone in America. His wild-eyed craziness combined with obvious lack of knowledge about so many things make him an advertisement for conservatism, and I really hope he survives his ratings plummet. He's the perfect example of a prompter-dependant sports announcer-turned-political commentator who digs a hole for the Left every night. Long may he broadcast.

But what I really enjoyed saying the most was the obvious: The Beltway-Manhattan media elite still cannot figure out Fox for the same reason they can't figure out Rush or Sarah Palin. They are elitists who long ago lost touch with the center of American opinion and who have no way of finding their way back again because they continue to staff up with a lethal (for ratings) combination of privileged execs, liberal-to-left-wing writers and producers, and know-nothing teleprompter readers.

What Roger Ailes has figured out that results in the cable ratings domination by Beck, "Special Report," Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly and Greta Van Susteren is not string theory. It begins with respect for the audience as opposed to contempt, and then adds in good humor and balance. The "Special Report" panel is the best panel in the business because it always has at least one smart and well-read lefty on it. Hannity's Great American Panel is the same.

Rarely if ever will you find a Fox anchor using the term "tea bagger" because to do so is to insult the millions of activists involved in the past year of town halls, demonstrations and debates, but also those who know them and beyond that those who are interested in what they have to say.

And you will find Fox covering the president's stumbles and the stories about the administration's rising tide of failure. The MSM has an enormous double standard -- imagine if Palin had mispronounced the word corpsman twice in her address Saturday night or her interview with Chris Wallace on Sunday morning -- and that double standard first astonishes and then offends.

The refusal to cover comprehensively the president's year of serial pratfalls and his risible reflex to blame Bush confirmed for a vast segment of the American audience that the MSM remains just as in the tank for President Obama as it was for candidate Obama. When the networks cease to be infomercials for the president, they might win over some of Fox's broad and growing audience.

There is no reason why MSMBC and CNN have to lag so far behind Fox. The audience is up for grabs every single night in America. There is no "brand loyalty" in the world of cable news. But to compete, you have to at least try to be fair and balanced. Or you at least have to be talented and smart.



Obama thinks small (for once)

Before his speech in New Hampshire on Tuesday, President Obama visited a small technology company in Nashua called ARC Energy. During his talk, he promoted ARC Energy as an example of the kind of innovation he wants taxpayers to subsidize with what he called "seed money" in the form of federal "green jobs" funding. We need to do it, he said, so we can get ahead of the Chinese.

Probably few in the audience knew what the people who founded ARC Energy only two years ago know: ARC received no federal startup money. Dr. Kedar Gupta and his wife founded the company with their own money, the same way Dr. Gupta co-founded GT Solar, the world's largest maker of photovoltaic cells, in the 1990s.

Obama presented a narrative that was fundamentally false - namely that, without federal "seed money," our technology sector won't advance quickly enough to beat the Chinese. But guess where ARC Energy sells many of its products? China.

That sleight of hand was typical of Obama's speech. The main point of his presentation was to tout his plan to pump $30 billion into small banks for the stated purpose of providing them with enough money to lend to small businesses. But that cannot possibly be the real goal of the program, for several reasons.

First, community banks are not short of cash for lending. According to Stephen Wilson, the chairman-elect of the American Bankers Association, they aren't lending because federal bank regulators have forced them to tighten their standards. "Obama is calling us `fat cats' and telling us to be lending more, and then he sends his bank examiners and regulators to stifle our lending," Wilson told the Cincinnati Enquirer last month. If Obama wanted to free up cash for small businesses, he could have his regulators back off and let small banks lend.

Second, if Obama were really interested in freeing up more money for lending, why is he proposing to tax large banks? Wells Fargo, one of the large banks Obama wants to punish with a new tax, is the largest small-business lender in America. It expects to loan $16 billion to small businesses this year. Bank of America projects a similar figure.

Those two banks alone would lend about as much (more, if the economy improves) to small businesses this year as the $30 billion Obama wants to spread among smaller banks. But rather than make it easier for them to lend, Obama is making it harder by proposing to tax them simply for being large and by having his regulators restrict their ability to take risks. By encouraging banks to build up larger cash reserves, Washington is reducing the amount of money available for lending.

Clearly, Obama's interest is not in freeing up money for small businesses. The only explanation for his behavior - taxing the largest banks and distributing money to smaller ones - is that he wants to use the power of the state to shift assets (and, thus, power) from large banks to smaller ones.

This is purely an ideological crusade. Obama believes that large banks are generally a bad thing, and small ones are generally a good thing. So, he's taking from the large and giving to the small. It's economic idiocy, but in his mind it's a morally just cause.

What Obama did in New Hampshire is the same as he has done for the past year, and on the campaign trail before that. He presented a fa‡ade of an argument to justify actions Americans would not possibly support were he to state their real motives. It's exactly how he tried to sell health care reform (it's vital to economic recovery!), his massive transfer of wealth from private producers to government employee unions (it's shovel-ready stimulus!), and his cap-and-trade bill (it will create green jobs!).

If we take any lesson from his New Hampshire "town hall" event (it wasn't a town hall meeting), it is that we must ignore what the president says his proposals are intended to do and scrutinize what they actually do. More often than not, we will find that they simply transfer wealth and power from people and groups Obama dislikes to those he favors.




Liberal Icon Attacks Obama Over Israel: "Marty Peretz, editor-in-chief and former owner of the liberal magazine The New Republic and a staunch supporter of Barak Obama in 2008, has written a column sharply critical of the president over Israeli aid to Haiti. On Jan. 15, Obama commented that in addition to U.S. aid to Haiti, assistance had come from "Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, among others." He declined to mention Israel. In a column headlined "Maybe I'm Getting Paranoid . . . About Obama," Peretz wrote: "The fact is that, next to our country, Israel sent the largest contingent of trained rescue workers, doctors, and other medical personnel. "The Israeli field hospital was the only one on the ground that could perform real surgery, which it did literally hundreds of times . . . "So didn't Obama notice? For God's sake, everybody noticed the deep Israeli involvement."

Big pay for parasites: "The number of federal workers earning six-figure salaries has exploded during the recession, according to a USA TODAY analysis of federal salary data. Federal employees making salaries of $100,000 or more jumped from 14% to 19% of civil servants during the recession's first 18 months - and that's before overtime pay and bonuses are counted. Federal workers are enjoying an extraordinary boom time - in pay and hiring - during a recession that has cost 7.3 million jobs in the private sector. The highest-paid federal employees are doing best of all on salary increases. Defense Department civilian employees earning $150,000 or more increased from 1,868 in December 2007 to 10,100 in June 2009, the most recent figure available. When the recession started, the Transportation Department had only one person earning a salary of $170,000 or more. Eighteen months later, 1,690 employees had salaries above $170,000."

Biden Senate seat looks shaky: "The Democrats' future in the U.S. Senate looks even gloomier following Delaware Attorney General Joseph R. "Beau" Biden's announcement on January 25 that he would not run for the seat vacated by his father, Vice President Joseph R. "Joe" Biden, Jr. Democrats at the national level, unnerved by a recent series of Republican victories in special elections, had looked to the younger Biden as their best hope for keeping both of the First State's Senate seats in Democratic hands. The refusal of the vice president's son to run for Senate in the nation's second-smallest state says a lot about the current political climate."

Another extremist adviser for Obama: "President Obama has picked to advise him on military actions inside the U.S. the Missouri governor whose state "Information Analysis Center" last year linked conservative organizations to domestic terrorism and said law enforcement officers should watch for suspicious individuals who may have bumper stickers from Ron Paul or Chuck Baldwin. Missouri Gov. Jeremiah Nixon, a Democrat, is being joined on the Obama's special advisory panel by the governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno, and Arizona Gov. Janice Brewer, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's replacement when she moved to Washington. They are among Obama's nominations for the 10 positions on Obama's new "Council of Governors" that he will use for advice on "military activities in the United States."

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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)



Malcolm said...

I note the article, "How Did Religion Evolve" and, without getting into any discussion about my personal beliefs, I must state that most of these studies suffer from a couple of basic defects. The first is that they examine the attitudes and behaviour of members of advanced modern religion, particularly monotheistic ones, when they should be examining the religions of hunter gatherers - or whatever should be assumed to be the earliest form of religion. Secondly, it is not much point in comparing the attitudes and reactions of the religious and the non-religious when the latter have been raised in a culture seeped in religion (and all cultures are), whose basic assumptions they are likely to have absorbed without noticing it.

Paul Kochendorfer said...

Re "How Did Religion Evolve" your "fundamental need to understand" is really an outgrowth of what is now considered a fundamental "seek reflex" which appears universal to all life forms. Just watch a dog sniff around, or a fish, or an ant. They are always blindly seeking, as are we. Religion would appear to provide the definitive answers sought to important questions that really have no answer.

Paul in Dana Point