Friday, July 27, 2012

Has Ron Unz built his castle on sand?

Among his many worthy attributes, Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative, is an expert on the statistics of Hispanic crime. He concludes that Hispanics are not as crime-prone as many people think.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to match his expertise and one reason why is that many of the available statistics that form the fodder for analysis of Hispanic crime are very likely hopelessly wrong. They are sandy ground on which to build anything.

I confess that I have myself used official U.S. census data to look at Hispanic crime but reflection tells me that I was pissing into the wind. Using surveys and censuses to study a group who have a fervent desire to stay beneath official notice is surely a foolish enterprise. A huge slice of the target group will simply be missed by surveys and censuses. It is presumably for that reason that the year 2000 US census showed only 0.7% of Mexican born males aged 18-35 as having a criminal record. And other Hispanic groups are similar. That compares with 3.04% of the male population as a whole in that age group. According to the census, Hispanics in the USA are super-law-abiding. You don't have to be very cynical to conclude from that that the boot is on the other foot: Only unusually law-abiding Hispanics fill out the census.

But Ron Unz does not confine his attention to surveys and censuses. He also uses what prison statistics he can get his hands on. So perhaps he still has something. If he does, Obama is a colossal liar.

Now I don't rule that out. I think Obama is only as honest as it suits him. But his oft-repeated claim that he deports 400,000 illegals a year has never been challenged to my knowledge and it is surely something that could fairly easily be challenged by anyone in touch with such matters if it were grossly inaccurate. It is, moreover, only a small increase over what was recorded in the Bush years. And Obama assures us not only that the deportees are all criminals but that they are SERIOUS criminals. Minor offenders are let off. But 400,000 is 3.3% of the approximately 12 million Hispanics in the USA. And that 3.3% is being repeated EVERY year. So over a 10 year period a THIRD of the Hispanic population would have been deported. So is it 33.3% of the Hispanic population rather than 0.7% who have criminal records?

I put the Obama claims to Ron Unz in correspondence and his reply was: "Relying upon the Obama deportation data as evidence of "serious criminality" is totally absurd: the deportations involve things like traffic tickets, driving without a license (illegals being unable to obtain licenses), or lying about immigration status"

So I guess it's his word against Obama's. Not an easy choice in the circumstances. Given Obama's obvious reluctance to deport, I find it hard to believe that he does so on trivial grounds. I am inclined to think that the Hispanic community would have rumbled him by now were he doing so -- JR


I posted the article above elsewhere yesterday so already have a reply to it from Ron Unz. He has emailed me the following curiously "ad hominem" reply as follows:

I do agree that if I'm correct then the public speeches of President Obama would be "colossal lies," though probably no more than the political rhetoric of most politicians.

However, perhaps being a psychometrician in Australia you are perhaps unfamiliar with the dynamics of the American criminal justice system. In particular, illegal immigrants who commit "serious crimes" are NOT immediately deported, and never have been. Instead, they are *prosecuted* and sent to prison. Sometimes, after they have finished their lengthy prison sentence (for a "serious crime"), they are then afterward deported.

Think a bit about it. Suppose an illegal immigrant raped or killed someone. If he were just deported instead of being punished, he might very well just sneak back again, and once he turned up in the same neighborhood, having escaped any punishment for his crimes, the public outcry would be enormous and all the responsible politicians would be defeated for reelection.

From what you say, you are a trained psychometrian and have every right to dispute my IQ analysis on technical grounds. If you invest some time and effort, you could certainly familiarize yourself with the detailed evidence on Hispanic crime rates to challenge my article (which, incidentally, has over the last couple of years persuaded pretty much everyone of an open mind).

But you make yourself look extraordinarily foolish when you take a political campaign phrase by President Obama that he has only been deporting illegal immigrants who are "serious criminals" to therefore conclude that at least 10% of all illegal immigrants are "serious criminals."

If you bothered reading any of the hundreds or thousands of major newspaper articles on this contentious subject, you would quickly see it was absurd. I'm not sure that I can think of even a single American-based rightwing blogger or writer---no matter how fanatically anti-immigrant or extreme in views---who has ever made the claim that you make.

I don't claim to be an expert on Australian society, but I'm sure if I'm tried I could take some random phrase by some local politican and use it to draw social conclusions which were utterly absurd and ridiculous, making me look like an idiot. I strongly suggest that you focus on your areas of expertise.

Ron Unz

My reply to the above was as follows:


So you are telling me that MY castle is built on sand because I live in Australia!

I don't think I was overlooking anything. I actually have a blog called "Gun Watch" that posts daily on American crimes of violence so I think I am pretty aware of what goes on in American courts. I think that does in its way give me some small expertise on the subject. I certainly read a lot of cases.

And a key observation is that most offenders receive only short jail terms, and under plea bargains, may spend no time in jail at all. So some offenders rack up a huge "rap sheet". In other words, there are a lot of "serious criminals" wandering around America.

One thing for certain is that ICE is very picky about whom they deport. They have too few resources to deport everyone who comes to light. And when people like sheriff Joe try to send them illegals they often delay until the offender has to be released.

So I actually support Obama's various edicts that only serious offenders who are presented to them should be deported. And such presentations can come off the street or at the time of jail release

So I see Obama as having a consistent and sensible policy that is the result of a lot of heavily contested political debate and believe what he says in this instance. It is core policy, not some random utterance

I presume that Ron Unz will now turn his data-analytical virtuosity to a dissection of Obama's deportation statistics. He would do us all a great favour if he did that. CIS already have a heap of data on immigration so with their help he should be able to get access to the raw data fairly readily, one imagines -- JR


The Leftist gospel that "There is no such thing as right and wrong" is now taught in all the schools and throughout society -- and we are surprised that a James Holmes emerges?

It's rather a wonder that Leftist mental poison has not produced more like him

Why is it that in the previous decades, when life was tougher, weapons were widespread, and the ratio of mental disorders was presumably the same, mass shootings were unheard of? Some would say that those people had not yet been corrupted by moral relativism, desensitized by Hollywood's fantasy violence and glorification of crime, or addicted to gory point-and-shoot videogames. All valid points -- yet one major reason hardly gets any notice.

The set of rules for war are different from the set of rules for peace. Wars have always been brutal and soul-sapping; while killing was the norm, there have also been rules to spare innocent civilians. The inhuman murder of a random group of defenseless innocents for no other reason than murder itself was never a part of war -- let alone of peace. What has changed in our 2,000-year-old Western civilization that makes it possible?

Admittedly, the major driving force of cultural change is the education system. Until recently, no generation of young Americans has been exposed to such a massive, centrally planned indoctrination based on the dehumanizing, soul-sapping "progressive" ideology. Accordingly, never before have students dropped out of school in such large numbers, with so confusing and conflicting views of the world and their place and purpose in it, with blurred perceptions of right and wrong, and infected with what I like to call "secondhand envy" and "phantom grievances" (which is similar to the Marxist concept of false consciousness, only not as far-fetched).

The radical "progressive" ideology (a broad term embracing many offshoots of Marxism) dehumanizes people more effectively than any violent point-and-shoot video game ever could. It pits various groups of people against one another by cultivating envy and grievances that are mostly imaginary and secondhand. In the politically correct book of "progress," man is judged no longer by the content of his character, but rather by the color of his skin, class, income, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or any other secondary attribute. The trick is that when a secondary attribute becomes the primary one, man loses his unique individuality and becomes a mere social function, a drone in a collective, a peg in the machine, a sacrificial animal on the altar of "progress."

"Progressivism" remains more or less benign as long it feeds off a wealthy nation. But as soon as the wealth is squandered and there are no surpluses left to redistribute, human sacrifice begins. The final argument behind every well-meaning "progressive" scheme is always a gun pointed at those unwilling to be enslaved or give up their property for redistribution. Planned mass murders and incarcerations of "enemies of the people" committed by every communist regime on the planet provide enough evidence of that. "Progressive" ideology denies moral absolutes, yet it assumes the moral authority to give a license to kill in the name of a delirious utopia.

In Russia, shortly after the October revolution, a Leninist newspaper published this, if you will, call for "progress":
We will make our hearts cruel, hard, and immovable... so that they will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood. We will let loose the floodgates of that sea. Without mercy, without sparing, we will kill our enemies in scores of hundreds. Let them be thousands; let them drown themselves in their own blood... let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois -- more blood, as much as possible.

According to speculative reports, the Aurora shooter James Holmes's clothing and methods bore some resemblance to the violent "Occupy Wall Street Bloc," and he may have been angered that the new Batman movie was an attack on his movement's noble cause. But whether his political leanings are confirmed or not, there's little doubt that this mentally disturbed student had been exposed to the "social justice" and "class strife" rhetoric in school.

These teachings are a near-mandatory supplement served to most American kids, explicitly or implicitly, courtesy of public education. Once in college, the intake of the "progressive" formula tends only to increase, involving heavy doses of every grievance man, woman, or beast has ever had from the beginning of time, factual or imaginary. All this is served up under the generic label of "social sciences."

So when a young college graduate's budding delusions begin to torment him with phantoms of horrific injustice and fictional causes, prompting him to shoot indiscriminately at the dehumanized mass of moviegoers while donning a comic book costume, is it really the fault of the National Rifle Association?

The ongoing gradual insertion of "progressive" memes into the comic book culture is a matter for another essay and, perhaps, another author. As far as the movies go, Hollywood has been demonizing "rich white America" as the formulaic villain in just about every "who-done-it" flick ever since the censure of Joe McCarthy. A sudden break from that direction in The Dark Knight Rises might well be perceived as treason, causing anger among many on the left. And if one is an anxious sociopath with a deadly weapon, who doesn't know right from wrong, truth from fiction, or a hero from a villain, who has learned all he knows from school, movies, and comic books, such a delirious loser may indeed want to stage a spectacular massacre in a movie theater, killing potential "enemy converts" and sending a warning to all the others.

In another time and place, James Holmes might be hailed as an idealistic revolutionary hero fighting for social causes. Che Guevara, anybody? How many revolutionary "heroes" of the past, now lionized on today's campuses, had been tormented by the same mental disorder that turned James Holmes into a mass murderer?

Che Guevara believed that "a revolutionary must become a cold killing machine motivated by pure hate." Che had killed many more than James Holmes did -- yet his life is glorified by Hollywood, his writings are published worldwide, and his pictures are plastered over the t-shirts of a new generation of American college kids, whom Che would not have hesitated to shoot given the chance.

Of these two delusional murderers, why does Che get a pass and Holmes doesn't? Because killing 12 strangers at a movie is a crime, while killing thousands of faceless class enemies is a statistic? Mental illness does terrible things to the mind regardless of ideology, turning the individual into a loose cannon. Throw a radical cause into the mix, and it quickly removes the safety lock and points the weapon in a certain direction.

Under Che's brief management, Cuban economy hit an all-time low, quickly declining from one of the wealthiest Latin American countries to one of the poorest. To accomplish that, Che murdered thousands of the bourgeois class standing in the way. If this isn't criminally insane, what is? Yet "progressive" educators in the U.S. continue to decorate classrooms with Che Guevara portraits and arrange "educational" school trips to Cuba. Sounds more like the mind-trip of a madman in an asylum run by the inmates.

Bill Ayers, who launched Barack Obama's political career in Chicago, in his younger days was a leader of a communist terrorist group Weather Underground, whose ideology he summed up as follows: "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home, kill your parents." According to DiscoverTheNetworks, their long-term goal was to cause the collapse of the United States, replacing it with a communist society over which they themselves would rule. The resistance would be sent to re-education camps and killed. Ayers and his comrades estimated that it would be necessary to eliminate some 25 million Americans in this fashion, so as to advance the revolution.

Ayers participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and of the Pentagon in 1972. In his 2001 memoir Fugitive Days, Ayers writes of the day he bombed the Pentagon: "Everything was absolutely ideal. ... The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them." He remembers his fascination with the fact that "a good bomb" could render even "big buildings and wide streets ... fragile and destructible," leaving behind a "majestic scene" of utter destruction. A comic book villain, anyone?

In his later days, Ayers realized that bombings were nothing compared to the damage he could inflict on the country through education of young, malleable minds. He dedicated his life to what he calls teaching for social justice as a professor of education. Supported by the left-dominated academic establishment, Ayers became a prominent member of and later vice president for curriculum studies at the American Educational Research Association (AERA), exerting great influence over what is taught in America's teacher-training colleges and, through indoctrination of a generation of teachers, its public schools.

While the gradual poisoning of the minds of American students is not as spectacular and doesn't lend itself to the silver screen as well as Joker-style terrorism, the utter destruction it leaves in its wake is beyond the dreams of a comic-book supervillain. With all the guessing and fingerpointing with regard to the Aurora shooting, no one is mentioning that James Holmes's disturbed mind may have been poisoned with the perverted concepts of "social justice" that have erased the value of individual human life through class envy, hatred, and falsely interpreted ideas of social duty. Since the age of five, he has been receiving social justice programming at the hands of California public school teachers and University of California professors.

Besides acting as a catalyst on a depressed mind, "progressive" education is also a cause of depression in itself. Imagine growing up while believing that yours is the worst country on the planet, guilty of death and suffering of millions of poor people worldwide, who are being wantonly killed, robbed, enslaved, raped, and tortured so that your mom can shop at the mall and your dad can fill up the tank. The species are dying, the rainforest is dwindling, the ozone hole is growing, and the globe is warming. If it is frightful enough to turn a sensitive adult into a guilt-ridden neurotic, think about a ten-year-old, who, in addition, has to live with the fear that if he doesn't die of skin cancer by the age of thirty, global warming and rising sea levels will finish everyone off anyway.

Could those educators who impose such insanity on their students please explain if there is anything, in their view, left in this world for our children to live for? Other than, of course, to continue the struggle for "progress"? But that is manifestly not a skill or a trait of character that will help them to become happy, self-sustaining, professional individuals. All it can do is replenish the cancerous growth that is consuming this society, replacing its productive and vibrant cells with mutated dysfunctional neoplasm.

At this point, we can only wonder if the injection of "progressive" hatred had aggravated Holmes's madness, but it surely had given him a frame of reference and the direction to channel his rage. Without it, perhaps, a certain amount of medication could help him to move on and focus on writing some shockingly dark, violent screenplays that demonize Western civilization, Christianity, capitalism, and family -- always a winner in the movie academy circles. Meanwhile, calls to ban firearms continue from the same people in the media, government, and cultural establishment who have themselves, to a varying degree, contributed to the dehumanization of our culture by destroying the traditional notions of right and wrong and, instead, cultivating the "progressive" notions of class strife, division, and envy.

It appears that James Holmes, as well as those before him and those who are yet to follow, are only unwitting tools in the hands of the real villainous Joker. Can you hear Bill Ayers's behind-the-scenes maniacal laughter yet?



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone 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)


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)


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Alger Hisses Forever

In today’s American Spectator, Jeffrey Lord refreshes our memories regarding the Alger Hiss/Whittaker Chambers controversy that graced the American political scene a few decades ago. At that time, New Deal progressives quickly and vehemently came to the defense of Hiss. That kind of reaction seems not at all unlike the vindictiveness establishment Republicans have recently exhibited by excoriating Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for her straightforward inquiries into the thoroughness of State Department security clearance vetting. As Lord asks in “Is Huma Abedin the New Alger Hiss?“:
Is Huma Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood what Alger Hiss was to the Soviet Union?

Why are Republican Senator John McCain, Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rodgers (R-MI) acting in the growing Abedin controversy as Washington Establishment Democrats of the 1940s did in the Hiss episode? Which is to say, writing off the dangers of a foreign enemy whose goal is to infiltrate the U.S. government — because, well, the people in question are part of the Washington Establishment?

And last but certainly not least, why is the Republican Establishment pursuing a losing strategy in the war against Islamic radicalism? Is it returning to the losing strategy it pursued during the Cold War — a strategy that was overturned over Establishment opposition by Ronald Reagan’s victorious “we win, they lose” strategy?

The article is well worth reading in its entirety for both its description of the current brouhaha and as an Alger Hiss controversy primer, including Richard Nixon’s treatment at the hands of the Establishment for his part in the Hiss investigation when he was a young Republican Congressman.

However, left out of the analysis is another major event associated with the Cold War that is not often mentioned nowadays: Nixon’s trip to China. If we consider China’s American-boosted rise as an industrial and military power, the Middle Kingdom’s seemingly incessant hostility towards the U.S. that includes continuing and ubiquitous espionage efforts, and ask ourselves what have the Chinese ever done that’s been to our strategic benefit, another question comes to my mind:

Was Henry Kissinger Richard Nixon’s Alger Hiss? Just wondering.



Proof! Establishment media is controlled by Democrat operatives

There was a rather low-key confession made in the New York Times last week that deserves to be blared throughout this country so that every American understands what they are reading in the establishment's ultra-controlled, government-managed "press" - and I use that last word loosely indeed.

The admission came in the form of a story by Jeremy Peters on the politics page of the Times July 16. I've been waiting for others to point it out, discuss it, debate it, express shock and exasperation over it. But I've waited for naught.

What this shocking story reveals is that even I - one of the kingpins of the new media and a refugee from the state-controlled spin machine - underestimated the utter and total corruption of the euphemistically called "mainstream press."

It shows that most - not some - members of the print media establishment with access to the White House submit their copy to government officials for review, "correction" and approval before it reaches the American people!

Even "progressive" WND columnist Ellen Ratner agrees - media under a spell! Here are some key excerpts from the piece, if you think I'm exaggerating:

"The quotations come back redacted, stripped of colorful metaphors, colloquial language and anything even mildly provocative."

"They are sent by e-mail from the Obama headquarters in Chicago to reporters who have interviewed campaign officials under one major condition: the press office has veto power over what statements can be quoted and attributed by name."

"Most reporters, desperate to pick the brains of the president's top strategists, grudgingly agree. After the interviews, they review their notes, check their tape recorders and send in the juiciest sound bites for review. The verdict from the campaign - an operation that prides itself on staying consistently on script - is often no, Barack Obama does not approve this message."

"Now, with a millisecond Twitter news cycle and an unforgiving, gaffe-obsessed media culture, politicians and their advisers are routinely demanding that reporters allow them final editing power over any published quotations."

"Quote approval is standard practice for the Obama campaign, used by many top strategists and almost all mid-level aides in Chicago and at the White House - almost anyone other than spokesmen who are paid to be quoted. (And sometimes it applies even to them.) It is also commonplace throughout Washington and on the campaign trail."

"Many journalists spoke about the editing only if granted anonymity, an irony that did not escape them."

"From Capitol Hill to the Treasury Department, interviews granted only with quote approval have become the default position. Those officials who dare to speak out of school, but fearful of making the slightest off-message remark, shroud even the most innocuous and anodyne quotations in anonymity by insisting they be referred to as a ‘top Democrat' or a ‘Republican strategist.'"

"Those [reporters] who did speak on the record said the restrictions seem only to be growing. ‘It's not something I'm particularly proud of because there's a part of me that says, Don't do it, don't agree to their terms,' said Major Garrett, a correspondent for The National Journal."

"It was difficult to find a news outlet that had not agreed to quote approval, albeit reluctantly. Organizations like Bloomberg, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, Reuters and The New York Times have all consented to interviews under such terms."

I could go on and on. I urge you to read the entire story. This may be the most important story broken by the New York Times in years.



News Versus Propaganda

Since so many in the media cannot resist turning every tragedy into a political talking point, it was perhaps inevitable that (1) someone would try to link the shooting rampage at the Batman movie in Colorado to the tea party movement, and that (2) some would try to make it a reason to impose more gun control laws.

Too many people in the media cannot seem to tell the difference between reporting the news and creating propaganda.

NBC News apparently could not resist doctoring the transcript of the conversation between George Zimmerman and the police after the Trayvon Martin shooting. Now ABC News took the fact that the man arrested for the shooting in Colorado was named James Holmes to broadcast to the world the fact that there is a James Holmes who is a member of the Tea Party in Colorado.

The fact has since come out that these are two different men, one in his 20s and the other in his 50s. But corrections never catch up with irresponsible news broadcasts. The James Holmes who belongs to the Tea Party has been deluged with phone calls. I hope he sues ABC News for every dime they have.

This is not the first time that the mainstream media have tried to create a link between conservatives and violence. Years ago, the Oklahoma City bombing was blamed on Rush Limbaugh, despite the absence of any evidence that the bomber was inspired by Rush Limbaugh.

Similar things have happened repeatedly, going all the way back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which was blamed on a hostile right-wing atmosphere in Dallas, even though the assassin had a long history of being on the far left fringe.

But, where the shoe is on the other foot -- as when the Unabomber had a much marked-up copy of an environmentalist book by Al Gore -- the media heard no evil, saw no evil and spoke no evil. If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly.

As for gun control advocates, I have no hope whatever that any facts whatever will make the slightest dent in their thinking -- or lack of thinking. New York's Mayor Bloomberg and CNN's Piers Morgan were on the air within hours of the shooting, pushing the case for gun control laws.

You might never know, from what they and other gun control advocates have said, that there is a mountain of evidence that gun control laws not only fail to control guns but are often counterproductive. However, for those other people who still think facts matter, it is worth presenting some of those facts.

Do countries with strong gun control laws have lower murder rates? Only if you cherry-pick the data.

Britain is a country with stronger gun control laws than the United States, and lower murder rates. But Mexico, Russia and Brazil are also countries with stronger gun control laws than the United States -- and their murder rates are much higher than ours. Israel and Switzerland have even higher rates of gun ownership than the United States, and much lower murder rates than ours.

Even the British example does not stand up very well under scrutiny. The murder rate in New York has been several times that in London for more than two centuries -- and, for most of that time, neither place had strong gun control laws. New York had strong gun control laws years before London did, but New York still had several times the murder rate of London.

It was in the later decades of the 20th century that the British government clamped down with severe gun control laws, disarming virtually the entire law-abiding citizenry. Gun crimes, including murder, rose as the public was disarmed.

Meanwhile, murder rates in the United States declined during the same years when murder rates in Britain were rising, which were also years when Americans were buying millions more guns per year.

The real problem, both in discussions of mass shootings and in discussions of gun control, is that too many people are too committed to a vision to allow mere facts to interfere with their beliefs, and the sense of superiority that those beliefs give them.

Any discussion of facts is futile when directed at such people. All anyone can do is warn others about the propaganda.



The Implicit Errors in Debts to Society Arguments

Suppose–purely hypothetically–a prominent politician uses the following argument to explain why we should pay more taxes:

"If you are rich, you relied upon background infrastructure, social norms, institutions, the rule of law, and so on, in making your money. In the state of nature, life would be nasty, poor, brutish, and short. But you life is pleasant, rich, civil, and long, thanks to these background institutions, many of which are provided by government. So, pay us more taxes."

These kinds of arguments try to establish that you owe a debt to society, and then try to establish that paying more taxes is the right way to repay this debt.

The problem is that they assume–without argument–that the society to which you owe a debt just happens to be the nation-state. There is no reason to assume that. In fact, it’s more plausible that my debts, if I have any, are both more local and more global than the nation-state.

Consider that I was educated in public schools in Tewksbury, MA, and Hudson, NH. I now drive on roads provided by certain counties in Virginia and by Washington, DC. Etc. If I owe a debt for my education, why think this indebts me to America (or the federal government) rather than Hudson, NH?

I benefit from the positive externalities created by an extended system of trade. Why think this indebts me to America (or the federal government) rather than almost the entire world?

Suppose I were to buy a loaf of bread. If I trace the history of that bread, Leonard Read “I, Pencil”-style, I’ll find that in producing the bread, a wide range of governmental services were used. These services come from local, state-wide, and federal governments, both domestic and foreign. It would be bizarre, then, to assume that in buying the loaf of bread, I acquire some special debt to the US Federal Government.

Another major error is to assume that people must repay their debts through taxes. I don’t know what Thomas Edison paid in taxes. But I can safely assume that he did more to repay his “debt to society” through his inventions than by paying taxes. A similar point will apply more weakly to many of the rest of us.

A final problem with the hypothetical politician’s argument is that it does not establish how much people should pay. The argument above (and the real-life argument to which I allude) do not tell us at all what marginal tax rates should be. Perhaps I owe the government 95% of my income. Perhaps I owe it 5%. The argument does not say. One might try to argue that I owe the government everything, since life would be lousy in the absence of government. But we could just as easily say that the government owes us everything, since it couldn’t function without us.

ADDENDUM: I forgot to list another mistake the argument makes. Consider that my kids probably owe me a debt for raising them. To repay that debt, when they are adults, they should probably at least visit or call once in a while. However, while they owe me this debt, I will not be entitled to force them to pay it. So, another problem with the debts to society argument for increased taxation is that it doesn’t establish that society may force us to pay our debts.




What’s not forbidden is mandated: "I was headed to the local county building department to try and obtain permission for my client to build a warehouse on a large piece of rural property that he owned. They call this permission a 'building permit,' and unless you are granted one of them by the local bureaucracy, it is a criminal offense to build. Both my client and I had recently jumped on a new fad in architectural design, that is, building out of used shipping containers. Economically speaking, the shipping container is a great architectural tool; it is large, spacious, structurally sound and you can buy them cheap. I had designed a warehouse for him which utilized two shipping containers to act both as main structural elements as well as large storage spaces. It was a design that was simple and economical, integrating an unrelated element into a unified package; in other words, it was innovative. And that's why we couldn't build it." (07/23/12)

Why governor calls shooter “Suspect A”: "Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper had the right idea when he refused to utter the suspected gunman's name in the Aurora multiplex theatre shootings that left 12 dead and 58 wounded. Instead of naming the alleged killer, Hickenlooper referred to him only as 'Suspect A.' At a prayer vigil Sunday, Hickenlooper read the names of each of the 12 people killed in the incident. After each name, the crowd repeated the refrain, 'We will remember.' ... 'We want to focus on the victims, survivors and first responders,' the governor's spokesman Eric Brown explained. 'Not the killer"


My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone 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)


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)


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Because of Obama-era bungling, you can't afford to retire

Unless you are a Federal government employee

Two reports released this week began to make clear the staggering costs to the U.S. economy of Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s zero-interest-rate policies. The first, from Standard and Poor’s, outlined the yawning funding gulfs in U.S. private sector pension schemes. The second, from the New York Fed, shows the astronomical growth in student debt. Both problems are likely to lead to huge costs in the future; neither would have occurred without Bernankeism.

The pension fund cost of Bernankeism is huge, and is growing not shrinking. Standard and Poor’s showed that the unfunded pension liability of the S&P 500 companies reached a record level of $354.7 billion in 2011, an increase of over $100 billion from the end of 2010 and $50 billion higher than the figure at the bottom of the bear market in 2008. There’s an additional $223 billion in underfunding in “other post-employment benefits,” some of which is undoubtedly due to rising medical coats, but much of which must also derive from poor investment returns.

Until the last few years, pension fund trustees could assume that the majority of underfunding was due to the sluggish stock market since 2000 and that a stock market recovery, combined with a modest increase in funding by the companies concerned would eliminate the problem. However the problem is much more fundamental than that. With interest rates at current levels, there is no way on God’s green earth that pension funds can earn the 7.5%- 8% returns that most actuaries have built into their calculations. The recent news from the giant California state funds, CALPERS and CALSTRS, that they had earned only 1% and 1.8% respectively in the year ended June 2011, hopelessly beneath their actuarially assumed rates of return of around 7.5%, shows that the problem is not confined to the corporate sector. Indeed, the problem in the public sector, in federal, state and local governments is an order of magnitude greater, with the U.S. social; security system having the biggest actuarial deficit of all.

Stock market returns are over the long term fundamentally related to the cost of money. If money is very cheap, as it has been since 2008 then even in an ultra-sluggish economy corporate profits will be very high, as will stock market levels (in relation to the unattractively performing economy.) That will reduce the level of returns that stock market investments can expect to command in the future. In 1990-2010, bonds yielded around 4.5% on average, while stock market returns averaged around 7.5%. Today, with bond yields below 2% for 10-year Treasuries, stock market returns can be expected to be only around 5%. Moodies recently announced that it would value pension obligations using an assumed rate of return of 5.5%; that still seems a touch too high, since pension funds invest in a mixture of bonds and stocks.

If pension funds put any reasonable proportion of their money in bonds yielding 2% (which to some extent they have to, for liquidity reasons) their chances of making 7-8% returns overall are negligible. Many pension fund trustees have in the last few years sought to hide this unpleasant truth from themselves by investing in “alternative assets” such as private equity, hedge funds and timberlands. As is becoming increasingly clear however, private equity investments and hedge fund investments are unable to achieve superior returns to the public market over the long run; they merely involve their investors in much higher risk, much lower liquidity and hugely higher management charges, which inevitably come out of the pockets of the funds investing in them. As a Harvard man, I instinctively knew the “Yale Model” involving much higher alternative asset investment was rubbish; this is why.

Thus Bernanke’s policy of keeping interest rates far below even the modest current rate of inflation and using “non-traditional means” to drive long-term rates down even further below their natural level, has caused an increasingly desperate if slow-moving crisis in the U.S. pension fund industry, both public and private sector. However the full cost of Bernankeism ranges far beyond the area of defined-benefit pension funds. While these have actuaries, and must report the holes in their funding to the world, the pension changes occurring since the 1990s have simply transferred the massive retirement funding risk to individuals. The inadequate funding of pensions has in those cases become inadequate funding of savings; the stern admonitions from the Pensions Benefit Guaranty Corporation have become gloomy days staring at a 401(K) savings plan that is hopeless to fund a reasonable retirement. What’s more, when the unfortunate plan-holder enquires from his plan provider what the inadequate amount of money will buy him as an annuity, he will be even more shocked, since ultra-low annuity rates mean that even sums of money that appear quite substantial buy annuities that are pathetic in their inadequacy.

A recent survey of Baby Boomers conducted by the builder Pulte Group showed that 61% planned to retire within 10 years, that only 14% said they would be financially unprepared to do so, and that 59% said they would not postpone retirement and might accelerate it. While the survey showed one encouraging trend, that boomers planned to retire at an average age of 67, compared with 63 twenty years ago, the overall trend of the survey was relentlessly positive about Baby Boomer finances. Interestingly the survey also said that Baby Boomers feel on average 15 years younger than they are -- which suggests that Baby Boomers are, on average, delusional.

Baby boomers who are approaching their relatively late retirement at 67 with $500,000 no doubt feel they are in pretty good shape. They will awaken from their reverie when they discover that one typical insurance company quotes that amount as purchasing an annuity of only $2,966 per month ($2,755 for women) with no pension for the surviving spouse or guaranteed minimum payout period. Doubtless most Baby Boomers faced with this shock will opt not to annuitize, hoping that between 67 and 74 or so, when their money runs out, they will graduate from feeling 15 years younger than their actual age to being dead, solving the problem. Delusional, as I said, but one can hardly blame them. The poor souls are victims of Bernanke’s ultra-low interest rates.

I have already discussed the Bernanke policies’ adverse effect on savings, and the consequent de-capitalization of the U.S. economy. By this means, the United States’ immense capital cost advantage against emerging markets has been eroded. Since the superiority of U.S. educational institutions is for the most part questionable at best, there is now little to prevent U.S. living standards being driven inexorably down towards those of China or India. Just as baby boomers may face the problem of a penurious old age thanks to Bernanke’s policies, younger Americans may face diminished earning ability or high unemployment or very probably both. Both the “stickiness” of wages on the downside and the ham-fisted and expensive attempts by politicians to solve the problem are likely to make the inevitable decline in living standards even worse than it needs to be.



The Obama version of "cost cutting"

Barack Obama has made it clear that he is a big believer in big government and has adopted a economic plan to run trillions of dollars in annual deficits for as long as possible. Obama remains steadfast against making any dramatic cuts in government spending and when pressed to announce some half-hearted effort to cut the size and the cost of government, his administration has resisted the cuts, and has transformed even the puniest efforts to cut federal spending into even greater demands upon taxpayer funds. The Obama Administration’s cost cutting efforts within federal agencies are so ineffective, they often cost taxpayers more than the savings originally proposed by the cuts.

Consider, for example, a recent Obama administration plan to consolidate data centers across the federal bureaucracy--an effort that they claim will save millions of dollars. However, close examination, by GAO and the DoD among others, shows that the cost of the implementation of data center consolidation for almost 24 agencies cost is likely to cost billions, that most of the federal agencies consolidating data centers haven't fully evaluated the total costs.

OMB estimated that " 30%-50% savings could be obtained" in operational costs through data consolidation efforts. However, OMB did not consider, on an agency-by-agency basis, the costs in manpower to transfer data and software from the IT servers located in various agencies throughout the country to the one location of the consolidated data center, nor the costs of the displaced IT persons within agencies who no longer provide IT support, nor the costs of the additional backup storage.

In addition to these increases in the operational costs for the agency, there is also the increase in the energy costs for the data centers to be considered. It turns out that a recent Congressional Research Survey (CRS) study shows that data centers consume "as much as 100 times the energy of a typical office building". In 2012, CRS estimates that costs for energy at consolidated data centers will run about $7.4 billion dollars annually. So, it seems that the Obama Administration is advocating spending $7.4 billion dollars annually to save $510 million. Can't they see what's wrong with that math?

Then, there is the complicated case of federal employee early retirement and buyouts which are occurring in several federal agencies. The U.S. Postal service is reporting that buyouts are expected for 7,400 postal employees. A buyout is where the government has deemed that the service level, capacity or task of a particular series of workers is unnecessary and can be eliminated without creating a negative impact on agency performance.

What often occurs, instead, is that federal employees with anywhere from 25 to 40 years of service who, already, were in the process of retiring, sign up for the buyout and are rewarded with an extra $15,000 to 25,000 for doing what they were planning on doing anyway.

Imagine, an entity such as the Postal Service, which is claiming that it can't afford to deliver mail 5 days a week, can afford to spend almost $150 million dollars this year on buyouts. Of course, taxpayers can also expect to pick up the costs of any of the Postal employees who then continue to receive retirement pay, averaging approximately $1.7 million in pay and benefits per retiree. Or, for those who take the buyout but can't find work, then the American taxpayer also face the possibility of paying for 99 weeks of unemployment in addition to the $15,000-$25,000 buyout. These expenditures are claimed as cost savings by the Obama administration.

Then there is the Obama administration's recent knee-jerk, political posturing in which the administration has canceled almost all federal meetings, conferences, and travel in a throw-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater cost cutting idiocy. In order for the government to cancel conferences at the last minute, many of which have already been issued contracts, the government is required to pay a "termination for the convenience of the government" penalty. These costs can range in the millions for each termination issued.

In addition to a termination penalty fee, the federal government must also pay for any special costs, such as the efforts of the business' contract lawyers, procurement and management professionals, partial goods ordered and severance costs for any persons involved. In fact, the termination costs can equal or exceed the amount of the original contract.

Recently, in the wake of the GSA conference and clown scandal, GSA canceled all travel and conferences, as did many other federal agencies. In addition to the down-the-stream costs to cities, hotels and travel service industries, the government has also paid and continues to pay millions in termination for convenience costs.

The Obama administration's intentions may be well-meaning. Certainly, in the midst of a heated election year, they are trying to avoid political scandal. And, without a doubt the administration is trying to claim that they are doing a good job saving taxpayer money, but this is just not true.

The Obama administration is not saving taxpayer dollars--in fact, their many different “cost cutting” initiative are actually resulting in greater spending.

Americans need to look carefully at the Obama administration's so-called energy-saving, budget-cutting, and efficiency efforts. Whether well-meaning incompetence or poor management, the reform mandates and cost cutting efforts of the Obama administration have not lived up to their hype and are costing the American taxpayer far more than is saved.

The Obama administration will be known as the biggest spender in our nation’s history and even the few half-hearted efforts launched to cut unneeded programs and reduce wasteful spending result in even greater taxpayers costs and a further expansion of government.



A small businessman answers back

Dear President Obama:

I’m still reeling from your recent remarks about small business owners in America. With one sweeping generalization, you stated that those of us who have had successful businesses did not earn that success. Instead, you insist that someone else made it happen for us. I’ve written to tell you my story in the hopes that you will see the foolishness of your unproven assertions.

Back in 1989, I decided to pursue a PhD in Criminology. I was nearing the end of my Master’s program in Psychology. I had a teaching assistantship that paid a mere $345 per month. I knew that I could not live on $345 per month for the minimum of three years I would need to finish my doctorate. I also knew that my parents would not be able to extend the same financial support they had so graciously extended while I was working on my Master’s degree. So I devised a plan to start a new business with just $1000 of initial investment.

My grandfather had passed away in December of 1988. In the late spring of 1989, my grandmother mailed me a check for $1000 that had been part of a life insurance policy payout issued upon my grandfather’s death. In the late summer of 1989, I met a graduate student by the name of Shannon Ruscoe. He had been playing tennis with my roommate Harry Wilson the day I met him. I was sitting in my living room playing a song by James Taylor when Shannon started singing along. After just a few minutes of listening to Shannon sing, I knew my life would never be the same again.

I called Shannon later that fall and asked if he wanted to get together and rehearse a few songs. We did. Within a few weeks we were hanging out at keg parties in places like Starkville’s College Station apartment complex. After a few beers, I would go to my car and get my 12-string. As our repertoire increased, so did Shannon’s confidence as a singer.

After a few months of getting to know Shannon, I laid out a plan. I found a beautiful Alvarez six-string with a cedar top and black jacaranda back and sides. I realized I could buy the guitar and install a Martin thin-line pickup under the bridge for just $700. With the remaining $300, I told Shannon that, for just $30 per night, we could rent a PA system from our friend Jim Beaty, the owner of Backstage Music in Starkville. The idea was that after playing free ten times we could start to earn a living as musicians.

First, we had to find a place to play. Fortunately, a Kappa Sigma named Mike worked as a manager at J.C. Garcia’s – a Mexican restaurant/bar that featured acoustic acts including the legendary Jeff Cummings and Jeffrey Rupp. We went to see him with an offer, telling Mike we would play at J.C’s free of charge on a Tuesday night, but only on one condition: if they sold $2000 worth of liquor, they would have to hire us the next week for 10% of the liquor sales, or $200.

Mike laughed. J.C.s had never sold $2000 worth of liquor on a Tuesday night, which was generally their slowest night of the week. Naturally, he felt he had nothing to lose. So we book our first gig at a real restaurant in a real college town.

I called all of my old friends at the Sigma Chi house and told them to show up at J.C’s the following Tuesday night. Shannon told all the girls at the Chi Omega house where he worked as a “house boy” in his spare time. As a result of our marketing, we packed the place out. J.C’s sold over $2000 in liquor that night and we were invited to come back the next week.

Playing free at keg parties also paid off. Later, by May of 1990, we were getting hired to play private parties. At one of those parties, we met the manager of the Bully III, a restaurant/bar near downtown Starkville. His name was David Lee Odom. He upped our salary to $250 per night plus free dinner and free beer. By the time I graduated, I would play in that bar over 100 times. It was there that I met other musicians and eventually had a chance to play all over the state and region. As a businessman and friend, Dave Odom changed our lives forever.

After Shannon moved to Nashville in 1991, I decided it was time to rely on the government for financial support. I’m just kidding. I simply went out and found another great singer named Anne Ford. We would play together until 1993. Our act was so successful that in April of 1993, my last full month of college, we played a whopping 22 gigs in just 30 days.

As the result of my business venture I was able to graduate with a PhD without taking out a single student loan. And it was a business venture. I was not just a guitarist. I booked most of our gigs, handled equipment purchases, and did a modest bit of accounting.

The irony is that, back in those days, I was a Democrat with socialist leanings. I voted for Dukakis and Clinton as the “lesser of two evils” – all the while complaining about the lack of a far-left alternative. Shortly thereafter, I would get involved in a two-year relationship with the daughter of the head of the Socialist Party of Ecuador. I simply failed to reconcile the discrepancies between my theoretical view of the world and my real world experiences. Eventually, I grew out of my childish socialist mindset and realized that capitalism had allowed me to utilize my God-given talents to earn a living government could never provide.

Someday, Mr. President, you’ll grow out of it, too.


Dr. Mike S. Adams



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone 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)


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)


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The knee-jerk brigade: Everything is the responsibility of someone else

After he booby-trapped his apartment with explosives, James Holmes walked into a theater Friday night and opened fire on a crowd waiting to see the first showing of the new Batman movie. He shot scores and murdered a dozen. Holmes acted for reasons unknown, but his actions were pure evil.

His actions also were his alone. It doesn’t matter if he was bullied as a kid, recently dumped or whatever else anyone comes up with as a possible motive. Nothing “caused” him to do this other than whatever evil lives inside him.

But that hasn’t stopped many progressive liberals in and out of the media from speculating wildly, and seemingly hopefully, as to his motives and his political affiliation. It hasn’t stopped them from using this event as a platform to score political points on the issue of gun control. It’s sickening … and typical.

George Stephanopoulos and Brian Ross of ABC News started the speculation with the following exchange on Good Morning America:

"GS to BR: “You found something that might be significant.” (Emphasis added)

BR: “There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, ah, page, ah, on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes, but this is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.”"

The Jim Holmes Brian Ross “found” is a Hispanic man in his mid-50s, but he was associated with the Tea Party, so the story was simply too good to bother checking the facts. He’s a Tea Partier, therefore …

Ross later corrected his foolishness with a tweet saying “Earlier I reported incorrectly that the shooting suspect might be tied to the Tea Party. I apologize for the mistake.” But we still don’t know why Stephanopoulos thought this information “might be significant.”

What if he were? Does that make every Tea Party member a co-conspirator? Of course not, but that wouldn’t have stopped a lot of media members from reporting it as if it did. They’ve done it before. Who can forget that it was cross-hairs on a map on Sarah Palin’s website that caused psychopathic shooter Jerald Lee Loughner to go on his rampage in Tucson? And who can forget the media reaction when it was discovered he never saw Palin’s website and was, in fact, a Bush-hating anti-war zealot? That’s right … crickets.

On Friday, leftists immediately took to Twitter to blame Rush Limbaugh, the Tea Party, Mitt Romney and conservatives in general. Blame was being flung everywhere except where it belonged – James Holmes.

What is it about leftists that causes them to immediately assume the worst of those with whom they disagree? What does it say about them that after the dust settles, much of the time, those who commit heinous acts actually share their political philosophy?

The former exposes the desperation and lack of character that surrounds a political philosophy that seeks to make you responsible for everyone but yourself. The latter says nothing about them as a whole because individuals are responsible for their own actions.

It’s our curse that we stay true to our philosophy while they will abandon any principle at any time to score points.

Not to be outdone, film critic Roger Ebert wrote in the New York Times:

"That James Holmes is insane, few may doubt. Our gun laws are also insane, but many refuse to make the connection. The United States is one of few developed nations that accepts the notion of firearms in public hands. In theory, the citizenry needs to defend itself. Not a single person at the Aurora, Colo., theater shot back, but the theory will still be defended."

The theater in Aurora, of course, has a ban on guns, which law-abiding citizens observe. This is why no one shot back. Had someone been carrying a legal gun, who knows what would’ve happened?

But do we really need to make a case for gun control before any of the victims are buried? Salman Rushdie thinks so, tweeting that morning, “The ‘right to bear arms’ is the real Bane of America.” Mr. Rushdie, who spent years in hiding from a “fatwa” placed on him by the Ayatollah Khomeini and enjoyed the protection of armed guards during much of that time, saw no irony or lack of tact in his tweet. He simply replied, “No, thank you” when journalists emailed him for further comment.

Mr. Ebert, on the other hand, lives in Chicago, a city that’s seen 27 gun-related murders this month alone while having some of the most restrictive gun control laws in the country. You’d think he’d be aware of this, but pointing it out doesn’t advance his leftist agenda. He’d rather all America become as “safe” as Chicago.

Ebert’s knee-jerk response not only expresses a complete disregard for our Constitution (nothing new for Democrats), it shows a lack of common sense and decency. Rushdie never has been known for his love of much beyond himself. The exchange between Ross and Stephanopoulos shows us just what mainstream media types think of those with whom they disagree.

But none of this left-wing exploitation of tragedy changes the fact that James Holmes acted alone, for reasons we’ll most likely never know nor understand. Even if he’d been a Tea Party member, the Tea Party would’ve been no more to blame than, say, President Obama for giving us an economy in which Holmes was unable to find work or succeed.

No government action ever will outlaw crazy or evil, and no ceding of liberty to government ever will stop an individual from perpetrating their sickness on innocent victims.

It just happens. And the person who does it is responsible.



The Dark Knight Movie Massacre & Why I Carry a Gun Everywhere I Go

Doug Giles

I would venture to guess that the folks filing in to see the latest Batman installment in Aurora, Colorado last Thursday evening didn’t figure on over 70 of them getting shot before the credits rolled. The last count I received before filing this column was 12 dead and 59 wounded.
As the news starting pouring in about what happened in the theater this week when Satan’s spawn James Holmes donned Kevlar and a small battery of weapons and opened fire on an unsuspecting crowd, I kept thinking, “One fast-thinking and trained person who was armed/licensed with a concealed weapon could have stopped that SOB right in his tracks before the body count skyrocketed.”

Yep, the armed citizen could have either killed him, sent him running for cover, or at least diverted his fire away from the masses and toward their person. Some readers, no doubt, are saying, “Well that would be stupid. What if that citizen got shot trying to protect others?” To that I reply: Well, Dinky, if they would have been shot and killed at least they would have died a hero. Have you ever heard of the term “hero”?

The Aurora Dark Knight Massacre is exactly why I carry at least one gun everywhere I go—because crap always happens when you least expect it. That’s why, as responsible citizens and gun owners, we must always be ready and must always expect it because when it happens, it happens fast; if you’re not ready, you and others are screwed.

For instance, it’s a beautiful and quiet day on Miami Beach this morning. I’m drinking my coffee at an outdoor cafe, minding my own business while I work on this column and on my website. I don’t see any bath salt zombies on the prowl. There are no Trench Coat Mafia wannabes lurking around. There is no real foreseeable reason to carry a weapon. But I am. The reason? Well, I’m not omniscient. I’m just a dumb clunk living in a jacked-up world where med school students go bat crap crazy and shoot up normally peaceful places for inexplicable reasons. Therefore, I’m locked, cocked and ready to rock should some demented dill weed decide to strafe the local patrons sipping a cup of Joe.

For those who say, “Doug’s insane with all this concealed weapons crap. We should leave such affairs to the police,” allow me to point out that the theater was crawling with cops for the Batman opening to control the crowds. By the time the police got to the particular theater, it was all over. Blood was already running down the aisles and the gunman had already left the building. You, my friend, are your first responder … your first line of defense.

Look, stuff happens when and where you don’t think it’ll happen. My recommendation to you, the good citizen, is to get equipped with a gun—a fire-breathing dragon of a weapon. Get proficient with it. Make it like a cell phone: an additional appendage to your body. And then pray that you’ll never have to use it. However, should you be in line at the grocery store, or at Chili’s eating a burger, or at a park playing football with your homies, and some James Holmes wannabe shows up carting an arsenal and quoting Kafka as he shoots kids … you’ll be ready. Simply find cover if you can, draw your weapon, take a fine bead, and double tap the center mass of the murderous jackass. Should he or she have a bulletproof vest on then pull your sight picture up to the perp’s noggin and shoot him or her in the head; it’ll explode like a watermelon. You’ll feel bad for a nanosecond. But then the cops and families will show up and thank you for putting Jack the Ripper down. The end.



Obama's destructive crackdown on first jobs

John Stossel

What was your first job? I stuck pieces of plastic and metal together at an Evanston, Ill., assembly line. We produced photocopiers for a company called American Photocopy. I hated the work. It was hot and boring. But it was useful. It taught me to get good grades in school so I might have other choices.

Four years later, good grades got me a job as a researcher at a TV station. To my surprise, that became a career. I never planned to be a TV reporter. I hadn't even watched TV news. I never took a journalism course. But by showing up and trying stuff, I found a career.

I write about this because I'm appalled watching politicians kill off "first" jobs. (They say it's to protect us.)

First, they raise the minimum wage. Forcing employers to pay $7.25 an hour leaves them reluctant to give unskilled kids a chance -- why pay more than a worker can produce? So they offer fewer "first" jobs.

On top of that, the Obama Labor Department has issued a fact sheet that says free internships are only legal if the employer derives "no immediate advantage" from the intern.

Are you kidding me? What's the point of that? I want interns who are helpful!

The bureaucrats say they will crack down on companies that don't pay, but that's a terrible thing to do.

Unpaid internships are great. They are win-win. They let young people experiment with careers, and figure out what they'd like and what they're good at. They help employers produce better things and recruit new employees.

I've used interns all my career. They have done some of my best research. Some became journalists themselves. Many told me: "Thank you! I learned more working for you than I learned in college, and I didn't have to pay tuition!

I could have paid them, but then I would have used fewer interns. When I worked at ABC, the network decided to pay them -- $10 an hour -- but it also cut the number of internships by half. Politicians don't get it. Neither do most people. Polls show that Americans support raising the minimum wage. Most probably also support limits on unpaid internships, believing that they replace paid work. But they don't.

OK, sometimes they do. But the free exchange of labor creates so many good things that, in the long run, more jobs are created and many more people get paid work -- and we get better work.

But American politicians think they "protect" workers by limiting employers' (and workers') choices and giving handouts to the unemployed.

Outside a welfare office near Fox News, I was told that because of high unemployment, there are no jobs: "There's nothing out there. Nothing." I asked my team to check that out. They walked around for two hours, and within a few blocks of that welfare office they found lots of businesses that want to hire people. On the same block where I was told that there are no jobs, a store manager said he was desperate for applicants. "We need like two or three people all the time."

Of the 79 businesses that we asked, 40 said they would hire. Twenty-four said they would take people with no experience. All wished more people would apply.

I told German Munoz, a recent high school graduate, about one of the jobs offered, at a soul food restaurant. He went there and was hired to wash dishes for minimum wage. Within a few days, he was promoted to busboy -- then to waiter. Now, two weeks later, he makes twice the minimum wage. German doesn't want a career as a waiter, but he says it's great having a real first job.

"I meet successful people, and they give good advice and tips on how to become successful. I love it. I love going there every day and learning new stuff. It is like a stepping stone," he said. Exactly.

Low-wage first jobs are indispensable for both personal advancement and social progress. Our best hope for prosperity is the free market. Government must get out of our way and allow consenting adults to create as many "first" jobs as possible.



Republican Governors Show the Way

If we as a nation want to know what it will take to get back on track, we need look no further than what Republican Governors are doing throughout the country. The principles they are following are the key to our salvation and lead down the exact opposite road Barack Obama and the Democrats want to take to go “FORWARD.”

Bob McDonnell, Chairman of the Republican Governors Association, is a case study in the laser beam focus on two main principles that GOP chief executives are following: 1) balance the budget by cutting spending, and 2) do not raise taxes. McDonnell ran for office in 2009 during the first year of the Obama Administration seeking to succeed Governor Tim Kaine, then serving as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In a harbinger of voter disapproval of Democratic policies taking place nationwide (as evidenced in the midterms the following year), McDonnell won his election in a 17-point landslide, though Obama won the state by 6 points in 2008—a 23 point swing.

McDonnell then proceeded to do just what he said he would. While President Obama and the Democrats were passing the $800 billion Stimulus Bill, pushing through the brand new Obamacare entitlement, adding 100,000 new employees to the already bloated 2.8 million federal government worker rolls, and racking up a record $1.5 trillion deficits, Virginia was making the tough choices, slashing spending and balancing its budget. The results speak for themselves. Unemployment in the Dominion State has dropped to 5.6%, two and half points below the national average, and Virginia ranks number three in CNBC's rankings of the top states to do business. It should be noted that eight of the top ten best states to do business are run by Republican Governors.

GOP Governors around the nation have stepped up and have been making the tough calls with a fierce determination to get their states back on a healthy fiscal footing. It’s meant taking on some of the most powerful interests in their states. Of course Scott Walker in Wisconsin is a Profile in Courage in this regard in his stand against government employee unions. Other first term Republican Governors like Chris Christie in New Jersey, John Kasich in Ohio, and Nikki Haley in South Carolina are living up to their campaign pledges, taking on the special interests and balancing their budgets, by cutting spending and not raising taxes.

As at the state level, the Republicans have a viable plan with the Ryan Budget, which passed the House and Mitt Romney supports. It follows the basic principles being implemented by Republican Governors around the nation: cut spending and do not raise taxes. The true way “FORWARD” could not be clearer.



My identity: jonjayray. I have deleted my old Facebook page as I rarely accessed it. For more blog postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, GUN WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, EYE ON BRITAIN and Paralipomena

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone 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)


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)


Monday, July 23, 2012

USA: The Next Detroit?

By Porter Stansberry

One of the most important things to remember about socialism – or coercion of any kind – is it fails eventually because human beings have an innate desire for liberty and a strong need for personal property rights. In fact, the origins of government lie in the need of agricultural communities to protect themselves from violence and theft. So it is particularly ironic that in more recent times, it is government itself that has more frequently played the role of bandit.

When you start taxing people at extreme rates to pay for socialist "benefits," when you start telling them which schools their children must attend, when you start giving jobs away to people based on race instead of ability… you quash human freedom, which bogs down productivity and if continued for long enough leads to social collapse.

I find it perplexing that only 20 years after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the West continues to implement laws that mimic all of the failed policies of our former "communist" foes. Our current president won the election by promising to "spread the wealth around." But… truth be told… we don't have to look to Eastern Europe or the Soviet Union to find a society destroyed by coercion, socialism, and the overreaching power of the State. We could just look at Detroit…

In 1961, the last Republican mayor of Detroit lost his re-election bid to a young, intelligent Democrat, with the overwhelming support of newly organized black voters. His name was Jerome Cavanagh. The incumbent was widely considered to be corrupt (and later served 10 years in prison for tax evasion). Cavanagh, a white man, pandered to poor underclass black voters.

He marched with Martin Luther King down the streets of Detroit in 1963. (Of course, marching with King was the right thing to do… It's just Cavanagh's motives were political not moral.) He instated aggressive affirmative action policies at City Hall. And most critically, he greatly expanded the role of the government in Detroit, taking advantage of President Lyndon Johnson's "Model Cities Program" – the first great experiment in centralized urban planning.

Mayor Cavanagh was the only elected official to serve on Johnson's task force. And Detroit received widespread acclaim for its leadership in the program, which attempted to turn a nine-square-mile section of the city (with 134,000 inhabitants) into a "model city." More than $400 million was spent trying to turn inner cities into shining new monuments to government planning. In short, the feds and Democratic city mayors were soon telling people where to live, what to build, and what businesses to open or close. In return, the people received cash, training, education, and health care.

The Model Cities program was a disaster for Detroit. But it did accomplish its real goal: The creation of a state-supported, Democratic political power base. The program also resulted in much higher taxes – which were easy to pitch to poor voters who didn't have to pay them. Cavanagh pushed a new income tax through the state legislature and a "commuter tax" on city workers.

Unfortunately, as with all socialist programs, lots of folks simply don't like being told what to do. Lots of folks don't like being plundered by the government. They don't like losing their jobs because of their race.

In Detroit, they didn't like paying new, large taxes to fund a largely black and Democratic political hegemony. And so in 1966, more than 22,000 middle- and upper-class residents moved out of the city.

But what about the poor? As my friend Doug Casey likes to say, in the War on Poverty, the poor lost the most. In July 1967, police attempted to break up a late-night party in the middle of the new "Model City." The scene turned into the worst race riot of the 1960s. The violence killed more than 40 people and left more than 5,000 people homeless. One of the first stores to be looted was the black-owned pharmacy.

The largest black-owned clothing store in the city was also burned to the ground. Cavanagh did nothing to stop the riots, fearing a large police presence would make matters worse. Five days later, Johnson sent in two divisions of paratroopers to put down the insurrection. Over the next 18 months, an additional 140,000 upper- and middle-class residents – almost all of them white – left the city.

And so, you might rightfully ask… after five years of centralized planning, higher taxes, and a fleeing population, what did the government decide to do with its grand experiment, its "Model City"? You'll never guess…

Seeing it had accomplished nothing but failure, the government endeavored to do still more. The Model City program was expanded and enlarged by 1974's Community Development Block Grant Program. Here again, politicians would decide which groups (and even individuals) would receive state funds for various "renewal" schemes. Later, Big Business was brought into the fold. In exchange for various concessions, the Big Three automakers "gave" $488 million to the city for use in still more redevelopment schemes in the mid-1990s.

What happened? Even with all their power and money, centralized planners couldn't succeed with any of their plans. Nearly all of the upper and middle classes left Detroit. The poor fled, too. The Model City area lost 63% of its population and 45% of its housing units from the inception of the program through 1990.

Even today, the crisis continues. At a recent auction of nearly 9,000 seized homes and lots, less than one-fifth of the available properties sold, even with bidding starting at $500. You literally can't give away most of the "Model City" areas today. The properties put up for sale last week represented an area the size of New York's Central Park. Total vacant land in Detroit now occupies an area the size of Boston. Detroit properties in foreclosure have more than tripled since 2007.

Every single mayor of Detroit since 1961 has been a Democrat. Every single mayor of Detroit since 1974 has been black. Detroit has been a major recipient of every major social program since the early 1960s and has received hundreds of billions of dollars in government grants, loans, and programs. We now have a black, Democrat president, who is promising to do to America as a whole what his political mentors have done to Detroit.

Those of you with a Democratic political affiliation may think what I've written above is biased or false. You may think what you like. But there is no way to argue that what the government has done to Detroit is anything but a horrendous crime. You may think what I've written above is merely a political analysis. Perhaps so, but politicians drive macroeconomic policy. And macroeconomic policy determines key financial metrics, like the trade-weighted value of a currency and key interest rates.

The likelihood America will become a giant Detroit is growing – rapidly. Politicians now control the banking sector, most of the manufacturing sector (including autos), a large amount of media, and are threatening to take over health care and the production of electricity (via cap and trade rules). These are the biggest threats to wealth in the history of our country. And these threats are causing the world's most accomplished and wealthy investors to actively short sell the United States – something that is unprecedented in my experience.



7.6 Mil May Lack Coverage If No Medicaid Expansion

Because of the Supreme Court's ruling on ObamaCare, up to 7.6 million adults may not have access to Medicaid coverage according to an IBD analysis of data from the Urban Institute. That could potentially leave far fewer people with coverage than proponents of the health care law have claimed.

ObamaCare required states to expand their Medicaid programs to include all adults up to 138% of the federal poverty level starting in 2014. Prior to ObamaCare, few states covered childless adults and many covered parents at rates below 100% FPL.

Yet the Court ruled that the federal government may not force states to expand their Medicaid programs, leaving many state governments in limbo.

"It's going to be a fiasco," said Drew Gonshorowski, a policy analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "It's a lose-lose for states. ObamaCare was poorly constructed, and so states now have a choice of opting in to an expensive, insolvent system or opting out and being accused of leaving their citizens uninsured."

Eleven states including Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin are opposed to expansion or are leaning in that direction. They, along with 22 states that are undecided, were included in the IBD analysis.

The analysis only included adults below 100% of the FPL because due to a glitch in ObamaCare, adults at 100%-138% FPL in a state that does not expand Medicaid are eligible for tax credits to buy private insurance via an exchange.

The 7.6 million adults below the poverty line will have difficulty getting private coverage, states January Angeles, a senior policy analyst at the liberal Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. These Americans would not be eligible for ObamaCare tax subsidies.

"These are people with income below the poverty line, with limited financial means," she said. "Purchasing insurance in the private market will be very difficult. It might be the choice between getting health insurance or paying their rent. So we would hope most states, if not all, choose to expand Medicaid."

Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington have announced they plan to go ahead with the expansion or are seriously considering it.

Yet states face costs for expanding Medicaid that the federal government won't pay for. Heritage estimated those costs would run about $12 billion from 2014 to 2020.

While acknowledging that states face such costs, Angeles says that expansion is still a good deal for the state.

"The federal government pays 100% of the cost for the newly eligible people for the first three years, and 90% of the cost in 2020 and beyond," she said. "Additionally, states might see savings in other areas of their budgets, such as the money they spend on uncompensated care."

But Gonshorowski warns, "This could result in a lot of headaches for states. We already have access problems with Medicaid. Plus, with the federal budget in a mess, don't be surprised if there is eventual pressure on states to pick up more of the cost of the expansion."

Regardless, states that do not expand their Medicare coverage will likely result in an expansion of the number of people left uninsured under ObamaCare. The Congressional Budget Office initially estimated that about 26 million people would be left uninsured by ObamaCare. The CBO will release new ObamaCare budget estimates soon.

Even if 7.6 million adults do not have access to Medicaid coverage, the uninsured may not increase by a similar amount. The CBO previously assumed that 6-7 million uninsured would be people who were eligible for Medicaid but did not enroll. There may be some overlap between the two groups.



ObamaCare is now Unenforceable

Last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare. It was the 33rd such vote taken by the House and, since Democrats control the Senate, no more likely to be successful than the first 32.

The day before the vote, however, the House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony that highlighted another, more promising way to override the health care law: Americans can refuse to comply with its command that they obtain government-approved medical coverage, which the Supreme Court has deemed a mere suggestion even though it is essential to the legislation's goals. Furthermore, if ObamaCare objectors take a simple precaution, they can opt out without paying the prescribed penalty.

ObamaCare requires insurers to take all comers and charge them the same rates, regardless of health. Those rules create two problems that reinforce each other: They raise premiums, and they encourage people to delay buying medical coverage until they're sick.

But in upholding this mandate last month, the Supreme Court said it could not be justified under the Commerce Clause, instead redefining it as an exercise of the tax power. It is perfectly legal to go without the health insurance that Congress thinks you should have, the Court said, as long as you pay the "tax" imposed on people who reject the government's recommendation. That interpretation creates new challenges for ObamaCare.

Even paying the penalty is effectively optional, because Congress, for political reasons, barred the Internal Revenue Service from using its most effective tools -- liens, forfeiture and prosecution -- to collect it. As The Associated Press recently explained, the IRS, confronted by uninsured taxpayers who refuse to pay the penalty, must instead resort to "scary letters and threats to withhold tax refunds."

How effective will those letters be once taxpayers realize the threats are empty? They can even avoid having the money taken out of their refunds by adjusting their withholding or estimated tax payments so that they come out even (or owe a little) at the end of the year. In practice, no refund means no penalty.

After ObamaCare was enacted in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office projected that some 4 million Americans would choose to pay a penalty in 2016 rather than comply with the health insurance mandate. Testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee last week, Steven G. Bradbury, who headed the White House Office of Legal Counsel under George W. Bush, argued that number "will be considerably greater" once people understand they have no legal obligation to buy coverage. In fact, since the penalty is essentially unenforceable, it is possible that it won't produce any revenue to speak of, which would make it an odd tax indeed.



A medical analogy for the American economy

It could be close to collapse without anybody knowing it -- not unlike the old Soviet system

As far as the economy (is concerned), all these attempts at regulation are in response to people making selfish, manipulative, immoral decisions. I’ve worked in healthcare which is highly regulated, and I have seen the regulations pile on and on over the years. I’ve also seen how easily people circumvent them, in the spirit if not the letter. I don’t think there’s any external substitute for people who have learned integrity from childhood.

I’ve been thinking of the economy as much like a human body: very complex with many interactions and systems to maintain homeostasis when one thing changes. Like the economy, there can be a lot of compensation over a long time before the ability to compensate runs out and there is some form of collapse. I’ve seen a person gradually put on hundreds of pounds of fluid before going in to acute heart failure and then wonder how that could happen so suddenly. I’ve also seen people get unusually thirsty and drink sugared pop for months til they were “suddenly” in a coma from a blood sugar of 1200.

OK. You have the collapse, and you do all the things that have worked in the past: drugs, IV’s, education. You get the patient stabilized (Low interest rates, stimulus, recapitalizing banks, etc.) Now, unless you can fix the underlying problem (reform labor markets, wean the system off being so dependent on credit, allow bankruptcies and foreclosures to proceed expeditiously), you’re left with giving drugs (more stimulus, low interest rates for an extended time), some of which cause side effects that create more problems and require more intervention. If the patient doesn’t take the medicine the right way, or refuses to follow advice about diet, exercise, etc, things gradually get worse and it’s more and more difficult to stabilize the patient. Death ensues.

I see the economy being at the stage of compensation using a lot of interventions that will cause more and more problems if they are maintained long-term, and no willingness to do the things that will improve things in the long run. In other words, I’m as pessimistic as you and have been ever since I first did research to try to understand what was happening in ’07.


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


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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)