Friday, January 19, 2018

A Theoretical Deconstruction of Liberalism

The basis of liberalism needs to be inspected and a complete autopsy performed on this disease. We ought to begin the dissection of liberalism by examining one of their most celebrated (and intellectually dishonest), tenets: egalitarianism.

Among the numerous, many incoherent, fluid versions of the term egalitarianism we learn that “everyone ought to be equal in economic and social opportunity.” One might think this an obvious and noble goal until the political and economic mechanisms of the implementation of this concept are inspected closely. Here, as is most usual, we find the inevitable link to communism where such an egalitarian doctrine specifies that everyone is supposed to enjoy material equality. That did work in Cambodia and North Korea according to certain notions of equality. Dead people are equal-- at least in a political sense. Noting that 100,000,000 people died as a direct result of this energetic far-leftist political notion, we can only show contempt for such a preposterous idea. People are not equal and probably shouldn’t be in any case. There is no way for the far-left and Marxists to gain equality without mass murder and/or confiscatory taxes or both and this theory is built into egalitarianism.

The snake oil theoretical basis of egalitarianism is touted by the understandable observation that material inequality is pervasive in the current economic systems globally. How novel! This corresponds with every worldwide observation dating back least 4000 years BCE with no contrary examples. The spurious details of egalitarianism start to brighten to the observer when it is made very clear that some method of forced material redistribution is necessary and mandatory for realization of this concept. Here is where the problems begin. The eternal quest for a governing body to exercise absolute coercive powers of material redistribution upon the masses have been tested, in limited numbers, by certain dictatorial political operatives thus producing the very inequalities of political power and inhuman coercion of the polis in exactly the manner that they complain about in their phony manifesto.

As in the French Revolution, “…the second most important event in history according to Lenin (or was that Stalin?),” there was no limit to the abuses of the Bolsheviki and their lackeys could use in grabbing material wealth and wholesale murder and genocide and wasting it in failed social projects doomed to disappointment due to the intrinsic faults in the general theory. 20,000,000 Kulaks were murdered, several million Ukrainians were starved and some 30 million Russians died to support this concept of egalitarianism. The wealth in those cases were merely transferred to the Marxist elites and shared within their ‘Communist Party.’ They promptly exhausted these resources and hid away money in Swiss bank accounts. The USSR collapsed in 1989. But, there is no apology from the left for these actions and no call for something like a Russian War Crimes Tribunal to investigate how 60,000,000 people were murdered in the USSR and more in the People’s Republic of China and elsewhere. When 100,000,000 people die and certain political groups voice no serious objections we know there is a major problem yet to be solved.

The followers of Lenin, Castro, Sung, Ho and others did ‘redistribute’ shares of material resources in a vastly unequal manner to their political cronies, thus ignoring the tenets of egalitarianism in their selfish, ruthless and misguided cases. Party members suddenly became the material elites that they had previously ranted against and the masses remained hungry or dead. The promises of ‘land reform’ and ‘rule by the masses’ were short-lived. But, they had the loot!

The United States Declaration of Independence declares “all men are created equal", and, as such, each person should receive equal treatment under the law. The political assertion that "all men are created equal" fails in the face of world history everywhere. It is a goal. People are unfortunately not equal and espousing the classless system designed by the left is merely an excuse for murder and confiscation of power and wealth. Just check out the SAT and public school test scores and wonder why people are not equal, or even close to being so. Check the high school graduation statistics.

All US citizens ought to be equal under the law, but not politically mandated to be equal in intellectual gifts, attitude, achievements or economic abilities. We might as well dump school tests and give away jobs at random. That would be a fine method for the left to select our brain surgeons. It turns out that favored leftist legislation actually forces inequality in the law by discriminating against many because of their color or other political an economic attributes. Examples of this include set-asides, reverse discrimination, quotas and certain court rulings that frequently are the reverse what the voters wanted. We have to manage ‘equality’ so that every person gets fair treatment and they are not just sorted politically where certain groups are sequestered in the gulags or mass graves, as is the celebrated leftist egalitarian solution to this problem. The left is actually against equality and equal treatment because if ordinary people are allowed to exercise their entrepreneurial skills they will defeat the egalitarian precepts and obtain unequal wealth. Such is the history of the bourgeoisie, the enemy of socialism and Marxism. Those who are unskilled or besotted with drugs and crime will sink to the bottom of society. All men were created equal but some choose to become unequal by their actions. The left needs those who cannot cope to fill their ranks with howls and votes. Their vote is a cheap purchase.

Modern liberalism depends, desperately, upon the concept of egalitarianism for their power base. Their bourgeois opponents have the wealth so they are the only source of this substance. Nobody ever accused the left of getting rich in honest business. Liberals must grunt and grab as much of this wealth base as possible. No liberal in good standing would ever suggest a tax cut. Or, if they did as a cheap artifice, recalling Clinton’s Middle Class Tax Cut would quickly drop the notion after the power was obtained to do so, as he quickly did after the election. No tax relief!

We find from the literature of political fiction (George Orwell’s Animal Farm) that "All Animals Are Equal, but the pigs seemed to be more equal than others”. The pigs in this reference are the liberals or their more violent Marxist congeners. This is the actual basis of egalitarianism: use any phony doctrine or persuasive slogan promising some unearned wealth to the masses, preferable festooned with gooey precepts, and then proceed to grunt and then grab the wealth and spend it on yourselves.

Egalitarianism is just a slick political system designed to confiscate your wealth and is merely a political construct that only benefits the ‘more equal pigs.’



UK: Illiberal liberals are closing minds, not opening them

Which came first: the alt-right or the social-justice movement?

Will Donald Trump eventually be toppled by leftist activism, or will such activism guarantee his second term in office?

Is Katie Hopkins right to describe herself as the creation of her enemies, as the ‘monster’ to the liberal-left’s Dr Frankenstein?

Do attempts to shut down free speech on university campuses prevent the dissemination of extremist views, or make such views more likely to gain traction?

It’s a circular pattern that appears to be accelerating, largely thanks to the nuance-free arena of social media. As politics becomes more polarised, each side is resorting to increasingly distorted caricatures of the other. It’s like a pair of duellists retreating indefinitely until they are no more than blurs on the horizon. This explains why so many online spats feel as though people are lashing out at imaginary opponents.

This leaves us in a quandary. More than ever, we are in need of frank discussion about the issues that matter most. But with figures on all sides of the political spectrum so determined to double down on their alienating and ad hominem strategies, the possibility of debate is seriously curtailed. The rapper Joyner Lucas has addressed this problem in his recent viral hit ‘I’m Not Racist’, which presents two men – one white, one black – candidly airing their grievances. One commentator found the conceit ‘exhausting’, claiming that ‘the notion that social divisions [can] be reconciled through “honest” conversation’ is ‘hopelessly outdated’. God help us if he’s right.

It’s an attitude that is entirely self-defeating. The ongoing demonisation of those who voted to leave the European Union has all but ensured the impossibility of a second referendum. Smearing one’s opponents as ‘racist’ or ‘stupid’ may be satisfying in the short term, but it’s unlikely to change any minds. Nor is it supported by the facts. A recent study by the think-tank Open Europe has revealed that although immigration was a major factor in the referendum, the vast majority of voters have a ‘far more nuanced and sophisticated’ attitude on the subject than is generally acknowledged. Likewise, the inaccurate and promiscuous use of terms such as ‘Nazi’ and ‘fascist’ has been a boon to the far right, particularly in the US. It has enabled vile fringe groups to claim a level of support they simply do not have.

Uncritical fealty to any given ideology is always a bad idea, because ideologies are only ever sustained through over-simplification. In their current forms, the far right and the liberal-left are equally reactionary movements. Both are mired in identity politics – a xenophobic form of nationalism on the one hand, and intersectional victimhood on the other – and consequently neither is capable of rational debate.  Each ideology feeds on the other, existing only to counter its antithesis.

Part of the problem is that many who identify as ‘left-wing’ are nothing of the sort. There is nothing leftist about campus radicalism that promotes No Platforming and censorship. There is nothing leftist about the kind of slippery wordplay that sees the Daily Mail redefined as ‘far right’. There is nothing leftist about identity politics in its prevailing form, because it fails to recognise the centrality of class when it comes to social and economic opportunity. There’s a simple test: if you think the Guardian is left-wing, then you’re probably not left-wing.

Whether or not the hijacking of the left was the principal contributory factor to Trump’s success is one of those chicken-and-egg questions that is difficult to answer. What we can say for certain is that the tactics of these illiberal self-styled ‘leftists’ is generating the very conditions through which the likes of Trump are able to thrive. Resentment is a powerful emotion. We have already seen what happens when a presidential candidate writes off half of the electorate as ‘deplorables’. This hasn’t stopped supposed progressives from insisting that if you are white ‘your DNA is an abomination’, or that heterosexual men ‘hate women’ if they do not acknowledge their ‘toxic masculinity’. Such commentators haven’t so much shot themselves in the foot, as opted directly for the full amputation.

We are dealing with forms of zealotry that are more religious than political. There is a very good reason why Joseph Schumpeter devoted an entire chapter to ‘Marx the Prophet’ in his seminal work Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942). He understood that once a series of tenets are accepted as articles of faith, debate is no longer feasible. In such instances, says Schumpeter, ‘the opponent is not merely in error but in sin. Dissent is disapproved of not only intellectually but also morally. There cannot be any excuse for it once the Message has been revealed.’

This is why the new illiberal leftists are unlikely to deviate from the self-destructive path they have chosen. In these precarious times, we should be aspiring to a form of political discourse that is at once nuanced and open-minded. Instead, we are likely to see greater degrees of polarisation. Herbert Spencer opens his First Principles (1862) by reminding us that ‘when passing judgment on the opinions of others’, we should be willing to concede that even an erroneous proposition contains ‘a nucleus of reality’. For those of us who wish to remedy our degraded culture of political debate, this might be a good place to start.



So Much for Using the 25th Amendment Against Trump


For some time now, Democrats and their media allies have obsessed about the president’s health — particularly his mental fitness — largely as 25th Amendment groundwork for their pathetic impeachment campaign. So the report given Tuesday by the White House’s lead physician, Navy Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson, deflated their hopes:

In summary, the president’s overall health is excellent. His cardiac performance during his physical exam was very good. … We discussed diet, exercise and weight loss. He would benefit from a diet that is lower in fat and carbohydrates and from a routine exercise regimen. … All clinical data indicates that the president is currently very healthy and that he will remain so for the duration of his presidency.

Jackson has spent a lot of time with Trump, and his report certainly calls into question all the baloney from author Michael Wolff and his book, Fire and Fury. “The guy can’t go put one coherent sentence after another,” Wolff insists. “He’s off. He can’t stay on subject. He can’t stay on point.” News outlets likewise have featured psychiatrists “diagnosing” Trump despite never having even met him. That got so bad the American Psychiatric Association told shrinks to knock it off with violating the “Goldwater Rule” — questioning from afar the mental state of a public figure.

In fact, due to the Left’s incessant questions, Trump insisted that he also take some sort of cognitive test, so Jackson complied, though he noted it was the first time a sitting president had undergone such a test. Trump scored a perfect 30 out of 30 on the very extensive Montreal Cognitive Assessment. Jackson noted, “If he had some type of mental, cognitive issue … this test is sensitive enough. It would pick up on it. He would not have gotten 30 out of 30 on the test. So I’m very confident at this particular stage that he has nothing like that going on.”

Oh, and by the way, Jackson was also Barack Obama’s personal physician, and, as you recall, Obama refused to release some of his medical records…



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

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


Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Real 'Dreamers'

DACA illegals may be sympathetic figures, but they're not who Democrats and the MSM paint them to be

As Donald Trump and congressional leaders are ostensibly working toward a legislative solution to the DACA problem created by Barack Obama, it’s important to note exactly who these “Dreamers” really are. They are about 800,000 young adults brought here illegally by their parents, and are called “Dreamers” because of the acronym of the DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which has never passed Congress. Thus, it’s not surprising that myths abound in the mainstream media’s reporting on Dreamers.

Using language designed to blur the distinctions between legal or illegal and child or adult, the MSM paint Dreamers en masse as poor children abused by an “unjust” U.S. immigration system. On top of this all-too-sympathetic and simplistic description is the regularly repeated claim that the presence of these illegal Dreamers equates to an economic benefit outweighing any welfare burden the American taxpayer has been forced to provide. So, what is the reality?

The Congressional Budget Office recently released its findings on the cost of granting amnesty to Dreamers, concluding that it would add $26 billion to the deficit over the next decade. So much for the economic benefit regularly parroted by the MSM. Steven Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, also noted that the CBO “estimated that about one-third of the [DACA] adults … have not even graduated high school, and only about 15 percent have at least two years of college.” Camarota pointed out that “54.1 percent of households headed by native-born Hispanics access one or more of the welfare programs, and they tend to have poverty rates twice as high as the general population.”

While it is certainly understandable to have sympathy for those who were young children when their parents illegally smuggled them into the U.S., the fault for their current predicament lies not with American citizens, nor U.S. border laws, but with their parents. Where is the condemnation from Democrats and the MSM on those who blatantly broke U.S. law? It’s nowhere to be found; rather it is reserved solely for those Americans who dare to call for the upholding of our laws and national sovereignty. These American citizens are the ones Democrats and the MSM continually decry as heartless, bigoted and racist. Once again, it’s a case of feelings trumping facts.

Finally, as our Arnold Ahlert writes, “It’s time to cut through the progressive hype with a couple of simple questions: Who doesn’t have dreams, and in what universe should the dreams of those who have no business being here supersede those of American citizens?”



Don’t Believe the Hype behind the immigration numbers

Every day the mainstream media is hysterical about the DACA, the Dreamers (because American kids aren’t allowed to have dreams), and Amnesty. They will spit out numbers and shady poll results trying to paint a rosy picture of illegal immigration. But a small amount of research will show they are spitting out lies to achieve the desired outcome, the importation of millions of progressive voters. To quote a famous rap group, “Don’t Believe the Hype.”

One of the biggest lies being told about immigration is how many illegal immigrants are in the country. The media often touts the 11-12 million number put out by the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau reaches the number through a flawed method. It counts on a survey done by the federal government. If we are to believe the liberal logic that illegal immigrants are “in the shadows,” then the number cannot be right because people “in the shadows” do not voluntarily speak to people working for the government. Remember, they’re “in the shadows.”

The actual number is between 20-30 million illegal immigrants. The figure comes from a report titled The Underground Labor Force Is Rising To The Surface. The report was put together in 2005 by two Bear Sterns analysists using remittances, housing permits and school enrollment in illegal immigrant communities, and cross-border flows. Because the report is over ten years old, you can bet the number is closer to 30 million.

Another lie often told is immigrants legal and illegal do not commit crimes, and the data shows Americans commit crimes at a higher rate. This myth comes from a few studies with incredibly biased base models. Ann Coulter pointed out the Bianca Bersani study uses poor minority neighborhoods in crime-ridden cities like Detroit to compare it to all of America. The Alex Piquero study uses teenagers with juvenile records as the base for Americans. These are dishonest studies and should not be taken seriously.

The best way to look at these numbers is to look at the prison population. If you take the census data, immigrants make up 13.9 percent of the population, including illegal immigrants. If you use the numbers from the Bear Sterns study and increase the number of illegal immigrants by 10 million, the percentage increases to 16.8.

Thanks to an Executive Order by President Trump, we now know how many legal and illegal immigrants are in federal prisons. Previous administrations have been reluctant to give up this information. According to the latest report, 21 percent of federal prisoners are foreign-born. State and local prison populations are harder to come by because they don’t want people to know how bad the numbers are. The most accurate number of state and local prisons comes from a 2011 GAO report reporting legal and illegal immigrants make up at least 16.4 percent of that population.

This number is likely much higher because according to amnesty groups, illegals immigrant criminals prey on illegal immigrant communities. Therefore, thousands of crimes being committed by illegal immigrants go unreported because the victims do not report them.

The next lie is the economic benefit of the Dreamers and immigrants in general legal and illegal. The news media and amnesty proponents always bring up the notion that the Dreamers are contributing to the system and are a net benefit for the country. A quick glance at the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report for H.R. 3440, Dream Act of 2017, destroys that narrative, which is probably why the media hasn’t reported on it.

The CBO report states, “In total, CBO and JCT estimate that changes in direct spending and revenues from enacting H.R. 3440 would increase budget deficits by $25.9 billion over the 2018-2027 period.” This is at the federal level, who knows the damage the bill will do at the state and local level.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) demolishes the notion that illegal immigration is net positive for the country. FAIR released the report in late 2017, and it showed illegal immigration cost federal, state, and local taxpayers $134.8 billion per year. The report also showed illegal immigration only contributes $18.9 billion in federal, state, and local taxes bringing the total impact too -$115.9 billion. Is it right for a country over $20 trillion in debt to over $100 billion per year on non-citizens?

The debate is bound to get nastier. Democrats want mass immigration, legal and illegal because they want votes. Many businesses want mass immigration, legal and illegal, because they want cheap labor, not realizing once the progressives take over they will confiscate their businesses. The numbers above are just a sampling of the lengths the pro-amnesty crowd will go to get their desired outcome. Amnesty is a bad deal for America, it was a bad deal in 1986, and it is still a bad deal.



Time's Up for 'Temporary' Alien Protection

Michelle Malkin

DREAMers and immigrant demonstrators protest President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. One holds a sign that reads, "GOP You killed our Dreams. 2018 starts Now! (Screenshot)
Se acabo el tiempo.

Seventeen years after granting "temporary protected status" to nearly 200,000 Salvadoran citizens who had fled earthquakes in 2001 or who were already here illegally and claimed they were unable to return to their homeland because of civil strife, America is setting a deadline:

Get right with the law or go home.

As if we haven't shown enough generosity to these provisional guests in our home, the Department of Homeland Security gave the Salvadorans until September 2019 to get their affairs in order. But the usual suspects in the permanent Gang of Amnesty — identity-politics Democrats, Big Business Republicans, anti-rule of law activists and sovereignty-sabotaging pundits — condemned the Trump administration's announcement this week with a heaping dose of hyperbole.

Maria Rodriguez, executive director of the Florida Immigrant Coalition, called the move a "racial cleansing."

Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin called the revocation "monstrous" and called on Democrats to hold government funding hostage until the nearly two-decade-old "temporary" protections were restored indefinitely.

NBC analyst Anand Giridharadas likened the decision to "the German occupation of, and use of forced labor from, Belgium in World War I; and the Armenian genocide."

That's insanity. Here's a proposal. How about I force my way into Mr. Giridharadas' residence uninvited and demand to stay for at least 17 years under the guise of seeking "temporary" shelter. Would he consider a rational and responsible decision to evict me and reclaim his home for himself and his family tantamount to a war crime?

Enforcing a limit on humanitarian gestures is the responsible thing for any self-sustaining nation to do. Previous Democrat and Republican presidents, however, have shirked their duty — opting instead to renew illegal alien protections ad nauseam. So beneficiaries of our supposedly time-limited generosity established families and footholds here. They gained permanent residency, work permits and other taxpayer-subsidized benefits, along with ever-expanding lobbying power as a political constituency.

The Temporary Protected Status program was supposed to provide short-term relief and shelter to people from foreign countries hit by natural disasters, environmental catastrophes, civil war, epidemic diseases or other "extraordinary and temporary conditions." But they were always expected to go back home when those conditions improved.

The federal statute that created TPS clearly mandates terminating the protections once the conditions that led to TPS designation no longer exist. The law "prohibits judicial review of any determination with respect to the designation, termination, or extension of TPS" and "prohibits the Senate from considering legislation that would adjust the status of TPS aliens to that of a lawful temporary or permanent resident" once the status is removed, according to former House Judiciary Committee immigration counsel Nolan Rappaport.

Back in 1999, however, the Federation for American Immigration Reform warned Congress:

"Each special program that provides short-term relief has been followed by persistent demands for similar treatment by other groups and nationalities, not necessarily made up of persons in the same circumstances. It has now been politicized beyond recognition, and certainly no longer deserves the support of the general public."

Indeed, TPS turned into TINO: Temporary in Name Only. Illegal aliens from Honduras and Nicaragua were added to the list, followed by citizens of Haiti, Nepal, Syria, Angola, Sudan, Yemen, Montserrat and more. To date, we've granted sacrosanct TPS status to more than 400,000 people from a total of 22 countries who have grown increasingly entitled to automatic renewal of their protections every 18 months over the past two decades.

There's no polite way to tell houseguests who've overstayed their welcome that it's time to go, but perpetual amnesty for illegal aliens — whether it's called TPS, DACA or DREAM — will only beget more illegal immigration.

Time's up.



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

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


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

That wonderful government healthcare again

Thank goodness for the private sector

U.S. Navy veteran Eric Walker was told to go home and take care of his cocaine addiction when he went to the emergency room at the Dorn Veterans Hospital in South Carolina over serious stomach pains.

It turns out 47-year-old Walker, who served in the Navy during the first Iraq War, had gall stones and gall bladder and pancreas disease. He’s now suing the Veterans Administration, The State reports.

When Walker first entered the emergency room in May 2015, medical staff at the Dorn VA apparently asked for a urine sample in response to complaints about stomach pain.

After an hour, staff told him he tested positive for cocaine and stated that “his stomach pains were a direct result of ingesting multiple illegal drugs, in particular, excessive cocaine,” notes a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of Columbia.

Moreover, Walker says staff told him to head home and get rid of his cocaine addiction.

Walker’s condition got worse and after a few days, his neighbor had to drive him to [private] Lexington Medical Center, where his attorney Todd Lyle said Walker was “promptly diagnosed and rushed to emergency surgery for gall stones and disease of the gall bladder and pancreas.”

Walker recovered from the surgery, and now he’s seeking damages from the VA to recover costs from his treatment at Lexington and for pain and suffering. His lawsuit claims his urine was switched with someone else’s at the hospital, and was the reason for the cocaine abuse misdiagnosis.



Right to Work Laws Protect Workers from Union Corruption

A recent report from the Detroit Free Press entitled “Embezzlement plagues union offices around U.S., records show” provides another reason why states should enact right-to-work laws, which free workers from paying forced union dues.

The story reports over 300 instances of embezzlement at union offices in the past two years. It discusses instances of massive amounts of stolen union funds. Theft at union offices is occurring in big cities and small towns all over the country. No group of workers were spared, with union offices representing nurses, teachers, electricians, plumbers, and others experiencing scandals involving misappropriation of funds.

A common theme in the article is that embezzlement doesn’t just happen at union locations. Businesses, nonprofits, and churches all suffer from cases of fraud and stolen funds. As Peter Henning, a former federal prosecutor, told the Free Press, “Unions are not unique… Another group hit hard by embezzlement are churches. You can’t train people to be ethical. It’s just access to money.”

However, there is one major difference between how labor unions operate and other entities.

Across the country, millions of workers are compelled to financially support a union that they do not support or want to represent them in the workplace. In states that allow forced union dues, workers who refuse to pay dues can be terminated. In other words, many workers have no choice but to pay for a union they don’t want, which increases their exposure to embezzlement at the risk of being fired.

While embezzlement at unions may not be more prevalent than at any other kind of organization, workers should not be forced to hand over their hard earned money to entities that experience so many instances of theft.

It may not be reasonable to expect unions to safeguard every single dollar they receive, but it is also unreasonable to force workers to fund unions they disagree with and don’t want representing them.

Widespread union corruption is just another reason why states should adopt right-to-work laws and free workers from forced union dues requirements.



California gov. looks into the future and sees disaster

Supreme Court is set to consider if benefit cuts permissible
Ruling could provide relief to cash-strapped localities

California Governor Jerry Brown said legal rulings may clear the way for making cuts to public pension benefits, which would go against long-standing assumptions and potentially provide financial relief to the state and its local governments.

Brown said he has a "hunch" the courts would "modify" the so-called California rule, which holds that benefits promised to public employees can’t be rolled back. The state’s Supreme Court is set to hear a case in which lower courts ruled that reductions to pensions are permissible if the payments remain “reasonable” for workers.

"There is more flexibility than there is currently assumed by those who discuss the California rule,” Brown said during a briefing on the budget in Sacramento. He said that in the next recession, the governor “will have the option of considering pension cutbacks for the first time.”

That would be a major shift in California, where municipal officials have long believed they couldn’t adjust the benefits even as they struggle to cover the cost. They have raised taxes and dipped into reserves to meet rising contributions. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the nation’s largest public pension, has about 68 percent of assets needed to cover its liabilities. For the fiscal year beginning in July, the state’s contribution to Calpers is double what it was in fiscal 2009.

Across the country, states and local governments have about $1.7 trillion less than what they need to cover retirement benefits -- the result of investment losses, the failure by governments to make adequate contributions and perks granted in boom times.

"In the next downturn, when things look pretty dire, that would be one of the items on the chopping block," Brown said.



In Oregon, Progressivism Spills Over at the Pump

A dumb new state law prohibits urban Oregonians from filling their own gas tanks. Frank Lloyd Wright purportedly said, “Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.” Today, however, Oregon is the state with the strangest state of mind, which has something to do with its being impeccably progressive: In the series Portlandia, the mention of artisanal lightbulbs might be satirical, but given today’s gas-pumping controversy, perhaps not.

On Jan. 1, by the grace of God — or of the government, which is pretty much the same thing to progressives — a sliver of a right was granted to Oregonians: Henceforth they can pump gas into their cars and trucks, all by themselves. But only in counties with populations of less than 40,000, evidently because this walk on the wild side is deemed to be prudent only in the hinterlands, where there is a scarcity of qualified technicians trained in the science of pumping.

Still, 2018 will be the year of living dangerously in the state that was settled by people who trekked there on the Oregon Trail, through the territory of Native Americans hostile to Manifest Destiny. Oregon is one of two states that ban self-service filling stations. The other is almost-as-deep-blue New Jersey. There the ban is straightforward, no-damned-nonsense-about-anything-else protectionism: The point is to spare full-service gas stations from competing with self-service stations that, having lower labor costs, have lower prices.

Oregon’s Legislature offers 17 reasons “it is in the public interest to maintain a prohibition on the self-service dispensing of Class 1 flammable liquids” — aka, gasoline, which you put in your car’s “Class 1 flammable liquids tank.”

The first reason is: The dispensing of such liquids “by dispensers properly trained in appropriate safety procedures reduces fire hazards.” This presumably refers to the many conflagrations regularly occurring at filling stations throughout the 48 states where 96 percent of Americans live lives jeopardized by state legislators who are negligent regarding their nanny-state duty to assume that their constituents are imbeciles.

Among Oregon’s 16 other reasons are: Service-station cashiers are often unable to “give undivided attention” to the rank amateurs dispensing flammable liquids. When purchasers of such liquids leave their vehicles they risk “crime,” and “personal injury” from slick surfaces. (“Oregon’s weather is uniquely adverse”; i.e., it rains there.) “Exposure to toxic fumes.” Senior citizens or persons with disabilities might have to pay a higher cost at a full-service pump, which would be discriminatory.

When people pump gas without the help of “trained and certified” specialists, no specialists peer under the hood to administer prophylactic maintenance, thereby “endangering both the customer and other motorists and resulting in unnecessary and costly repairs.” Self-service “has contributed to diminishing the availability of automotive repair facilities at gasoline stations” without providing — note the adjective — “sustained” reduction in gas prices. Self-service causes unemployment. And “small children left unattended” by novice gas pumpers “creates a dangerous situation.”

So there. Oregon’s Solomonic decision — freedom to pump in rural counties; everywhere else, unthinkable — terrified some Oregonians: “No! Disabled, seniors, people with young children in the car need help. Not to mention getting out of your car with transients around and not feeling safe too. This is a very bad idea.” “Not a good idea, there are lots of reason to have an attendant helping, one is they need a job too. Many people are not capable of knowing how to pump gas and the hazards of not doing it correctly. Besides I don’t want to go to work smelling of gas.”

The complainers drew complaints: “You put the gas in your car not shower in it princess.” “If your only marketable job skill is being able to pump gas, by god, move to Oregon and you will have reached the promised land.” “Pumped my own gas my whole life and now my hands have literally melted down to my wrists. I’m typing this with my tongue.” These days, civic discourse is not for shrinking violets.

To be fair, when Oregonians flinch from a rendezvous with an unattended gas pump, progressive government has done its duty, as it understands this. It wants the governed to become used to having things done for them, as by “trained and certified” gas pumpers.

Progressives are proud believers in providing experts — usually themselves — to help the rest of us cope with life. The only downside is that, as Alexis de Tocqueville anticipated, such government, by being the “shepherd” of the governed, can “take away from them entirely the trouble of thinking” and keep them “fixed irrevocably in childhood.”



Because it reduces the supply of rental accommodation, rent control actually INCREASES the rents that the poor have to pay

The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco

Rebecca Diamond et al.


We exploit quasi-experimental variation in assignment of rent control to study its impacts on tenants, landlords, and the overall rental market. Leveraging new data tracking individuals’ migration, we find rent control increased renters’ probabilities of staying at their addresses by nearly 20%. Landlords treated by rent control reduced rental housing supply by 15%, causing a 5.1% city-wide rent increase. Using a dynamic, neighborhood choice model, we find rent control offered large benefits to covered tenants. Welfare losses from decreased housing supply could be mitigated if insurance against rent increases were provided as government social insurance, instead of a regulated landlord mandate.



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

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


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Fiction as commentary

The social justice warriors can often be violent but in Western societies they are greatly restrained by the forces of law and order.  I have just been reading a series of short stories in which they have more power than they do at the moment. It is a look at the dystopian future they have in mind for us all.  But because it is so close to what we see of them right now, the stories are quite riveting.  They stand alone as good fiction, even while having a thought-provoking purpose.  The title of the book is "Appalling Stories. 13 Tales of Social Injustice" By David Dubrow, Paul Hair, and Ray Zacek. It is available on Amazon


The Left are unresponsive to facts so get them where they do respond -- by attacking their social status.  Hence Trump's attacks on the purveyors of status -- the media

A good friend of mine wrote me recently. He complained about smug leftist neighbors who are “making decisions to ‘feel good’ with virtually no regard for true factual input or testing.” I get this a lot.

If you want to understand Donald Trump, you need understand why this complaint is myopic. Once you do understand, you’ll never see politics the same way again. You’ll also begin to grasp that leftism does work, and that you’ve just failed to understand how.  Which is why you lose so often.

Want a clue?  “Feel good” about what?

Not about being right, which is best described as “useful, to a point.” Aristotle noticed over 2,000 years ago that many people aren’t persuadable by logical arguments. So what’s the “feeling good” all about?

Try this on for size: People often take public positions in an attempt to increase their social status.

If you’ve been in a corporate setting, or settings with certain friends, I don’t need to offer further examples of this idea. You’ve seen it happen, and you also know that you need to be “reading the room” at all times before you speak and act. Failure costs status. People notice this dynamic, and act accordingly.

I didn’t say it was an ideal state of affairs. But a truly rational person must notice reality. My friend and his wife are picking up on a “we’re higher status than you” signal, and it’s part of the reason they’re so upset.

Macro examples also abound: Do you really think it’s a coincidence that leftism and its “Diversity Pokemon Points” amount to a full caste system?

Do you have any doubt about The left’s hatred for those who will not stay in their assigned status? Have you noticed their quickness to turn on their own allies? Fail to follow the latest fad, and your status is demoted.

Perhaps you’ve noticed that endlessly callous virtue signaling is the identifying badge of our modern try-hard Striver Class.

Maybe that’s because American public education is now a 20-year Milgram Experiment. Where the meta-message inside political correctness is to override your own judgement, in favor of deliberately-shifting judgements from people with higher status.

These aren’t accidents. They’re clues. Leftism isn’t a policy machine or an economic machine. Its economic results would tell you that much in a hurry. But the machine keeps running. Which means it must work for something. The correct question is: in what way does it work?

Analysis: Leftism is a status machine. A very, very successful status machine. Conservatives have lost status battle after status battle, often because they fought it as a policy battle. It rarely is. That’s conservatism’s most consistent and most damaging mistake.

From theory to practice: Trumping the media

President Trump’s systematic thrashing of the leftist media is the example that illustrates the theory.

Conservatives complained about the media for a long time. Aristotle’s dialectic approach, against people uninterested in truth. Net effect? Very low. Sad!

So let’s apply what we’ve learned.

Why do the media have power? Because they have social status with ordinary people. Are we still hearing about Watergate — decades later? The Pentagon Papers? How many movies seem to exist just to show journalists as heroes? Or let’s take a different tack: What’s the attraction of such a low-paying profession? Status given by the profession, and status from rubbing shoulders with high-status people. Status by acting as a vector for status signals, which is what every women’s magazine is. Ditto publications like WIRED, which is just Cosmo for geeks.

The media offers people clues about what things are high status within the areas they cover. People notice, and act accordingly. Yet most conservatives still don’t understand Trump’s response:

If I lower the media’s status, I will wreck their power.

So The Donald says that the media has “some of the most dishonest people” he has ever seen. Not an arm’s length complaint. A direct and personal status attack, rooted in truth.

Trump also acts in ways that cause journalists to fulfill his pre-suasion labeling. He makes “outrageous” statements, which many people outside the Beltway Bubble agree with. Those statements receive over-the-top media attacks, which make his enemies look ridiculous. Then events swiftly show that Trump had a point. Trump rubs it in, using the media’s own “Fake News” term against them and pouncing on every sloppy and dishonest mistake. As a final topper, Trump makes the dishonest media a focus during every massive rally. Which strengthens his out-grouping effect among participants and viewers.

He uses ridicule and lèse majesté, not bended knee and appeals — note that subordinating word — to logical argument.

The result? American belief in the credibility of their news media is now at about 32 percent. That’s the lowest ever polled, and an 8 percent drop from the lowest point of the 2008-2015 period. The media has lost audience, and a lot of power. When Vogue tried to damage Melania by ripping her wardrobe, activists promptly made memes from a photo of the weird-looking critic. The attack instantly lost its power.

Facebook has tried to fight these trend lines by flagging items as “fake news.” Recently, the social media giant decided to stop. Too many people sought out flagged articles. Or, put another way: In many circles, the mainstream media’s status has become negative. What an amazing amount of damage to a hostile institution.

Rational people notice and acknowledge real-world results. Even the left has noticed.

So, why hadn’t anyone ever done this before? In fairness, Newt Gingrich had some success in the 2012 primaries, and Ted Cruz has also tried. But they lacked the full array of tools. Worse, they didn’t understand how to make the media their enemy.

Once you understand conservatives’ biggest and most consistent mistake, it all becomes clear. Facts don't matter to the Left.  Status does. Make them feel bad.



Trump blows away another Leftist attack on himself
Never in the field of human politics has so much abuse been borne by one person

As the Russia collusion delusion melts away, the Left has adopted a new attack against President Trump. We have heard whispers for months, but the publication of Michael Wolff’s new book turned the rumors into a full-fledged media conspiracy.

According to the Left, the president is crazy. As Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) noted recently, this tactic is not new for the Left — it has questioned the sanity of virtually every Republican president.

The theme of Wolff’s book is that the president can’t focus, is impulsive, can’t read, is obsessed with himself, etc. Well, little did Democrat congressional leaders know, as they were headed to the White House Tuesday, that they would end up demolishing the narrative the Left has been constructing in recent weeks.

They walked into the Cabinet Room and sat down at the table. The White House press pool was brought in to take a few pictures and record a few moments of video, which is shared with other media outlets and used for brief clips on the evening news. At that point the press is normally ushered out of the room.

Instead, President Trump kept the cameras rolling so that the American people could watch the negotiations play out on national TV. For the next hour, every cable channel broadcast the meeting live. It showed President Trump in command and fully in charge of the facts.

At one point, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) complained that what the president was proposing is very complex and would be hard to get done. Trump urged him to be serious about negotiating and to get it done.

The entire performance was a brilliant strategic move. Even CNN’s Wolf Blitzer acknowledged that President Trump deserved “a lot of credit” for hosting a “really remarkable meeting.”

But What’s the Policy?

The way the president conducted Tuesday’s meeting was remarkable. He looked very much like a stable genius. But there are concerns by many on the Right over where this may be headed.

For example, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) pushed for a “clean DACA bill,” meaning no border security measures, followed by “comprehensive immigration reform,” which really means a massive amnesty.

DACA, Barack Obama’s unconstitutional amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants, is a bitter pill to swallow. If that pill is part of any deal, then it is imperative that the president gets authorization and funding for a border wall. For many conservatives, a big new immigration law prior to the wall would likely be a bridge too far.

The White House must be very careful that these negotiations do not result in a situation where all the president gets is a pledge to fund the wall at some future point. We have been burned by past promises for future border security. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of the past.

If that happens, we will have another wave of illegal immigrants bringing their children across the border. In fact, it may be happening already.

In my view, the president can survive, regardless of what the polling says, if DACA is terminated. What I don’t think he can survive is getting through his first term without serious progress on the wall.

A Good Day

There are many ways to define a good day. For me, a good day is whenever I can cause the Left to set its hair on fire. And when I tweeted support for the president’s performance at Tuesday’s meeting, I got an avalanche of attacks from hateful progressives, which I find reaffirming. A far-left attack group called “Right Wing Watch” generated the wave of invective.

As you can imagine, the remarks ran the gamut from suggestions that I needed a mental evaluation to accusing me of being anti-American. Much of it can’t be repeated here.

When I did a little checking, I quickly discovered that many of my critics where proud atheists. Not surprisingly, the anti-faith movement has become one of the most intolerant and vicious battering rams of the Left.

I hope President Trump is teaching every Republican leader that if they wake up in the morning and are not being attacked by the Left, they aren’t doing their job!



A new level of abuse from the Left in the DACA debate

If you support Trump, you are an "inhumane beast raised by wolves”

Judging by appearances, Rubin (on Left) was the one raised by wolves

Stephanie Hamill, advisor to the National Diversity Coalition for Trump, defended Trump to the panel, saying “I respect our laws and I understand we can’t allow everybody to come in,” also saying that the United States is “the most generous country in the world,” statements she could barely get out over the loud protests of the other panelists.

Washington Post writer Jennifer Rubin responded, “Okay, number one, we do not have open borders. If she’d actually talk to any real people who actually work for the Immigration and Customs Agency, she would find out that in fact we have fewer border crossings than we have. Our borders are more secure than ever"

“Thanks to Trump,” Hamill said.

Rubin shot back, “Excuse me, it’s my turn! You be quiet while I speak!.. . She added, “And third of all, what kind of person would send back people who have been working here, who have contributed to this country, who have children here, who would be separated from their children, from their communities, what kind of inhumane beast–are you raised by wolves?”



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

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


Monday, January 15, 2018

The Labor Market Resurgence

There is good news to welcome in the New Year. For the first time in a very long time, labor markets have heated up, and much of the credit goes to the Trump administration and, specifically, Neomi Rao, the head of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, who has taken the lead in chopping through the regulatory morass that for too long has strangled labor markets. But don’t take my word for it. Even the New York Times confirms the widespread “perception that years of increased environmental, financial, and other regulatory oversight by the Obama administration dampened investment and job creation—and that [Donald] Trump's more hands-off approach has unleashed the 'animal spirits' of companies that had hoarded cash after the recession of 2008."

By way of example, the Wall Street Journal has reported that pay raises were accompanied by signing and retention bonuses in tight-labor market cities like Minneapolis, especially in key sectors like construction, information technology, and manufacturing. Manufacturing is an especially critical indicator, because it shows that job growth wage increases are possible without following Trump’s counterproductive infatuation with protectionist legislation.

To be sure, the Times piece dutifully downplays the good news by reminding readers that “there is little historical evidence tying regulation levels to growth.”  The article even throws a bone in the direction of progressive economists who insist that in the long run, Obama-style regulations can produce benefits, not only for the regulated parties, but for the larger economy and the overall environment.

Yet this skepticism about the current wave of deregulation misses a critical point. The policy shift from the Obama administration to the Trump administration has been dramatic. The Obama administration relentlessly added new labor market regulations while Trump’s has pared back on the enforcement of the labor and antidiscrimination law to an extent that has little historical precedent. It is no wonder that wages were stagnant and that firms were reluctant to move forward with new hiring and expansion under the prior regulatory regime. But a year into the Trump administration, it is possible to explain the correct relationship between regulation and growth, by stressing two key points. The first disentangles good from bad forms of regulation. The second explains why wage increases are often a delayed response even to sensible forms of deregulation.

The first point relies on the simple distinction between regulations that help markets and regulations that strangle them. In the first class are the many regulations that increase the security of transactions. These include rules requiring that certain contracts (such as long-term employment contracts) be in writing, or recorded to be binding on third parties. In addition, sensible regulation of public utilities and the enforcement of antitrust to control monopolies and cartels generally lead to improved economic growth.

But Obama’s bundle of regulatory goodies never ameliorated either of these two recurrent problems.  Instead, at every point, his regulations increased transactional uncertainty by introducing restrictive trade practices in labor markets. Thus its vigorous enforcement of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the National Labor Relations Act limited freedom of contract between employers and employees. Any regulation that stifles freedom of contract in competitive markets produces losses to all trading parties, while simultaneously reducing the economic opportunities of third parties. These rules hold as much in labor markets as anywhere else. Obama’s most notable initiative under FLSA was to propose doubling the annual wage level at which minimum wage and, most critically, overtime regulations would kick in, to around $47,000. That one blunder would have upended huge growth in three vital areas of the economy—start-ups, graduate students and post-doc fellows, and the gig economy. By rolling back this regulation, Trump transformed the regulatory landscape for the better.

Similarly, the Obama administration aggressively sought to hold franchisors, like McDonald’s, responsible for the unfair labor practices of their franchisees. That one sop to organized labor would have upended decades of prior practice in another highly successful industry. Nixing this proposal, as the Trump administration did, was a huge change for the better. Progressive policymakers are correct insofar as they argue that it is improper to judge regulations solely by their short-term burdens on regulatory parties. But that mantra continues to naively assume that these negative short-term effects will somehow usher in long-term positive effects. With virtually all progressive regulations, exactly the opposite is true. Systemically negative long-term effects on third parties only compound the original regulatory blunders.

The second point goes to the temporal relationship between regulation and investment. Investment decisions are made over time frames that can run from five years to a generation. These decisions are necessarily riskier if the regulatory environment can become more ominous between the time of the initial expenditures to the time the project goes into operation. Now that Trump has been in office for close to a year, business people look less to his erratic foreign policy tweets and more to his steadfastness of purpose on domestic regulation. Even without the controversial business tax cuts, the stable regulatory environment creates intangible but positive expectations that increase business confidence and open the purse strings. These new investments, present and future, create higher wages and increased consumption.

Progressive critics, of course, are never satisfied, because they still fear that minorities and the poor will miss the parade, thereby aggravating already savage inequalities in income, wealth, and opportunity. Critics like Vanderbilt Law School Professor Ganesh Sitaraman, in his much lauded, but profoundly misguided 2017 book The Crisis of the Middle-Class Constitution: Why Economic Inequality Threatens Our Republic, argues that this situation will lead to wholesale class warfare or even violence. But Sitaraman only reflects the confusion of his mentor, Elizabeth Warren, who thinks that the only way the rich get richer is for the poor to get poorer. Right now, ironically, race relations are, if anything, better than a year ago because we do not have the constant acrimony over the deaths of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown that defined the final period of the Obama administration. It is not too far-fetched to assume that the relative calm in race relations (to which Charlottesville was the dreadful exception) stems in part because of increasing economic opportunities. As the the Wall Street Journal reports, “the unemployment rate for black Americans fell to its lowest rate ever at 6.8%.” The quiet news is the best news of all.

Theoretically, moreover, Sitaraman’s point is an absurdity because voluntary contracts in all markets—labor and finance not excepted—are positive-sum transactions that leave both sides better off than before. John F. Kennedy famously summed up the correct position by disdaining the epithet of the “trickle-down” economy by noting that “a rising tide raises all boats.” That is doubly true when all major federal initiatives are moving in the same direction. It is no coincidence that the widespread economic improvement has taken hold—including in minority communities—exactly at the time when the federal enforcement of the employment discrimination laws has fallen to a low ebb. By cutting off market transactions, these rules were job killers for black workers from disadvantaged backgrounds who today are more likely to be hired by employers who know that they will not face heavy liabilities if they are fired or demoted.

The key lesson going forward is to be aware of half measures that will only muddy the waters. The evidence on the power of deregulation will become clear only if the Trump administration continues its all-in policies. Even more importantly, it must firmly reject any and every progressive effort to tighten employment regulation. Perhaps the most perverse recent proposal is from Moshe Marvit and Shaun Richmand, both strong union advocates. Their legislative reform is to junk the current employment-at-will doctrine—whose powerful efficiency features are often overlooked—in favor of a “just-cause” dismissal regime in order to counter systemic employer hostility to union organizers, and indifference to workplace sexual harassment. This massive system of regulation would stop job growth in its tracks.

Remember, the strongest protection for any worker is not some balky legal regime, but a growing economy that makes the threat to quit credible. Indeed, one of the reasons why private sector unionism has dropped and covers only 6 percent of workers is that just–cause provisions are always needed to protect the union’s precarious position as representative of workers, many of whom would happily do without its services. It is critical to remember that the current labor boom is no short-term bubble. Today’s improvements rest on solid productivity gains. The same employers who fiercely resist unionization are happy to pay higher wages to workers whose efforts increase the profits and net worth of the firm, both in the short and long run.



Unions are out of control, the Office of Labor-Management Standards can fix that

Although the Office of Labor-Management Standards (OLMS) at the Department of Labor is not a large agency, it has a critical mission: rooting corruption out of unions to protect workers’ hard-earned dues money and helping to ensure free and fair union elections. Unfortunately, the agency’s capacity declined during the Obama Era. Now Congress needs to increase funding to rebuild the agency, which has lost more than one-third of its employees since 2008.

While President George W. Bush’s Administration was disappointing at times, his selection of Elaine Chao for Labor Secretary was a wise one. She chose Don Todd to lead OLMS; and because she saw the importance of the agency’s mission, she worked to increase its funding. But even with the increased funding, the agency’s staff was still significantly smaller than it was during the Reagan Era.

Under Don Todd’s leadership, OLMS grew and was very productive. For example, the agency dramatically increased the number of unions it audited. Compliance audits of unions increased by nearly 400% from 206 in the year 2000, the last full year of the Clinton Administration, to 798 in 2008, the last full year of the Bush Administration.

Perhaps if OLMS had had as many employees under Bush as it had under Reagan, it would have been able to audit even more unions than the OLMS did under Reagan. Nonetheless, the agency’s vigorous enforcement of labor law throughout the Bush years resulted in hundreds of corrupt union officials going to prison and tens of millions of dollars being returned to their unions.

Big Labor worked hard and gave generously to elect Obama and other Democrats and to enact Obama’s agenda. Democrats paid union bosses back for their support by pursuing policies designed to increase their power—and revenues. One of the Obama Administration’s favors to union bosses was to deprioritize the work of OLMS. On Obama’s watch, the OLMS workforce was slashed, and funding, audits, investigations, indictments, and convictions all decreased, which was good news for corrupt union bosses, but bad news for their union’s membership.

As an example of the stark contrasts between the Bush and Obama Administrations, consider the number of compliance audits of international unions that OLMS conducted under each. (Of course, it should be noted these audits are labor-intensive due to the size and complexity of international unions.) During the Bush Administration, there were 35 compliance audits of international unions; under Obama, there were zero compliance audits of these unions. In other words, the nation’s largest unions were given some latitude to do as they pleased for eight years, and not one of them had their books audited by the Labor Department.

While the Obama Administration refused to be held accountable to the law—by dragging its feet in appointing inspectors general, obstructing investigations by inspectors general, and refusing to cooperate with Congressional investigations—Obama’s Labor Department refused to hold the nation’s largest unions accountable to the law. Human nature being what it is, it seems highly likely that at least some of these international unions had some less-than-honorable officers or staffers who stole from union members.

Fortunately, the Trump Administration has been selecting quality leaders to turn things around at the Labor Department, and the Administration has also requested a funding increase of several million dollars for OLMS. These additional funds were requested to restart the long-neglected audits of international unions and to upgrade the agency’s dated electronic filing system.

Because of the important work of the agency, Congress should appropriate every penny requested for OLMS. In addition, if any savings can be found in the rest of the budget, Congress should appropriate even more funds to reverse the detrimental staff reductions under Obama. With good leadership and adequate staffing, who knows how much union corruption might be discovered after eight years of lax enforcement?



Keep alert to your surroundings?

This picture is one of a series here


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

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


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Let's look inside a Leftist emptyhead

Alon Ben-Meir is Senior Fellow, Center for Global Affairs, NYU.  He is an elderly Jewish "expert" on peace in the Middle East.  It must be hard to be an expert on something that does not exist and shows no signs of coming to be but Ben-meir has allegedly attained it.  On his deathbed he will perhaps be wondering why he spent so much of his life on something so ephemeral.  But he has been heaped with honours and recognition from Leftists so  he might reflect that he has actually done rather well. Seeking praise and recognition is a major Leftist aim, after all.  Too bad if you accomplish nothing good.

He has recently put up an article under the heading: "A Party That Has Lost Its Soul".  And that heading typifies the article.  "Soul" is not defined nor is there any discussion of when and where and how the loss occurred.  The party concerned is of course the Republican party. So we have a meaningless but emotional outpouring.

We also learn that the GOP has failed to "safeguard America’s national interest".  How?  He does not say.

We also hear that the GOP has "no scruples and no moral compass".  So it must be the GOP that says "there is no such thing as right and wrong"?  I would have sworn that was a Leftist docrtine.

And Trump is a "president who has nothing to offer the country but disgrace".  Again no elaboration on that. I thought he offered America renewed greatness. What have I missed?

I have so far referred to his first paragraph only but the rest of his article  is similar so I think I have said enough to show that this Leftist eminence seems to have managed the remarkable feat of having emotions but no brains.  Sadly, a lot of the Left seem like that.

I note that proud RINO, Rick Moran, also accuses the GOP of having lost its soul.  But at least he says why.  It is because judge Moore was "credibly accused" of something.  No presumption of innocence?  Souls seem to fly out the window very readily these days.  As an atheist, I don't have one so I'm OK.


More statin propaganda

The New York Times has just published an article supposedly examining the pros and cons of the elderly taking statins. On the face of it the article appears to be balanced however, there are a great number of errors and omissions in this article and as a result the article creates completely the wrong impression about statins.

The New Times Article can be found here, it might be worth comparing the article with the information below.

The first problem with the New York Times article is found in the second paragraph where the author incorrectly states “[statins] get much of the credit for the nation’s plummeting rates of heart attacks and strokes”.

In fact, heart disease death rates have been declining rapidly in the United States (and the UK) since the 1970s. Statins were introduced in the mid to late 1990s - around 20-25 years after the sharp decline was already well under way.

The reduction in heart disease deaths in the United States (and the UK) is mostly due to the reduction in the number of people who smoke cigarettes. Improvements in hospital treatments has also contributed.

In addition, retrospective studies have also failed to find any benefit associated with statins. Although statin clinical trials have predicted a slight reduction in heart attacks in some patient groups, studies that have looked retrospectively have found that these predicted benefits have not actually materialized.

Clinical trials are perceived as the gold standard of clinical research but in recent decades there has been a greater understanding of how the clinical trial process can be manipulated by commercial interests in order to get the result that is favorable to the company sponsoring the trial. Therefore, it is also important to look retrospectively at the risks and benefits as the drug is used widely in the general population.

For example, researchers collected data from all but one of the municipalities of Sweden and they found that statins had not provided any benefit despite a huge increase in usage.

In 2012 the British Heart Foundation published a report detailing a wide range of heart disease statistics. One of the highlights of this report was the decline in heart disease death rates that had been seen in the UK between the years 2002 and 2010. The report listed the improvements that had led to this decline in deaths - statins were not mentioned at all.

Doctors in the pockets of drugs companies and lazy reporters often repeat the myth that statins have contributed to the decline in heart disease deaths, but there is not any to data to support this.

There are many other problems with the New York Times article, such as quoting relative percentages instead of absolute percentages (relative percentages hugely misrepresent the data), and also a failure to mention the other common adverse effects of statins that the elderly are more vulnerable to. However, I want to take particular issue with the fact that the New York Times article also fails to inform people of the strong connection between low cholesterol levels and shorter life expectancy and increased cancer rates - a correlation particularly strong in the elderly. People with High Cholesterol Live Longer!



Leftist Socialism: The Toothfish of Modern Politics

Patagonian Toothfish, the rejected ugly, oily, bottom dwelling toothy fish was rebranded Chilean Sea Bass and became an expensive delicacy for gullible millennials.

So it is with Socialism, a rejected, ugly, oily, bottom dwelling ideology that enriched the elite and enslaved the masses was rebranded Social Democracy and became a rallying cry for naive 21st century millennials.

It is often useful to look backward to move forward so let's review. Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, stated unequivocally, "Democracy is the road to socialism." Vladimir Lenin, founder of the Russian Communist Party, affirmed, "The goal of socialism is communism." Social democracy began in the late 19th early 20th century as a political ideology advocating an evolutionary and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism using established political processes to effect the transition rather than the revolutionary processes of Marxism.

The Socialist Party of America had been unable to field a successful presidential candidate for decades so in 1972 the Socialist Party of America officially rebranded itself and changed its name to Social Democrats, USA. "The name 'Socialist' was replaced by 'Social Democrats' because many Americans associated the word 'socialism' with Soviet Communism." Anyone familiar with Marx and Lenin correctly associated the two which is why rebranding was necessary to eliminate its negative image and conceal its identity.

The thing about rebranding is that it does not change the product itself - only the name changes and its psychological associations.

Rebranding Toothfish as Chilean Sea Bass was a successful marketing strategy designed to sell a rejected fish in the food industry. Similarly, rebranding the Socialist Party of America as Social Democrats was a successful marketing strategy designed to sell a rejected ideology in the political sphere. Both were highly successful.

The democratic socialism currently embraced by the left-wing radicals that dominate the Democrat Party in America has embraced identity politics to increase its membership with inclusive promises of "social justice and income equality." These slogan promises disguise the reality of socialism because, like the Patagonian Toothfish, changing its name does not change what socialism is.

Millennials would be well advised to ignore the rebranded marketing campaigns of political elites like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, DeBlasio, Obama and actually investigate real life socialism in real life countries like Cuba and Venezuela. Instead of accepting the fake news provided by the colluding mainstream media, millennials should be listening to real people who have escaped the tyranny of socialism/communism instead of watching the paid political pundits on television.

Millennials forget that people are not drowning on freedom rafts sailing from Miami to Cuba - they are risking their lives to sail from Cuba to Miami.

The Socialist Party of America's dream to transition America from a capitalist country to a socialist/communist country was always a long-term project and did not collapse with the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.

On Jan. 10, 1963, Congressman Albert S. Herlong Jr. of Florida read a list of 45 Communist goals into the Congressional Record. The list was derived from researcher Cleon Skousen's book The Naked Communist. The goals that articulate and expose the thinking and strategies of the political elite 55 years ago are the same goals and policies of today's Leftist Democrat leaders Sanders, Warren, DeBlasio, and Obama.



Trump Can Take Credit for Black Unemployment Drop
There’s plenty to celebrate in the December Bureau of Labor Statistics report showing black unemployment at 6.8 percent, the lowest ever since they started reporting the data in 1972.

President Trump tweeted out his excitement and, of course, took credit for the good news. Has there ever been a politician who didn’t take credit for good news on his watch (or rationalize away responsibility for bad news)?

The president’s detractors, of course, wasted no time in challenging him, pointing out that unemployment rates have been dropping since the economic recovery started, well before Trump took office. Trump, they say, is as responsible for this latest monthly drop as he is for the morning sunrise.

It seems to me quite reasonable for Trump to take credit for this. There are, indeed, positive things happening as result of his leadership — deregulation, a new tax bill, overall business-friendly policies and rhetoric. These things create a business environment of optimism and confidence, which drives investment and increases demand for labor.

However, rather than obsessing about what particular politician to praise or excoriate for certain economic results, our discussion should be about policies and not about personalities. Let’s savor this news but not lose our sobriety regarding the great task before us in this community.

The latest 6.8 percent black unemployment figure sounds great for blacks. But not for whites. The white rate for December was 3.7 percent. Why should there be celebrations that the black rate is “only” 3.1 percentage points higher than the white rate? Why should there be a different economic standard for blacks?

Black unemployment rates have averaged twice the white rate since 1972.

Black poverty rates are around twice the national average.

Black income and household wealth have hardly changed, remaining a fraction of that of whites.

This is the conversation we should be having. When do all American citizens participate equally in our national economic cornucopia?

Donald Trump was onto something when he asked blacks, during the presidential campaign, “What do you have to lose?”

Trump is offering a mindset that blacks should relish. A completely new and different reality. The cultural and political reality that blacks have turned to for years — big government — is the reason these gaps persist. It’s time for something new.

Black unemployment peaked at 16.8 percent in March 2010 during President Obama’s efforts to recover from the 2007-2008 economic collapse.

But the irony is that the collapse was driven by government policies put in place to help low-income Americans to make housing purchases. Contrary to what Barack Obama pitched to the country — blaming business and claiming the problem was insufficient government and regulation — American Enterprise Institute scholar Peter Wallison has shown the opposite.

Government policies mandating higher quotas of mortgages for low- to moderate-income borrowers put an increasing percentage of subprime mortgages on the market. By 2008, according to Wallison, 56 percent of the mortgages acquired by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — the two massive government-backed mortgage companies — were in this category.

Then everything collapsed.

An ocean of new regulations on financial services, enacted as part of the Dodd-Frank Act, was the Democratic Congress’ answer to their own misdiagnosed analysis of what caused the collapse. As a result, we had a slower-than-normal economic recovery.

These are the discussions we need today. How do we get out of the big government mindset that has been a drag on our economy and has perpetuated economic underperformance in low-income communities?

In this context, Trump is right to boast. He is bringing badly needed new thinking on issues concerning low-income America. It’s already making a difference.



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