Friday, May 17, 2019

Tariffs -- The Taxes That Made America Great

Patrick J. Buchanan over-eggs the pudding below.  He writes as if tariffs are uniformly desirable.  They are not.  Tariffs are always a tradeoff.  You sacrifice low prices in Wal-mart for some other objective -- maintaining defence related industries at home, for instance.  Economists have always recognized that.  Buchanan is not the bearer of some new revelation.  If your defence relies heavily on cutting edge aerospace industries, for instance, it is reasonable and proper to ensure that the products it uses are available at home.

That is in fact an area where successive administrations have been remiss.  Rare earth minerals are vital in modern electronic devices.  So what is the main source of them at the moment?  China!  How crazy can you get?  America has plenty of such minerals in the ground so it is only a matter of the miners being able to make a buck getting them out of the ground for all America's needs in that area to be produced locally.  A tariff on the import of such minerals from China would achieve that objective.

Mr Trump has articulated very clearly why and how he uses tariffs -- which he in fact does sparingly.  He wants fairer trade with China -- so that they stop trying to keep American goods such as motor vehicles out while their goods come freely into America.  His second objective is to avoid the social disruption that happens when a whole industry suddenly dies -- which has happened at various places in the mid-West.  He wants transitions to be gradual rather than sudden so that the people affected have time to adjust.

Both those objectives are perfectly rational and no surprise to the economics profession.  The important thing is that you have a clear idea of what you want to achieve in levying tariffs.  Mr Trump has a crystal clear idea of that.  Levying tariffs willy-nilly would be a great folly. The historical tariffs Buchanan talks about fall into the well-known "infant industry" exception to free trade. Old hat among economists

As his limo carried him to work at the White House Monday, Larry Kudlow could not have been pleased with the headline in The Washington Post: "Kudlow Contradicts Trump on Tariffs."

The story began: "National Economic Council Director Lawrence Kudlow acknowledged Sunday that American consumers end up paying for the administration's tariffs on Chinese imports, contradicting President Trump's repeated inaccurate claim that the Chinese foot the bill."

A free trade evangelical, Kudlow had conceded on Fox News that consumers pay the tariffs on products made abroad that they purchase here in the U.S. Yet that is by no means the whole story.

A tariff may be described as a sales or consumption tax the consumer pays, but tariffs are also a discretionary and an optional tax.

If you choose not to purchase Chinese goods and instead buy comparable goods made in other nations or the USA, then you do not pay the tariff.

China loses the sale. This is why Beijing, which runs $350 billion to $400 billion in annual trade surpluses at our expense is howling loudest. Should Donald Trump impose that 25% tariff on all $500 billion in Chinese exports to the USA, it would cripple China's economy. Factories seeking assured access to the U.S. market would flee in panic from the Middle Kingdom.

Tariffs were the taxes that made America great. They were the taxes relied upon by the first and greatest of our early statesmen, before the coming of the globalists Woodrow Wilson and FDR.

Tariffs, to protect manufacturers and jobs, were the Republican Party's path to power and prosperity in the 19th and 20th centuries, before the rise of the Rockefeller Eastern liberal establishment and its embrace of the British-bred heresy of unfettered free trade.

The Tariff Act of 1789 was enacted with the declared purpose, "the encouragement and protection of manufactures." It was the second act passed by the first Congress led by Speaker James Madison. It was crafted by Alexander Hamilton and signed by President Washington.

After the War of 1812, President Madison, backed by Henry Clay and John Calhoun and ex-Presidents Jefferson and Adams, enacted the Tariff of 1816 to price British textiles out of competition, so Americans would build the new factories and capture the booming U.S. market. It worked.

Tariffs financed Mr. Lincoln's War. The Tariff of 1890 bears the name of Ohio Congressman and future President William McKinley, who said that a foreign manufacturer "has no right or claim to equality with our own. ... He pays no taxes. He performs no civil duties."

That is economic patriotism, putting America and Americans first.

The Fordney-McCumber Tariff gave Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge the revenue to offset the slashing of Wilson's income taxes, igniting that most dynamic of decades — the Roaring '20s.

That the Smoot-Hawley Tariff caused the Depression of the 1930s is a New Deal myth in which America's schoolchildren have been indoctrinated for decades.

The Depression began with the crash of the stock market in 1929, nine months before Smoot-Hawley became law. The real villain: The Federal Reserve, which failed to replenish that third of the money supply that had been wiped out by thousands of bank failures.

Milton Friedman taught us that.

A tariff is a tax, but its purpose is not just to raise revenue but to make a nation economically independent of others, and to bring its citizens to rely upon each other rather than foreign entities.

The principle involved in a tariff is the same as that used by U.S. colleges and universities that charge foreign students higher tuition than their American counterparts.

What patriot would consign the economic independence of his country to the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith in a system crafted by intellectuals whose allegiance is to an ideology, not a people?

What great nation did free traders ever build?

Free trade is the policy of fading and failing powers, past their prime. In the half-century following passage of the Corn Laws, the British showed the folly of free trade.

They began the second half of the 19th century with an economy twice that of the USA and ended it with an economy half of ours, and equaled by a Germany, which had, under Bismarck, adopted what was known as the American System.

Of the nations that have risen to economic preeminence in recent centuries — the British before 1850, the United States between 1789 and 1914, post-war Japan, China in recent decades — how many did so through free trade? None. All practiced economic nationalism.



On China, president Trump is working for America — not big business

Will Washington do what’s in the interest of the nation or what’s in the short-term interest of Wall Street and a small number of businesses? That’s the central question in our trade relations with China.

The Trump administration has chosen to do what’s in the national interest.

Twenty years ago, Congress voted to establish permanent normal trade relations with China, giving the communist regime in Beijing the same preferential trade treatment we accord our best allies, Western industrial democracies such as Great Britain and Germany.

In doing so, Washington gave multinational corporations the long-term certainty they needed to make massive investments in the People’s Republic of China and replace well-paid American workers with poorly paid Chinese workers by moving factories from Michigan to Shenzen.

The late Sen. Jesse Helms, arch-conservative from North Carolina, opposed the measure.

Helms told his fellow senators, “There’s no question that giving permanent most favored nation trade status to China may advance the business interests of various sectors of the U.S. corporate community, but the Senate, amidst all the high pressure tactics, must not confuse business interests with the national interest of the American people.”

His warning was prescient.

Unfortunately, Washington didn’t take it, and instead confused business interests with the national interest.

Policymakers convinced themselves that as China grew more prosperous it would become a democratic, free market ally of the U.S.

It hardened into an article of faith that what’s good for China is good for America. Vice President Joe Biden voiced that sentiment perfectly when he said, “It is overwhelmingly in our interest that China prosper.”

As global corporations left heartland America where they were born and grew up to relocate to China, corporate profits soared while the Americans they left behind sank into unemployment, depression, alcoholism and drug addiction.

And the companies who did business in China became China’s lobbyists in Washington.

These companies, fearing reprisals from China’s all-powerful communist party bosses if they spoke up, asked Washington to remain silent while Beijing hacked our computers, stole our government, military and trade secrets, and reneged on promises to open its market.

Putting business interests before national interest, Wall Street and Washington consultants made fortunes for themselves arranging business deals in, with, or on behalf of China even as the Chinese Communist Party built a world-class military, persecuted people of faith and widened its espionage and influence operations inside the U.S.

Now China is doing openly what it long did behind closed doors:  ask American businesses to push Beijing’s party line in Washington.

Narrow self-interest and fear of Beijing’s commissars motivates the import lobby and other business entities who ask President Trump to immediately drop tariffs on China’s illegally subsidized imports and make a deal, any deal, with China now now now.

Keep that in mind when you see critics of the administration’s policies wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth about “the impact tariffs have on consumers.”

These critics showed no concern when American producers — the working men and women of this country — were stripped of their jobs and their ability to earn a living and support a family and were reduced to simply consumers on the welfare rolls.

These critics who voice faux concern over “consumers pay the price of tariffs” ignore the facts and the evidence. In fact, inflation is virtually flat.  The evidence shows outsourcing jobs to China has caused a drop in Americans’ disposable income that more than offsets any illusory gain from nominally cheaper imported goods.



Russia Calls On Pompeo For A Reboot: “Let’s try, and see what happens…”

The Donks have made a demon out of Russia for their own anti-Trump purposes but there is no reason why the administration should follow suit

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday it was time for Moscow and Washington to put aside years of mistrust and find a way to work together constructively.

Pompeo is in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi for talks with his Russian counterpart, and later on Tuesday will also hold consultations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ties between the two countries have been poisoned by allegations – denied by Moscow – that Russia tried to influence the results of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, and by differences over Venezuela, Iran, Syria and Ukraine.

“We see that there are suspicions and prejudices,” Lavrov told Pompeo at the start of their talks.

“This hinders both your security and our security and causes concern around the world. We think it is time to build a new and more constructive matrix for our relations,” Lavrov said.

“We are ready to do that if our U.S. colleagues are ready to reciprocate. …Let’s try, and see what happens.”

Pompeo’s visit represents the first high-level contact between Moscow and Washington since U.S. Special Counsel Robert Muller submitted a report examining the nature of Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

His inquiry had cast a pall over U.S.-Russian relations, and Russian officials had expressed hope that Washington would have more scope to build friendlier relations with Moscow once it was out of the way.

Responding to Lavrov’s opening remarks, Pompeo said: “I’m here today because President Trump is committed to improving this relationship. We have differences and each country will protect its own interests, look out for its own interests of its people.”

“But it’s not destined that we’re adversaries on all issues and I hope that we can find places where we have a set of overlapping interests and continue to build out strong relationships, at least on those particular issues,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo identified counter-terrorism and combatting nuclear proliferation as two areas where Moscow and Washington could find common ground.



Ken Blackwell: The President’s Promises, Made and Kept

During the 2016 election, President Trump made plenty of campaign promises, as does any candidate. But this president has done what his predecessors often fail to accomplish: he has kept his promises.

Perhaps the president’s most important accomplishment so far is his restoration of the judicial branch—a big reason many otherwise wary voters supported him in 2016. You probably already know about his two appointees to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, who are poised to make sure that the Constitution isn’t a rubber stamp for progressive policy preferences but a document whose meaning endures over time. But those justices are only the beginning: the Senate has confirmed more than one hundred judges to lower court positions in both the United States Circuit Courts and the Federal Court of Appeals.

Of course, refreshing our third branch of government isn’t the only success Trump has under his belt. We shouldn’t forget the phenomenal trade policies Trump has instituted, nor the agreements he’s renegotiating. Trump has revised NAFTA and implemented the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a better trade deal that strengthens America’s job-creating ability. President Trump has also renegotiated trade agreements with South Korea to protect American companies. And while previous presidents have talked tough on China, Trump is backing his talk up with action. This administration has made aggressive moves to stop the trade abuses we suffer from China and finally level the playing field. Trump just raised the tariffs on China from 10 percent to 25 percent, a measure that will curb our trade deficit with the communist nation. Thanks to these measures, the U.S. trade deficit fell to an eight-month low in February.

The controversial Paris Accords weren’t technically an economic agreement, but President Obama’s decision to sign on with this environmental agreement—a treaty in all but name—would have had serious economic repercussions. The accords are supposed to keep the global rise of temperature under two degrees Celsius, in part by participating nations pledging $100 billion a year to developing countries. But at what cost? The Heritage Foundation projected that the Accords would reduce the GDP $2.5 trillion by 2035. That is a high price to pay for very little promise of success in green energy and environmental restoration. Some of the chief polluters in the world are India and China, yet they would not have suffered under the same rigid sanctions as the United States if we signed the Paris Accords. President Trump was wise to get us out of this bad deal.

In the meantime, he teamed up with the GOP-controlled Congress to give a great deal to American taxpayers in the form of sweeping tax cuts. There was a vicious campaign by the left to smear the tax cuts, but even The New York Times had to admit that Americans of all income levels kept more of their hard-earned cash last year. For example, CBS News reports that there are now one million more job openings than unemployed persons. This growth and hiring ability are thanks to more money being available for businesses.

The Trump Administration and Republican leaders in the House and Senate should be congratulated for their accomplishments so far—though of course, there is plenty more work to be done. Consider the courts: despite the enormous success of the Trump administration to this point, there are still 159 current and known future vacancies. President Trump has already nominated 59 individuals to fill those seats, and the Senate should be working around the clock to make sure all their nominees are confirmed, despite the obstruction coming from the left.

And make no mistake: Democrats will find new ways to obstruct, even with their dreams of collusion and obstruction being dissolved with the Mueller Report. President Trump didn’t let that distraction block his promises to restore the judiciary, put America first, and rejuvenate the economy—and we can expect him to keep more promises in the years ahead.



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, May 16, 2019

Sen. Elizabeth Warren: ‘Fox News Is a Hate-for-Profit Racket That Gives a Megaphone to Racists’

It would be more accurate to say that Elizabeth Warren is a hate-filled rager who gives a megaphone to the race-obsessed Left.  Leftists judge others by themselves

“Fox News balances a mix of bigotry, racism, and outright lies,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) declared Tuesday in her explanation of why she turned down an invitation to one of the network’s town hall events.

In a series of tweets, Sen. Harris attacked Fox News, accusing the network of promoting the “life and death consequences” of racism and conspiracy theorists:

“Fox News is a hate-for-profit racket that gives a megaphone to racists and conspiracists—it’s designed to turn us against each other, risking life and death consequences, to provide cover for the corruption that’s rotting our government and hollowing out our middle class.”



Democrats are already plotting to raise your taxes after 2020

In spring 2015, 18 months before the 2016 elections, the tax reform legislation of 2017 was taking shape. Virtually every Republican candidate was talking about fixing the broken tax code with pro-growth tax reforms which reduced tax rates and broadened the base. After winning the White House and maintaining control of the House and the Senate, Republicans enacted their tax reform plan within their first year.

Now, in spring 2019, 18 months before the 2020 elections, the tax increase bill of 2021 is taking shape.

Virtually every Democratic presidential candidate is talking about undoing the 2017 tax reform and raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations, and a long list of specific tax increases is under serious consideration.

As a result, the largest tax increase ever enacted could happen if the Democrats win the White House, retain the House, and regain control of the Senate.

Every taxpayer should start preparing now for the possibility of these tax increases, and more importantly, begin making the case for how damaging these tax increases would be to the economy, our financial markets, and economic prosperity.

The following is a brief summary of the actual tax increases proposed by Democratic presidential candidates and members of the House and Senate, and which will be ready for enactment in 2021.

Individual Taxes: Congressional Democrats (Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and others) have proposed a repeal of the individual tax cuts enacted in 2017, a massive tax increase for millions of middle-class taxpayers, a return to a top tax rate of 39.6%, and a 5% surtax on top of that. Several House members (Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts) have called for a 70% top rate, while another one (Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota) wants a top rate of 90%. Other members have proposed sharply higher payroll taxes to fund new government spending programs.

As if this is not enough, a number of presidential candidates (Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.) have proposed a new wealth tax, to be levied every year on some Americans' assets and property. Once in place, it will almost certainly be expanded every year to cover more people.

Corporate Taxes: Many Democrats want to repeal the corporate tax reductions enacted in 2017, raising the corporate tax rate back to 35%, close to the highest rate in the world. Others are pushing for raising the 21% rate to 28%. One candidate (Elizabeth Warren) wants to go even further, imposing a new 7% tax on corporate profits above $100 million, a tax that would hit 1,200 businesses and surely result in job losses and price increases.

Investment Taxes: In addition to raising the top individual and corporate tax rates, which would reduce saving and investment, many legislators and candidates also want to tax capital gains as ordinary income, raising the maximum rate to more than 40%. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has gone even further, proposing to tax, at the new higher rate, unrealized capital gains annually, rather than when sold. Wyden and many others also want to tax capital gains at death.

In addition to taxing capital gains, numerous candidates (Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) and House and Senate members (Rep. Peter DeFazio of Oregon and Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii) want to impose a tax on stock and bond transactions. This financial transaction tax would hit workers' pension plans and the retirement savings of millions of middle-class families.

Estate Taxes: A number of proposals have been advanced to raise estate taxes. One proposal from Sanders would reduce the estate tax exemption from $11 million to $3.5 million, which would hit family farms and small businesses, and raise the top estate tax rate to 77%.

Tax increase proponents say these tax increases will only hit the wealthy and big corporations, claims which resonate with many voters. But to raise the revenue needed to pay for the many new promised spending programs, the actual tax increases will need to be broad based and hit every taxpayer in the country.

Over the next 18 months, voters need to hear how these tax increases will damage the economy and their economic future and well being. These tax increases will reduce take-home pay, destroy millions of jobs, harm financial markets, and reduce the saving and investment needed to keep the economy growing. If these tax increases are enacted, our roaring economy, with higher than 3% growth and the lowest unemployment rate in 50 years, will come to a crashing halt.



Bernie Sanders Thinks Medicare for All Would Solve America's Health Care Problems. It Would Make Them Worse

There is a crisis in the nation's health care system. But that crisis is Medicare itself—the program as it exists today.

In an op-ed for USA Today, Sanders says the current status quo is an "economic and medical emergency for millions of Americans." The solution, he argues, is to expand Medicare, the health coverage program for seniors, into a national, government-run health care program, because Medicare "guarantees coverage."

But that guarantee only goes so far—and we may discover its limits sooner rather than later.

In 2026, Medicare's hospital insurance trust fund is expected to become depleted, according to a report last month from the program's actuaries. Initially, it will bring in enough money to pay for about 89 percent of its expenditures. Over the next 20 years, that figure will dip down as low as 78 percent.

Insolvency doesn't mean the program shuts down entirely. But what it does mean is that in less than a decade, the program won't be able to pay all of its bills. When that happens, the program's supposed guarantee won't mean much at all. Health care for millions will be in jeopardy because of the federal government's consistently poor fiscal management.

People who rely on the program may not be able to access the care they need or may face much longer wait times. Benefits might end up being scaled back, or practically unavailable even if they are theoretically guaranteed. Alternatively, Congress could raise taxes to finance the program's full costs. Higher taxes, reduced benefits, longer lines, or some combination of the above: When a shortfall hits, those are the primary options.

Sanders' call for Medicare for All, in other words, ignores the longstanding problems with Medicare itself. His advocacy for single payer is almost entirely unresponsive to the longstanding fiscal challenges of the federal government's largest health care program, which, despite their predictability and inevitability, have proven stubbornly difficult to solve. If anything, Medicare for All would increase the scale of those problems, and put care for millions more people on the line in the process.

Under Sanders' vision of Medicare for All, private health insurance as we know it today would be outlawed. That doesn't just mean no competition. It means no alternative and no escape. So if the program struggles to meet its obligations, and care suffers as a result, there's essentially nowhere else to turn. Sanders would trap every American in a system that would almost certainly struggle with financing from the outset.

That's because Sanders, it's clear, has no idea how to pay for the program he has in mind. His proposal is vastly more generous than comparable universal coverage programs run by other countries. Multiple estimates have found that it would add about $32 trillion to the federal tab over a decade, even under generous assumptions. Yet Sanders has never proposed a specific financing mechanism to offset the massive increase in government spending his single-payer plan would entail.

Nor has he answered numerous other practical, necessary questions that designing and implementing single payer would entail: How exactly would health care providers be paid? What would happen when the expansion of coverage increased demand for health care services—especially if provider payments are simultaneously cut?

American health care has real problems; it's expensive, bureaucratic, and inequitable. But decades of government intervention has, if anything, only made these problems worse—if not created them in the first place. The tax break for employer-sponsored insurance in the aftermath of World War II locked people into job-based coverage and encouraged the purchase of ever-more expensive plans, insulating individuals from the cost of their decisions. The creation of Medicare (and to a lesser extent Medicaid) rapidly funneled huge amounts of federal funding into the hospital system and coincided with decades of increased national spending on health care. Federal health care programs now represent what is arguably the nation's largest long-term fiscal challenge.

But now the long term is almost here. And instead of addressing the deep and difficult problems that persist the current system, Sanders and his followers appear to have only one answer, which is to keep doing the same thing, but more of it. Sanders-style Medicare for All isn't the solution to our health care crisis—it's just a much bigger, much harder to solve version of the same crisis we already face.



Socialism Is Not About Compassion; It’s About Control

Charlie Daniels

What I write here is admittedly theoretical, an opinion cultivated by trying to figure out the end game of those who seem dead set on turning America into a socialist nation, and, at least in my opinion, wittingly or unwittingly, serve a cause that is neither being acknowledged or admitted to. It is but a shadowy end game that lurks in the enclaves of international politics and intrigue.

Obama told America that the manufacturing jobs that had exited America would never come back. Yet he has been proven wrong. I have a hard time believing that an urbane, well-educated president who was privy to international economics and intelligence wouldn’t know what it would take to bring those jobs back to America and was naive enough to actually believe what he said, especially since his successor has made great strides in that direction in two short years.

Could Obama have meant that he didn’t want the jobs to come back, and if so, why not?

We’ll explore that possibility a little further on, but let me lay a little more groundwork here.

What has happened in every instance around the world when the people have either chosen or been forced to accept a socialist government?

Without going through the mechanics of the causes, I think we all know, they all turn into totalitarian, dictatorships with the hand full of elites in control, living in luxury while the masses suffer the results of a system that was doomed to fail from the day it was adopted.

The government controls everything, from the allocation of jobs and education to medical care, military conscription and distribution of food.

Nothing takes place without official permission, which causes almost total dependence on the government. Nobody gets a say in who leads the country except the ones who already lead it, and political dissension and protests are not allowed. Any dissidents can expect a midnight knock on the door.

In America’s case, if a socialist should be elected and had support in Congress, the transition would not come in one fell swoop. It would happen in increments.

How many people are on entitlements? How many people are already totally dependent on government for everything?

Now, having established the fact that millions of Americans have no income, food, housing, medical care or any of the other necessities of life without government assistance, let’s move on.

What if the government stopped sending the monthly check citing the violation of some arcane and meaningless statute, and what would the desperate recipients be willing to do to start the flow of money again?

Answer: almost anything. They may agree to live where they’re told, send their kids to whatever school they’re told, etc.

Now, admittedly, entitlements don’t affect all citizens, and they do not give the government total control over the whole population. But let’s take health care as an example.

What if the only way to see a doctor or have needed treatment was through a government bureaucrat who looked at you like a side of beef, having no medical training and no compassion and was only capable of dispensing “take a number, take a seat”-type attention to your medical problems.

What happens then? You and your loved ones are at the mercy of a cold machine of government entity with an “if you don’t like it, you can lump it” attitude. So you have no choice but to get in line and hope for the best.

How about the price of gasoline and electric power?

What if the sitting House and Senate members were to pass a law that a president can stay in office for twenty years and a packed Supreme Court would uphold it?

The point I’m making here, with a modicum of facetiousness, is that you cannot go down the road to socialism without giving greater power to the government, actually total power, because the whole idea of socialism is giving everything to the government and letting them dole it out as they see fit – putting massive power into the hands of unscrupulous people who have proven they are not above corruption or playing favorites.

They abuse the power they have now. What would they do with this kind of control?

And what would you do if you woke up one day and found out that the president – with unanimous approval from both houses of Congress – had joined a world organization of nations with their headquarters in, shall we say, Brussels?

The answer is: you’d scream and holler, but there’d be little else you could do because you’ve given control of your life and your country to a cabal of globalists in D.C. who slipped in through the back door, their hands full of shiny gifts and promises of free healthcare, free college, guaranteed wages, a cradle to grave carefree utopian life with nothing to worry about but breathing.

Do you think this couldn’t happen in these United States?

What could the people of Russia have done if Stalin, Khrushchev, or Putin for that matter, had joined such a world organization? They’d have no way to fight back, no recourse, and the same is true of China and any other communist dictatorship.

A totally in control government can do anything it wants to, and if they decide to be part of a one world government, the disenfranchised, disarmed public could do little but complain.

Global government is not just a theory, it a very real threat to every free person on the planet, and the United States of America, with its passion for personal freedom and individualism is a fifty-pound fly in their ointment.

If you look at it from the point of view of someone who didn’t much like this nation the way it is and thought the only way to make it better is an all-powerful monolithic government, and who also knows that the fewer jobs there are, the more government dependence there is. Is it possible Obama just didn’t want those jobs to come back?

As we all know, Hillary was a shoe in for the 2016 election, and she was merely a continuation of the initiatives the Obama administration put into place.

“The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”

I know it’s a lot to think about, but if you love America, I would advise you to do some digging and make your own decision about these things.



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

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


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The flat world that never happened

Thomas Friedman’s 2005 “The World is Flat” postulated a world growing ever closer together, with diminishing barriers both trade and political and a gradual move towards at least elements of world government. With all due respect to Mr. Friedman, this never happened, and does not appear likely to. The questions that arise are: Why not? and Where are we going instead?

“The World is Flat” appeared plausible in the decade after 2005, which is all you can ask a successful book to do, but it was always based on an illusion. After the collapse of Communism in 1991, it had appeared that there were no major divisions between the world’s major powers, so one could envisage the world converging on a kind of lowest-common-denominator social democracy (one could envisage the world converging on truly free capitalism as well, but only if one were completely delusional!)

If the world’s major powers were indeed converging on social democracy, then there would seem little reason why their economies should not converge as well. The “Washington Consensus” a kind of social democrat version of the free market with supposedly benign governments guiding the market so that everybody got gradually richer, could in the Friedman view gradually allow the world to “globalize” with no trade barriers, benignly run large corporations with good governance managing the economy, under the overall control of benign governments, who would set the “ground rules” by international consensus. Living standards would converge worldwide, and over time more and more of the functions of government could be taken over by international bodies, theoretically selected by national governments, but staffed with all-knowing, benign bureaucrats.

For anyone who believes in individual freedom, it was a ghastly prospect. It was also completely contrary to human nature, not allowing at all for the human failings of the Platonic guardians who ran the international bureaucracies. But New York Times writers like Friedman don’t believe in freedom and have very little understanding of human nature.

Make no mistake, there are still powerful forces pushing us towards this dystopia. Google and Facebook, for example, are near-monopolies in their spheres, and their management appears infected with the Thomas Friedman way of thinking. Since their worldview offers no place for dissent from itself, those companies will continue doing everything in their power to prevent contrary voices from emerging. They are instruments of a failed globalist police state, just as the labor camps were instruments of the Soviet tyranny.



Fake Bombshell: Trump Admitted Losses a Decade Ago

Trump Freely Admits in Old Video: 'I Was Billions of Dollars in Debt' About 13 Years Ago

A promotional video put out by President Trump years ago throws cold water on the New York Times' exclusive "bombshell" report about Trump's taxes showing "staggering" business losses of more than $1 billion from 1985 through 1994.

In the video, Trump freely admitted that he was "billions of dollars in debt" during that time period.

"I'm Donald Trump and I'm the largest real estate developer in New York. I own buildings all over the place, model agencies, the Miss Universe Pageant, jetliners, golf courses, casinos, and private resorts like Mar-a-Lago -- one of the most spectacular estates anywhere in the world," the bombastic billionaire boasted. "But it wasn't always so easy. About thirteen years ago, I was seriously in trouble. I was billions of dollars in debt. But I fought back and I won -- big league!" he declared.

The big story in the Times in October 1995, in fact, was that Trump was the "Comeback King":

"Though there are still four years to go in the 90's, business and government leaders in New York honored Donald J. Trump yesterday for pulling off what they called "the comeback of the decade." Mr. Trump, the developer who came to epitomize opulent wealth during the 80's before tumbling into deep financial trouble, has managed to erase much of his debt and is moving ahead with major projects at a time other developers are idling."

On Fox and Friends Wednesday morning, Newt Gingrich blasted the hypocrisy of politicians and reporters who are pushing the alleged bombshell.

"It would be fun, for example, to challenge the owner of the New York Times to release all of his tax returns and find out how many loopholes and shelters the New York Times and the family have taken over the last forty or fifty years," he said. "It would be fascinating to have Nancy Pelosi release her family tax returns, find out how many different things they've done because they're pretty rich," he added.

Gingrich pointed out that Trump was "a very serious businessman" who always had the best lawyers and accountants, suggesting that the methods he used to avoid paying taxes were above board.



Socialized medicine update

Compensation paid out for harm and deaths caused by NHS delays and blunders has doubled in five years, an investigation reveals.

Patients groups said the increase in negligence payouts was “extremely worrying” - warning that lives are being lost because of a steep rise in waits for appointments, diagnosis and treatment.

Official figures reveal that in 2017/18 the NHS paid out £655 million in compensation for such cases - an increase from £327 million in 2013/14.

In total, 1,789 patients, or their bereaved families, received payouts in 2017/18, a rise from 1,406 cases in 2013/14.



Capitalism Will Save Us -- If Only We Let It

“With all thy getting, get understanding." (Proverbs 4:7)

HARDLY A DAY goes by without some eminence from business or finance proclaiming with furrowed brow and seeming sorrow that capitalism is in crisis and must be overhauled if it is to survive and not be replaced with some variant of socialism. Inequality, climate change, obscene levels of corporate profits, stagnant wages, soaring healthcare costs, crushing levels of student debt, rampant Wall Street greed, high-tech monsters and much more are all laid at the feet of an allegedly heartless, unresponsive capitalistic system.

It ain't so. Contrary to all this highbrow hand-wringing, the problem is bad government policies and, worse, a fundamental misunderstanding of free markets. It's time for a reality check regarding this much-maligned system.

Capitalism, free enterprise, free markets--whatever you label our system--is moral because one succeeds by meeting the needs and wants of other people. An entrepreneur tries to discern needs people don't know they have until a product or service is introduced to the market. Think Steve Jobs and the iPhone and iPad. Businesspeople try to persuade you to buy what they offer. Unless the government gets involved, there is no coercion. Countless people are trying to come up with ways to make everyone's lives better. If they succeed, they might (gasp!) get rich, but we are all better off.

Ever more sophisticated supply chains rise up, which work precisely because no tsar or central planner is in charge.

Government mistakes--not inherent flaws in free markets--are at the root of every economic crisis in modern times.

The Great Depression was triggered by the draconian Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which imposed higher taxes on thousands of import items, triggering a global trade war that devastated economies. This felony was compounded when countries--Germany, Britain and the U.S. were the worst offenders--substantially raised taxes in the teeth of a sharp downturn.

The terrible inflation of the 1970s was the result of the Federal Reserve and other central banks repeatedly printing too much money. The crisis of 2008–09 sprang from the U.S. deliberately weakening the dollar, which set off a flight to hard assets such as housing.

High taxes are growth-killers.

 Taxes are a burden. Countries that keep the burden light do better than those that don't. After it recovered from WWII, Europe had growth rates comparable to or even better than those of the U.S. But in the 1970s the weight of taxation became heavier and heavier with the imposition of VATs and higher effective income tax rates. Result: microscopic paces of expansion.

Every time the U.S. has enacted big tax cuts, its economy has blossomed. The economy's post-Obama pickup came from the 2017 tax reduction and deregulation.

Excessive regulations hurt.

 Regulatory expert Philip Howard cites a typical example: An upstate New York apple orchard is subject to 5,000 rules from 17 different programs. Regulations cost the U.S. some $2 trillion a year. On average, a manufacturer pays $2,000 to $4,000 in annual taxes per worker; its regulatory burden is $20,000 to $35,000. Is it any wonder that manufacturing has suffered until recently?

Don't blame student debt on free enterprise.

 Government is the villain. With the best intentions Washington created programs to help people pay for college, primarily Pell Grants and student loans. Studies from the New York Fed and others confirm that the more money colleges collected via these schemes, the more students were charged.

High-priced healthcare is not a failure of capitalism.

 Free markets are the solution here, not more government control. Ours is a third-party healthcare system: government (primarily Medicare and Medicaid), insurance companies and large employers, not consumers. Hospitals' revenues depend on how well they negotiate with third parties, not on how well they please their patients. What a drug company charges for a medicine is far smaller than what you see reflected on a hospital bill. A big chunk of the price charged goes to pay pharmaceutical benefit managers. Discovering in advance what a procedure might cost is a Herculean effort.

In normal markets, if you make an advance in productivity, competitors will likely follow suit quickly. Not so in healthcare or higher ed.

The Surgery Center of Oklahoma posts all of its prices online. It has topflight surgeons; its overhead is low, by industry standards; and the cost of an operation is a fraction of that charged at traditional hospitals and clinics because patients pay the entire amount in advance. (Prices are higher if a patient wants the center to file their insurance claim.) Yet it has few imitators. Why? Because there is no consumer market. Since third parties foot most of the bill, most patients have no incentive to compare quality and prices, and would be hard put to do so even if they wanted to.

Take electronic records. Every dry cleaner and gas station has had them for 20 years. But not healthcare providers: There was no competitive advantage. Then Washington decided to mandate them but did so destructively, in a manner worthy of the defunct Soviet Union.

Purdue University president Mitch Daniels has frozen tuitions since he took office in 2013. He has enacted numerous efficiencies, so that to attend this prestigious institution a student today pays less than a student did six years ago. By the way, Daniels has boosted the number of Purdue's tenured professors.

But just as with the case of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma and other hospitals, there's no stampede of colleges and universities urgently following Purdue's example.

Free markets reduce poverty.

 Real incomes per person have risen over 50-fold since we achieved independence. Before the Industrial Revolution, which capitalism made possible, individual incomes in the world grew imperceptibly. Today, despite all the economic policy mistakes, poverty is plummeting. Over the past 20 years, 1 billion people have escaped abject poverty.

Free markets always turn scarcity into abundance, today's luxuries into tomorrow's common products.

 Among countless examples is the handheld phone. The first cellphone of the early 1980s--which could only make calls--was as large as a shoe box, weighed as much as a brick, had barely an hour of battery life and cost $3,995. Today there are billions of cellphones, and most have the capability that a supercomputer had a couple of decades ago.

The same happy phenomenon of getting more for less would happen in healthcare if certain free-market reforms were enacted, such as nationwide shopping for medical insurance and removing restrictions on medical savings accounts.


Wages, until recently, had stagnated since the financial crisis of 2008, and they hadn't been improving much in the decade before then. Once again, the problem was faulty government actions.

Investment is the sine qua non for progress, and more investment takes place when money has a stable value. Until the 1970s the dollar had been fixed to gold, and the U.S. economy had grown as no other nation's ever had before. But since then our average growth has declined 25% or more. And guess what: Income growth hasn't been as robust as when we were on the gold standard, either.

Another factor: relentlessly rising medical costs. Employer-provided insurance counts as part of an employee's compensation. Even though compensation has risen, the cash part has lagged. Not helping, either, has been the surge in federal payroll taxes, labeled "FICA" on your paycheck stub. With a regime of low taxes, a trustworthy dollar and a patient-oriented healthcare system, cash wages would rise very nicely.

Profits are essential.

 They are moral. Without them, the economy stagnates and regresses. The economist Joseph Schumpeter famously coined the phrase "creative destruction." Vibrant economies need enormous amounts of new capital to move forward. Change constantly destroys old capital--look at what the internet did to the value of legacy newspaper and magazine publishers--which must be replaced. Capital is needed to finance startups (most fail) and expansions as well as the productivity improvements of existing businesses. Capital comes from profits and savings. In that sense profit is a cost of doing business.

More and more young people want to work for outfits that are not "just" business.

This is one of the great virtues of capitalism: The system seamlessly adjusts to people's wants and expectations. Wise companies quickly pick up and respond to these changes. Forbes has written frequently about these companies and the individuals pioneering their efforts.

Some people in business do bad, amoral or unethical things.

 Yes, they do, but that's not something unique to capitalism. People were guilty of bad behavior long before Adam Smith penned his capitalist classic, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, in 1776. Moreover, in an open, free-market and democratic system, the bad ones are usually flushed out, unlike in authoritarian or socialist regimes.

Socialism never works.

It always leads to blood, tyranny and tears, as can be seen today in Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea and in the recent past in the Soviet Union, Maoist China and communist Cambodia (where, in less than four years, the regime slaughtered more than one fourth of the population).

What about the "socialism" of Scandinavia and Europe?

 They are not socialist in the sense that the government owns and runs the economy. Many of these countries have elaborate welfare programs, restrictive labor laws and overtaxation. But all this is beginning to change.

What self-styled American socialists overlook is that countries like Sweden have been scaling back government. Sweden has been cutting taxes. It has no inheritance tax, and it allows school choice, which is anathema to Bernie Sanders and his ilk. As for the rest of the EU, the average rate of economic growth since the crisis of 2008 has been minuscule, less than half that of the U.S.

More to the point, capitalism creates the wealth that makes welfare states possible. That's why more and more Europeans are looking at pro-capitalist reforms, such as low taxes, to gin up their economies.



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, May 14, 2019

Statins DAMAGE your heart

The slow unwinding of a fraud continues

Statins stimulate atherosclerosis and heart failure: pharmacological mechanisms

Harumi Okuyama et al.


In contrast to the current belief that cholesterol reduction with statins decreases atherosclerosis, we present a perspective that statins may be causative in coronary artery calcification and can function as mitochondrial toxins that impair muscle function in the heart and blood vessels through the depletion of coenzyme Q10 and ‘heme A’, and thereby ATP generation. Statins inhibit the synthesis of vitamin K2, the cofactor for matrix Gla-protein activation, which in turn protects arteries from calcification. Statins inhibit the biosynthesis of selenium containing proteins, one of which is glutathione peroxidase serving to suppress peroxidative stress. An impairment of selenoprotein biosynthesis may be a factor in congestive heart failure, reminiscent of the dilated cardiomyopathies seen with selenium deficiency. Thus, the epidemic of heart failure and atherosclerosis that plagues the modern world may paradoxically be aggravated by the pervasive use of statin drugs. We propose that current statin treatment guidelines be critically reevaluated.

Expert Review of Clinical Pharmacology, Volume 8, 2015 - Issue 2


NEW BOOK: Lynn, R. & Becker, D. (2019). "The Intelligence of Nations" London: Ulster Institute for Social Research. ISBN 97809930000157. £20

It has generally been assumed by economists and sociologists that all peoples in the world have the same intelligence. Now a new study shows that this is far from the case and that there are large differences in the IQs of different peoples and that these differences explain a number of economic and social phenomena.

Richard Lynn, a Cambridge educated psychologist and former professor of psychology at the University of Ulster, and David Becker, a political scientist at Chemnitz University in Germany, have collected the IQs for virtually all nations in the world. Their results show that IQs range from the highest of 106 in Japan, Singapore and Taiwan, closely followed by Hong Kong (105), China (104) and South Korea (102) to the lowest in Nepal (43), Sierra Leone (45), Guatemala (48), Nicaragua (53), Gambia (53), Ghana (58) and South Sudan (59). Analysed by regions, IQs are highest in North East Asia at 105, followed by Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand at 100, falling in Southern Europe to 94 in Italy, 93 in Spain and Portugal, and 91 in Greece and Malta.  IQs fall further to 84 in North Africa and South Asia, and finally to 70 in sub-Saharan Africa.

In the Americas IQs are the highest at 99 in Canada, 97 in the United States and 96 in Argentina and are in the 80s in most of Latin America, e.g. 88 in Chile and Mexico, and 83 in Venezuela and Colombia, while (as noted above) to the very low IQs of 53 in Nicaragua and 48 in Guatemala.

Lynn and Becker claim that differences in national IQs are resposible for much of the disparities in wealth between different peoples. This problem has been discussed since the eighteenth century when it was analysed by Adam Smith in his An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), in which he argued that the principal factors responsible for national wealth were specialisation and the division of labour, the skills of the population and free markets. From this time up to the present day, numerous theories have been proposed by economists and sociologists to explain why some nations are so rich and others are so poor.

Lynn and Becker argue that it is well established that IQs are a major determinant of earnings among individuals. As most parents know, siblings generally differ in their IQs and it has been found that the sibling with the higher IQ normally achieves a higher income. They argue that higher intelligence brings higher earnings because intelligence is the ability to learn effectively and to solve problems. People with high intelligence lean to acquire more productive skills and can solve more problems than those with low intelligence. Lynn and Becker argue that the same is true for nations.They argue that the intelligence of the populations together with strong market economies are the two major determinants of national differences in per capita incomes. They regard an additonal factors as the possession of natural resources, especially oil and minerals.

Lynn and Becker also show that national IQs contribute to the explanation of national differences in economic growth in the decades following the end of World War Two. In particular the high IQs of the North East Asians contributed to rapid economic growth of Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore and, more recently, of China after it had thown of the constaints of communism and adopted a market economy. Conversely, the low IQs in sub-Saharan Africa contributed to the explanation of its low economic growth and continuing poverty.

Lynn and Becker argue that national IQs explain a number of other economic and social phenomena. National IQs explain much of the differences in educational attainment, intellectual achievements such as innnovative patents and Nobel prizes, political institutions (e.g. democracy and a market economy), happiness, health and nutrition. They also argue that low national IQs explain greater belief in religion, higher rates of crime and higher fertility. They argue that because of the higher fertility in low nations, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, the IQ of the world is declining.

Lynn and Becker discuss the causes of national differences in intelligence. They show that these are strongly associated with the colder environments of Europe and Northeast Asia and argue that highter intelligence evolved in the European and Northeast Asian peoples to survive in these colder latitudes during the last ice age that lasted from around 28,000 years ago to around 12,000 years ago. They show that the European and Northeast Asian peoples evolved large brain size to accommodate their greater intelligence.

Lynn and Becker conclude by discussing the future of national IQs. They argue that the IQs in Europe, the United States and Canada will decline as a result of the low fertility of women graduates with high IQs because many of these are not having children. This is because many of them spend their twenties advancing their careers and then find they are not able to have children, are unable to find a partner with whom to have them or do not want to have them. They have been educated out of their biological function. IQs in Europe will also decline as a result of the immigration of peoples with low IQs from Africa and South Asia. IQs in the United States and Canada will also decline as a result of the immigration of peoples with low IQs from Latin America. They argue that Donald Trump's wall along the southern border with Mexico will not be effective in preventing continuing Latin American immigration. They argue that intelligence will continue to increase in China and that as the IQs in Europe and the United States declines, China will emerge as the world's superpower in the second half of the twenty-first century.

Via email


The importance of standing up to China


Appearing on Lou Dobbs' Fox Business Network show on Monday, former White House Chief Strategist and (also former) Breitbart boss Steve Bannon said that yesterday was the single most important day of Donald Trump's presidency. The reason? He stood up to China.

"I happen to think that today [Monday] was the most important day of Donald Trump's presidency," Bannon told Dobbs. "He's president of the United States because of the rejection of working-class people and middle-class people, about the managed decline of our country at the hands of people like Hillary Clinton. The Clinton global initiative, the whole Clinton apparatus. These globalists and elitists were very comfortable with the managed decline, particularly vis-a-vis the rise of China. And Donald Trump confronted that, particularly in the upper Midwest. This is the reason he won states like Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Ohio. People understand [...] the factories went to China, the jobs went to China, and the opioids came in. So I think that Trump understands that tariffs are more than taxes. They're more about self-empowerment of the working class."

Not only does Trump understand this, Bannon said, but he also explained it very well. "Today he said that [...] 'I'm not going to do this, you're not gonna come back and retrade us. I'm going to hit you with the tariffs.' And I think this is a very big week in American economic history," he added.

In this regard, Bannon explained, it's important to keep in mind that the pressure on Trump to be soft on China has been enormous. "The IR department of the Chinese Communist Party, the Investors Relations department, is Wall Street, the lobbyists of corporate America. The pressure on President Trump has been relentless, and it's all the Fear Project."

Project Fear, he went on, is that we're being told that "if you don't actually get a deal that's just about buying more soya beans, you're going to have a collapse of the stock market and economic catastrophe. President Trump has stood up against that. President Trump says, 'No! This is an economic war.' We're going to have fundamental, structural change in the state capitalism that China has. China has this system of state capitalism. We are going to get changes on forced technology transfers, subsidies to state-owned industries, intellectual property... These are deep issues."

What's more, Bannon said, these moves by Trump aren't aimed at the Chinese people, but at their authoritarian rulers, who use their power and influence to enrich themselves, their family and their friends, while the average Chinese citizen continues to struggle (and is forced to keep his mouth shut about political issues -- or else).

In other words, American lobbyists and Wall Street investors -- who are putting pressure on Trump -- are actually helping an enemy of the American and of the Chinese people, namely the Chinese Communist Party.

Although I'm naturally inclined to argue against imposing tariffs -- this stems from my belief in the free market system: international free trade has proven to be good for everybody -- my views have evolved over the last few years.

First of all, Trump has shown that the threat of imposing or increasing tariffs is a very powerful negotiating tool. So making clear you'd never do so immediately sets you back. Trading "partners" have to at least believe you may do something with tariffs.

Secondly, it's been made increasingly clear that the United States has been treated unfairly by its supposed "partners" for years. Other countries impose tariffs on American products -- there's a reason you see almost no American cars in Europe -- but when the U.S. talks about doing the same, they cry foul and pretend to be all about free trade. That's not how this is supposed to work. Either both parties don't use tariffs, or they both do. If European and Asian countries want their products to be exported to the U.S. without extra added costs, they'll have to return the favor. Until today, they haven't done so.

So, it does make perfect sense for Trump to a) threaten with an increase of tariffs and b) to actually follow through on his threats if America's "partners" don't change their policies.



Strong support in North Carolina for term limits on congress

U.S. Term Limits (USTL) praises Sandy Smith, North Carolina candidate for U.S. Senate, for signing the pledge to term limit Congress. Smith is challenging incumbent and co-sponsor Senator Thom Tillis who also signed the U.S. Term Limits pledge.

Congressional term limits are an extremely popular reform among special election candidates. To date, there have been twelve candidates in the North Carolina congressional district 03 race who signed the pledge. Candidates Tim Harris, Dana Outlaw, Phil Law, Jeff Moore, state representative Phil Shepard (HD-15), Gary Ceres, Col. Francis De Luca, Chimer David Clark Jr., Dr. Kevin Baiko, Dr. Joan Perry, Mike Payment and Celeste Cairns have all committed their support.

In the NC congressional district 9 race, five candidates have pledged, if elected, to cosponsor a congressional term limits amendment. They are Stony Rushing, Stevie Rivenbark, Matthew Ridenhour, Leigh Brown and State Senator Dan Bishop.

Currently, U.S. Term Limits has nearly 70 pledge signers in Congress. USTL President Philip Blumel commented on the extremely popular support saying, “These pledges show that there are individuals who are willing to put self-interest aside to follow the will of the people. America needs a Congress that will be served by citizen legislators, not career politicians.

The U.S. Term Limits amendment pledge is provided to every announced candidate for federal office. It reads, “I pledge that as a member of Congress, I will cosponsor and vote for the U.S. Term Limits amendment of three (3) House terms and two (2) Senate terms and no longer limit.” The U.S. Term Limits constitutional amendment has been introduced in both the U.S. Senate by Senator Ted Cruz (SJR1) and the U.S. House by Representative Francis Rooney (HJR20).

Blumel noted, “We have seen a dramatic increase in supporters wanting term limits on Congress. More than 82% of Americans have rejected the career politician model and want to replace it with citizen leadership. The way to achieve that goal is through congressional term limits.”

According to the latest nationwide poll on term limits conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, conducted in January 2018, term limits enjoy wide bipartisan support. McLaughlin’s analysis states, “Support for term limits is broad and strong across all political, geographic and demographic groups. An overwhelming 82% of voters approve of a Constitutional Amendment that will place term limits on members of Congress.”



Fewer Manufacturing Jobs, and More Millionaires

A recent study by market research group New World Wealth revealed that 108,000 millionaires “migrated across borders” in 2018. Australia, the United States, Canada and Switzerland were the biggest recipients of the well-to-do, while Turkey, India, Russia and China were the biggest losers. We emphasize losers simply because nothing harms a country more than the loss of financial and human capital. 

This rates discussion in consideration of the well-worn pledge made by members of the political class to “bring back” jobs. Manufacturing jobs are a particularly popular political promise, but if our leaders are really interested in helping their constituents, they would instead commit themselves to relentless recruitment of the world’s millionaires and billionaires. Yes, you read that right. We’re saying politicians should go against type court the rich. Please read on.

Fairly explicit in the migration of the world’s prosperous is a desire among those with means to protect their wealth from the grasping hands of politicians. Translated, the country they choose is likely to be where they put the lion’s share of their millions and billions to work. That all economic opportunity is a certain consequence of investment speaks to how essential are the world’s much-demonized ‘1 percenters’ to economic growth.

The rich and superrich uniquely possess the unspent wealth without which there is no progress. Contrary to what they teach in high school and college economics classes, consumption doesn’t drive economic growth. If it did, Peru would be as prosperous as the United States. Peruvians have consumptive desires similar to ours, but they consume less than we do precisely because they produce exponentially fewer goods and services than we do. Behind all consumption is production first. The investment that the rich provide is the driver of ever-increasing production.

Very notable about the rich is that they don’t solely bring financial capital with them. Many, and realistically most, bring much more valuable commercial capabilities that are a magnet for investment.

If anyone doubts the above assertion, they need only ask themselves what would happen if Jeff Bezos, Peter Thiel and Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to respectively move to Baltimore, Cleveland and Detroit. Each would bring much more than his multi-billion dollar net worth. To be clear, billions worth of investment would follow these most enterprising of entrepreneurs, but even more important for the growth of the now-struggling cities would be the human capital that would follow Bezos, Thiel and Zuckerberg to these somewhat “forgotten” locales.

Seemingly lost in all the political and media hype about cities supposedly harmed by factory closures is that the loss of a factory could never consign a city to also-ran status. If it could, New York and Los Angeles would be the most economically devastated places in the United States.

Indeed, one hundred years ago New York (#1) and Los Angeles (#4) listed among the top manufacturing hubs in the U.S. And while the factories and the jobs formerly within them are gone, each city thrives precisely because it’s a magnet for the mega-talented individuals whose wealth and talent powers progress, and that exists as a lure for millions of ambitious people from around the United States and around the world. Other cities like Austin, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Phoenix and Seattle can similarly claim strivers from all over. That so many people aren’t from the cities mentioned speaks to why they’re booming.  Economies are made up of people, and people generally migrate to where the rich and enterprising already live and work. That’s where the opportunity is.

That’s why the desire among politicians to hide their affinity for the rich and superrich strikes us as so odd. Why would they do that? Where the rich locate their wealth and talent is nearly always where the economic growth is. Voters can handle this truth, and more realistically they’re living this truth. That’s why the populations of the cities populated by so many millionaires and billionaires continue to grow.

It’s time for politicians to catch their rhetoric and actions up to economic realities. Taking nothing away from labor unions and factories, their arrival into a city or town won’t result in booming growth. But the arrival of millionaires and billionaires surely will. Looking ahead, we’ll know that politicians are truly serious about prosperity when they start their campaigns not in a union hall or pizza joint, but in the office of a billionaire.



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, May 13, 2019

Here we go again: Trump is insane!

Bandy Lee is leading the charge again.  She never gives up.

She is a NYC "shrink" (psychiatrist) so is an expert at attributing motives that may or may not be there.  And Mr Trump is giving her frabjous joy, as we see in her article below.

Psychologists are generally rather contemptuous of psychiatrists on the grounds that their conclusions are only weakly based on evidence.  And I am one of those critics.  As a social psychologist (I have many articles in the Journal of Social Psychology) I am quite amazed at Dr. Lee's apparent ignorance of the demand characteristics of the situation under which her "evidence" was produced.

Let me describe it.  Robert Mueller was running a show which was devoted to finding "dirt" on Donald J. Trump.  And all the media were proclaiming that the whole thing was a lay down misere and that Mr Trump would soon be booted from office. What would you do if you were interrogated by Mr Mueller in that situation?

You would engage in what is colloquially called "ass-covering".  You would portray Mr Trump in as bad a light as you could without actually lying.  So you would be one of the good guys if Trump fell. You wouldn't lie outright in case Trump survived and came to get you. You would generalize, exaggerate, interpret and "forget" things like context.

And an awareness of that situation makes plausible what Mr Trump said about the Mueller report: That it is a pack of lies.  Since Trump was right and the media were wrong about his Russia connection, should we not take the word of the one man who has demonstrably come out clean from all the accusations?  I do.  Dr Lee is building her castle on sand, on fiction, to be precise.  Her continuing poorly-founded interest in Mr Trump's mental health seems rather obsessional, and hence not fully sane

Concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness for the office of president arose during the campaign and continue to this day. But now, in the Mueller report, we have an abundance of new evidence that sheds light on these concerns. What makes this a unique opportunity is the quality and relevance of the data: They are derived from multiple sources both friendly and opposed to the president, were obtained under oath, and show us how the president conducted himself in the eyes of those who worked directly with him while in office.

While we were concerned enough to put our initial cautions in a public-service book, “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” each additional piece of evidence has substantiated the correctness of that assessment over time. Now, the Mueller report elevates this assessment to new levels. Here is just a small sampling:

“The president’s efforts to influence the investigation were mostly unsuccessful, but that is largely because the persons who surrounded the President declined to carry out orders.” (Vol. II, p. 158)

The pattern that emerges of the president is one of rash, short-sighted decision-making, without consideration of consequences. He is protected only by actions on the part of former FBI director James Comey, former White House counsel Don McGahn, and former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who, in effect, shield the president from himself by refusing or failing to follow his directions. Reckless, impulsive moves that are self-destructive, despite the intention of self-protection, are characteristic of dangerous impairment. They impede Trump’s capacity to prioritize national security.

“The president asked [former chief of staff Reince] Priebus to reach out to [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn and let him know that the president still cared about him.” (Vol. II, p. 43)

“[Former campaign chairman Paul] Manafort told [Manafort’s former business partner Rick] Gates that he had talked to the president’s personal counsel and they were ‘going to take care of us.’ ” (Vol. II, p. 123)

“[Attorney Robert] Costello told Cohen the conversation was ‘very, very positive . . . you are loved’ . . . you have friends in high places.’ ” (Vol. II, p. 147)

The president reveals that he operates from a different logic than the rule of law, or commonly held principles, in a manner that is manipulative and incompatible with democracy. His seditious manner and encouragement of similar subversion of institutions is closely connected to a view of the world as a threatening place where he must fight for himself and buttress his support. This is a paranoid stance that can quickly turn into violence when a paranoid person is feeling cornered, as corroborated by the president’s later attacks and threats against Cohen when the latter started cooperating with the special counsel. This is a dangerous mindset.

“According to notes written by [Jody] Hunt [chief of staff to then-attorney general Jeff Sessions], when Sessions told the president that a special counsel had been appointed, the president slumped back in his chair and said, ‘Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my presidency. I’m f-----d.’ [Former communications director Hope] Hicks saw the president shortly after Sessions departed and described the president as being extremely upset. . . . [S]he had only seen the president like that one other time, when the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape came out during the campaign.’’ (Vol. II, pp. 78-79)

These episodes demonstrate not only a lack of control over emotions but preoccupation with threats to the self. There is no room for consideration of national plans or policies, or his own role in bringing about his predicament and how he might change, but instead a singular focus on how he is a victim of circumstance and his familiar whining about unfairness.

This mindset can easily turn into rage reactions; it is commonly found in violent offenders in the criminal justice system, who perpetually consider themselves victims under attack, even as they perpetrate violence against others, often without provocation. In this manner, a “victim mentality” and paranoia are symptoms that carry a high risk of violence.

“We noted, among other things, that the president stated on more than 30 occasions that he ‘does not recall’ or ‘remember’ or have an ‘independent recollection’ of information called for by the questions. Other answers were ‘incomplete or imprecise.’ ” (Vol. II, p. C-1)

This response is from a president who, in public rallies, rarely lacks certainty, no matter how false his assertions and claims that he has “the world’s greatest memory” and “one of the great memories of all time.” His lack of recall is particularly meaningful in the context of his unprecedented mendacity, which alone is dangerous and divisive for the country. Whether he truly does not remember or is totally fabricating, either is pathological and highly dangerous in someone who has command over the largest military in the world and over thousands of nuclear weapons.

The Mueller report details numerous lies by the president, perhaps most clearly regarding his handling of the disclosure of the meeting at Trump Tower (Vol II, p. 98ff). First he denied knowing about the meeting, then described it as only about adoption, then denied crafting his son’s response, and then, in his formal response to Mueller, conceded that it was he who dictated the press release. Lying per se is not especially remarkable. Coupled with the other characteristics noted here, however, lying becomes a part of a pervasive, compelling, reflexive pattern of distraught gut reactions for handling challenges by misleading, manipulating, and blocking others’ access to the truth. Rather than being seen as bona fide alternatives, challenges are perceived as personal threats and responded to in a dangerous, no-holds-barred manner.

“ ‘Call Rod, tell Rod that Mueller has conflicts and can’t be the special counsel.’ McGahn recalled the president telling him ‘Mueller has to go’ and ‘Call me back when you do it.’ ” (Vol. II, p. 86)

This incident merits singling out not only because of its egregiousness, but also because of its foolishness. In a post-Nixon era, and especially after the experience of firing Comey, a rational, non-impulsive person with reality-based decision-making would hesitate before pursuing this path. Congruent with his reasons for firing Comey, “to take the pressure off,” he apparently believed he could use all the powers at his disposal to have his way, and almost delusionally expected impunity. Such a mindset of false beliefs in freedom from consequences is extremely dangerous when coupled with power and is great cause for alarm in the US presidency.

As mental health professionals, we are able to offer our understanding of behavior when it reflects profound impairment. The psychological nature of the president’s impairments is thoroughly revealed in the Mueller report. The report has documented the president as willful, enormously self-absorbed, ruthlessly exploitative, threatened, and delusionally heedless of the consequences of his impulsive actions. His dangerousness constitutes a national crisis.


When Reality Bucks Certain Democratic Wishes and Dreams
“We are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.”

That was New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, making a prediction on Election Night in 2016 about what we could expect under President Trump.

Month after month, however, Mr. Krugman’s crystal ball has proven untrustworthy. But surely vindication would come sooner or later, right?

After all, Mr. Krugman’s not just any columnist. He’s a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

And he wasn’t alone in predicting gloom and doom under Mr. Trump. Many other liberal economists foresaw catastrophe on the horizon.

Fast forward to the latest monthly employment numbers, though, and you find reality simply refuses to play along with their hopes er, prognosis.

Again, we got some stellar figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In April, the economy created some 263,000 jobs, even better than the already impressive 213,000 jobs per month that has been created on average over the last year. We’re now up to 103 straight months of job creation.

The unemployment rate is at 3.6 percent. That’s the lowest it’s been in almost 50 years. You’d have to go back to the days of the first moon landing to get an employment rate this good. It’s 3.1 percent for adult women — the lowest since 1953 — and 4.1 percent for Hispanics, which is the lowest it’s ever been.

Wages, meanwhile, continue to grow, especially for those on the lower end of the economic scale. “The recent wage gains have been largest for those who need it most,” writes tax expert Adam Michel. “For the last six months, wage growth for production and non-supervisory workers outpaced the average for the entire economy.”

The continued good news has left a number of economic watchers more than a bit confounded. “The labor market the United States is experiencing right now wasn’t supposed to be possible,” writes Neil Irwin in The New York Times.

If the conventional wisdom proved correct, for example, we’d been experiencing some serious inflation right now. Three years ago, the Federal Reserve was predicting 4.8 percent unemployment in 2019, with 2 percent inflation. Instead, of course, the jobless figure is a full 1.2 percentage points lower, and inflation is only 1.6 percent over the last year.

Some liberals insist that Mr. Trump doesn’t deserve the credit — that what we’re seeing is simply a continuation of good economic news that began before Mr. Trump took office.

True, the job market had been improving for a while before he became president. But, Mr. Irwin writes, “After more than two years of the Trump administration, warnings that trade wars and erratic management style would throw the economy off course have proved wrong so far, and tax cuts and deregulation are most likely part of the reason for the strong growth rates in 2018 and the beginning of 2019.”

But even as we savor the benefits of a strong economy (and enjoy how wrong the naysayers have once again proved themselves to be), this is no time to stand pat. Lawmakers need to keep tax rates and tariffs low. They can start by doing two things above all else.

One, make the 2017 tax cut permanent. The cut has been doing some good work, but key provisions are set to expire after 2025. The economy will do even better once employers and businesses know the cut won’t be going away.

Second, tame out-of-control spending. Politicians once took their responsibility to be sensible stewards of the national purse seriously, but profligacy has since become a way of life on both sides of the aisle. The tremendous amount of debt we’re accumulating will saddle future generations with higher taxes and less opportunity.

And if we don’t attack this problem when our economy is so strong, when will we? So let’s act — and shore up the tremendous gains we’ve seen so far.



Discrimination Isn’t the Only Thing Causing Inequality

Walter E. Williams

Last week’s column discussed Thomas Sowell’s newest book “Discrimination and Disparities,” which is an enlarged and revised edition of an earlier version. In this review, I am going to focus on one of his richest chapters titled “Social Visions and Human Consequences.”

Sowell challenges the seemingly invincible fallacy “that group outcomes in human endeavors would tend to be equal, or at least comparable or random, if there were no biased interventions, on the one hand, nor genetic deficiencies, on the other.”

But disparate impact statistics carries the day among academicians, lawyers, and courts as evidence of discrimination.

Sowell gives the example of blacks, who make up close to 70% of NFL and AFL players in professional football. Blacks are greatly overrepresented among star players but almost nonexistent among field goal kickers and punters. Probably the only reason why lawsuits are not brought against team owners is that the same people hire running backs and field goal kickers.

One wonders whether anyone has considered the possibility that professional black players do not want to be punters and field goal kickers?

Different social classes raise their children differently. Studies have shown that children whose parents are professional heard more words per hour than children whose families are on welfare. Studies show that professional parents used “more words and more different words … more multiclause sentences, more past and future verb tenses. … The ratio of affirmative words to negative words was six to one with parents who had professional occupation.”

By contrast, families on welfare used discouraging words more than 2 to 1: words such as “Don’t,” “Stop,” “Quit,” and “Shut up.”

Sowell sarcastically asks, are we to believe that children raised in such different ways, many years before they reach an employer, a college admissions office, or crime scene are the same in capabilities, orientation, and limitations?

Social justice warriors ignore many differences that have little or nothing to do with discrimination but have an enormous impact on outcomes. Age is one of those factors.

Median age differences between groups, sometimes of a decade or two, will have an enormous impact on observed group outcomes. The median age for American Jews is slightly over 50 years old and that of Latinos is 28.

Just on median age alone, would one be surprised at significant group income disparity and other differences related to age?

Sowell says that a single inconspicuous difference in circumstance can make a huge historical difference in human outcomes.

During the 1840s, Ireland experienced a potato famine. Potatoes were the principle food of the Irish. That famine led to the deaths of a million people and caused 2 million to flee. The same variety of potato that was grown in Ireland was also grown in the U.S. with no crop failure.

The source of Ireland’s crop failure has been traced to a fertilizer used on both sides of the Atlantic. The difference was that fertilizer contained a fungus that thrived in the mild and moist climate of Ireland but did not in the hot, dry climate of Idaho and other potato growing areas of the U.S. That one small difference caused massive human tragedy.

A study of National Merit Scholarship finalists found that firstborn children were finalists far more often than their younger siblings. In the U.S. and other countries such as Britain and Germany, the firstborns’ IQs were higher than their siblings. Among medical students, a high proportion are firstborn.

Sowell asks that if equality of outcomes don’t exist among people with the same parents, raised in the same household, why would one expect equality of outcomes elsewhere?

Morally neutral factors such as crop failures, birth order, geographic setting, and demographic or cultural differences are among the reasons why economic and social outcomes fail to fit the preconceived notions of “experts.”

The bottom line about Sowell’s new book, “Discrimination and Disparities,” is that it contains a wealth of data and analysis that turns much of the thinking of politicians, academicians, legal experts, and judges into pure, unadulterated mush.



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