Friday, August 30, 2019

California's homeless crisis engulfs its capital as Sacramento's business owners tell how they confront naked junkies and streets covered in feces, urine and syringes - with no solution in sight

The visible results of Democrat "compassion".  Their loony ideas just create chaos

Carlisle is part of California's growing homeless emergency. The state has around 130,000 people without a roof over their heads. But she is not in downtown Los Angeles where Skid Row is a symbol of the national crisis or San Francisco where nearly one person in every hundred lives on the streets.

Instead, Carlisle and her fiancé Brian Workman are in Sacramento, the state capital, where homelessness has shot up by a shocking 19 per cent in the past two years, putting the problem squarely on the doorstep of Gavin Newsom, the state's Democratic governor.

Last week, salon owner Liz Novak brought the nation's attention to the problem when she announced to great fanfare that she was shutting up shop because she could not deal with the needles, the human waste, and the general aggravation that comes with having a business in the city.

'I just want to tell you what happens when I get to work. I have to clean up the poop and the pee off of my doorstep. I have to clean-up the syringes. I have to politely ask the people who I care for, I care for these people that are homeless, to move their tents out of the way of the door to my business,' she said in a video posted on Twitter, which gained the attention of Fox News and other national media outlets.

'I am angry about it. I wouldn't be relocating if it wasn't for this issue,' Novak added. 

Every few days, workers from the California Department of Transportation backed by Highway Patrol officers clean up under the freeways.

They post notices, giving three days' notice and announcing exactly when they are coming and they trash any unattended items.

Carlisle and Workman — and many others — merely move their possessions out from the limited protection the highway gives them from the elements to the corner of the street, which is city land.

Within a few minutes they move back again. 'It's a game of cat and mouse,' said Workman. 'But moving my stuff keeps me in shape. I'm in pretty good shape really.'

Highway Patrol Officer Caleb Howard, whose work includes backing up the CalTrans clean-up crew, said they rarely junk stuff that the homeless want.

'If they abandon it, they don't want it,' he told 'They know when we are coming.'

Over the last two years, the rate of homelessness  in Sacramento has risen by 19 per cent.

More than a tenth of that number, 688, were children, and 70 per cent were living without shelter. 

According to the US Interagency Council on Homelessness, California has the largest homeless population in the country, with 129,972 people living on the streets as of 2018.

The issue has long plagued Los Angeles, which has seen its homeless population rise by a staggering 75 per cent in the last six years.

A report released in June this year revealed there are 59,000 people living on the streets across Los Angeles County - a 12 per cent increase from 2018 - while the city has seen a 16 per cent rise with 36,300. 

By comparison, Sacramento, which has an estimated population of 1.5million, seems to have a significantly smaller homeless population, with 5,570, but the problem appears to be growing.

Many of Sacramento's homeless are expected to leave town in the next couple of months. 'They're migratory,' antique shop owner Steve Sylvester told 'When the weather gets cooler they'll head down toward San Diego.'

Sylvester's store is just across the street from Novak's salon. He has sympathy for his fellow business-owner but says he would never close up just because of the homeless.

'I understand it is more intimidating for her, she worked alone,' said Sylvester, a Londoner who has run his store in Sacramento for 20 years. But he recognizes the problem. 'We've had two major incidents in the past six weeks,' he said.

'We had a young man come in 95 per cent naked — he had underpants on but below where they mattered. I asked him to leave and he asked why. I said he was upsetting my customers and he wasn't really dressed for shopping.

'As he left, he held out his arm and wiped out a whole china dinner service, worth $300-$400. 'He was a drug addict. He didn't know what he was doing. He was on Planet Zog.'

In the second incident a man threw a rock through Sylvester's window at four in the morning. He clambered through the shattered plate glass, found his way to the outdoor area and fell asleep. That's where cops found him.

'The problem has gotten noticeably worse in the past 18 months because Sacramento is the place where people are told you can get a quick fix with cheap drugs,' said Sylvester.

'Sacramento is a wonderful place, great weather, with nice, accommodating people who give the homeless money, which unfortunately too often goes to drugs. This area has 30 or so restaurants so there is always food to be had.'

But he says there is another problem. 'I know homeless people are being given bus tickets here from both Davis and Reno because they are told Sacramento will look after them,' he said.

That allegation — that other cities give one-way tickets to Sacramento to get them out of town — is a common claim around town.

Officer Howard of the Highway Patrol told he knew of people getting tickets from Oregon.

City of Sacramento spokesman Tim Swanson said a Sacramento Bee article from 2013 found that Nevada was busing the homeless away from Las Vegas and one high-profile case had ended in Sacramento, but he did not address the specific allegations.

But he said a recent survey showed 93 per cent of Sacramento's homeless either grew up in the city or had lived there long-term before hitting the streets. 'This statistic contradicts the notion that people are coming to Sacramento specifically for services.'

Police officers and transportation authority employees remove homeless encampments under the freeway. Officer Howard says they rarely junk stuff that the homeless want

Swanson said the city has allocated $15.7million to sheltering the homes this year with another $1million for women, families, and children.

Last year, Mayor Darrell Steinberg asked each of the eight council members to identify a possible area for a shelter within their districts.

In four days that spent in Sacramento, not one homeless person was seen on Novak's property. But the problem is clearly real.

Across the street at Pancake Circus diner, 70-year-old waitress Terri — she would not give her last name or agree to be photographed — starts every working day at 4.15am 'cleaning up needles and poop and washing down urine,' and shooing the homeless from the property.

'They'll strip their clothes off. I often find them out front completely naked,' she said. 'Heroin is a huge problem, it's not just Oxycontin and other opioids, it's heroin.'

Terri says she tries not to call police. 'I'm not going to call if they are just panhandling, but if they are spitting at me or throwing their defecation, then that's different.'

She says she lets the homeless use the diner's bathroom — 'everyone should have that dignity.' 'But I tell them if you pick up what you have in your hand and smear it on the walls and I have to clean it off, then you're not coming in again.'



Why Bernie Sanders Is Wrong About Sweden

What is socialism? Some of its advocates have trouble defining the ideology. “Being a socialist means different things to different people,” a leftist podcast host told actress Cynthia Nixon last year. “For some, it is a Nordic-style welfare state. For others, it is the liquidation of the capitalist class and the democratization of the means of production.” The host asked a flustered Ms. Nixon, then a candidate for New York governor, where she came down.

“Being a socialist, um, I, I, I would say is—I am more in, I am more in line with the Nordic model myself,” she replied. When the alternatives are Cuba, China and Venezuela, everyone becomes “more in line” with Sweden, the classic Nordic example.

The ‘Nordic model’ of socialism, which he and other leftists tout, is more like ‘ruthless capitalism.’

Trouble is, most Swedes aren’t in line with American socialists like Ms. Nixon, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “All of their models that they could point to, given a couple of years, they end up in famine and killing,” Swedish author and historian Johan Norberg tells me. “So they always come back to Scandinavia in the end.” True, Sweden has a significant welfare state, but Mr. Norberg says it’s underpinned by “ruthless capitalism.”

Mr. Norberg studied the history of ideas at Stockholm University. After graduating he joined Timbro, a Stockholm-based free-market think tank, where he researched and wrote books about Swedish history and economics. An important lesson from his academic training: “Many of the great disasters that have befallen on us have come because people have changed their interpretation of the world economy.”

Ideas can produce prosperity too. By the mid-19th century Sweden had legalized emigration, he says, “which resulted in most people just wanting to leave Sweden immediately for the U.S.” Back then, Swedish politicians and intellectuals looked to America as a model. Between roughly 1840 and 1870, classical liberals took power. “They basically did everything: save property rights, open business, free trade, beginning to open up for religious freedom, freedom of the press.”

Sweden was one of the world’s fastest-growing economies for nearly a century. But by the 1960s, the country began to take its wealth-creating prowess for granted. I tell Mr. Norberg about New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s assertion: “There’s plenty of money in this world, it’s just in the wrong hands.” In 1960s Sweden, Mr. Norberg replies, “that’s almost verbatim what they said back then: ‘Now we’re this rich. Shouldn’t we just distribute it, and give it to the people and the places we like?’ ” Such thinking overtook the country’s dominant center-left Social Democratic Party.

“We thought we could do anything, and we had all of those other preconditions: the work ethic, some sort of social pressure, which meant that people were doing the right things, and they wouldn’t want to live on the dole,” Mr. Norberg says. “And then for 20 years, from 1960 to 1980, we doubled the size of the government spending as a percentage of GDP. That’s the aberration in Swedish history.” The Swedish welfare state first was a safety net for the needy. Over time the political class moved to “socialize the lives of the middle classes as well.” The plan: “Increase their taxes, and their benefits, and then they will buy into this system.”

The consequences were predictable. “It resulted in less work, people preferring to stay at home and paint the house rather than hiring someone to do it, general lack of getting the kind of education that matters. It led to entrepreneurs leaving Sweden.” Private sector employment declined from the 1970s to the ’90s, while disposable- income and economic growth was relatively slow. Some of the country’s best companies and brightest minds fled an onerous inheritance tax.

Plenty of economists knew Sweden needed reform, but undoing the damage would take years. A critical figure was Prime Minister Carl Bildt of the center-right Moderate Party. He came to power in 1991, as the rigid Swedish economy struggled to cope with an economic crisis. Mr. Norberg calls the former prime minister “an ideas politician” who understood free-market principles. Mr. Bildt’s coalition government cut capital-gains and corporate taxes, while the top marginal income- tax rate shrank to 50% from around 90%. Sweden deregulated the telecom and energy industries while introducing school vouchers and other market-oriented reforms. The Social Democrats retook the government in 1994, but the trend toward economic liberty continued for another quarter-century.

“One thing the left gets wrong is that they think that Sweden has this sort of warm, friendly, fuzzy capitalist thing—no layoffs, no fierce competition, protecting the old companies and so on. And it’s really the total opposite,” Mr. Norberg says. “It’s more deregulated. The product markets are much fiercer competition, much more free trade. All of the companies know that they have to be world champions or they will be destroyed.”

American leftists, even those who shy away from the “socialist” label, generally call for higher taxes on “the rich” to support an expanded welfare and entitlement state. That, too, misapprehends the Swedish example. “We have much higher taxes on the poor and the middle classes than you do,” Mr. Norberg says. “And this is the dirty little secret that no one in the American left wants to talk about.” Nonprogressive taxes on consumption, social security and payroll are 27% of Swedish gross domestic product, 16 points higher than in the U.S.

Assumptions about Swedish health care often are wrong too: “Lots of Americans think it’s a Medicare for All thing. But it’s not even a national system. It’s a regional system.” Largely funded by a flat tax, the system isn’t all government- run: “We had a problem with productivity and investment in the health-care sector. So now we have more freedom of choice and more competition in the provision of health care.” Whereas American Democrats aspire to abolish private insurance, “one of the biggest hospitals in Stockholm was privatized, and you can go to private providers. And the first line of health-care defense, in a way, is often private clinics.”

Mr. Norberg acknowledges there’s some truth to the socialist stereotype. Heavy labor-market regulations and powerful unions survived the socialist era and strain the economy. The country has no official minimum wage, but its de facto rate is high. “For a while, that looked good in Sweden, because it meant that all of the less productive companies were destroyed.” While this worked with “a homogenous workforce with very high education and experiences in the Swedish language,” large-scale, low-skill migration has upended the model. With a massive influx of Middle Eastern refugees in recent years, “Sweden is becoming a normal European country, in a way, with a big anti-immigrant party.” To keep the far-right Sweden Democrats out of power, the Social Democrats currently lead a broad coalition government. Mr. Norberg says that reducing taxes on the rich, deregulating the labor market and liberalizing housing are at the top of the agenda.

If Sweden fails as a socialist model, what about its Scandinavian neighbors? “Denmark is far from a socialist planned economy,” then-Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen said in response to unwelcome praise from Mr. Sanders in 2015. “Denmark is a market economy.” Not long after lunch with Mr. Norberg, I asked Finnish President Sauli Niinistö if he leads a socialist country. His answer: “No, God bless.” Norway is similar, and a major producer of fossil fuels to boot.

Mr. Norberg does think his country has lessons for America— but they’re free-market ones. Whereas U.S. entitlement spending is on a path of uncontrollable growth, “our politicians basically said, from the left to the right, this is not sustainable. Our social-security system will collapse if we don’t reform it,” he says. Americans who talk up the Swedish model “would have to reform social security, and change it from defined benefits to defined contributions. And reduce social-security pension payments when the economy is doing worse.”

He understands Americans’ disdain for politicians. “Obama was going to stop the oceans from rising, and then Trump is going to get the old jobs back, and ‘I alone can fix everything. The world’s a mess, but I can do it.’ That kind of sets you up for some disappointment in the end.” Yet he sees much to admire across the Atlantic: “No matter how far to the left you are, if things go wrong in Sweden, yeah, if you can find a second career in the U.S. and move there in some way, that’s where you want to go.”

A couple of days after our interview, Mr. Norberg emailed a warning for Americans: The most dangerous place to be is top of the world, think you have it all made and can afford to experiment with socialism or protectionism, because you have plenty of room for mistakes before you hurt yourself,” he wrote. “That’s where Sweden was in 1970. It almost destroyed us, and it took some heroic efforts to get back on track.”



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, August 29, 2019

How the Government Creates Wealth Inequality

There are economic storm clouds on the horizon, but for now wages are rising, jobs are plentiful, and poverty is falling. Democrats running for president need an economic line of attack, so the solution has been to focus on wealth inequality. Senator Bernie Sanders claims that there has been a “massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top one percent.” Senator Elizabeth Warren lambastes America’s “extreme concentration of wealth.” Even the establishment Joe Biden laments, “This wealth gap that exists in the United States of America is so profound now.”

Wealth inequality has risen in recent years, but by far less than the Democrats and many media articles imply. The scarier claims about inequality usually stem from the flawed data created by French economist Thomas Piketty and his colleagues. More careful studies by other economists and the Federal Reserve Board reveal surprisingly modest changes in wealth inequality given the huge revolutions in globalization and technology that have occurred.

Are increases in wealth inequality the awful thing that Democrats claim? It depends on what causes them. Much of the recent modest rise in wealth inequality stems from innovations in our economy that are pulling everyone up. Brian Acton and Jan Koum, for example, built huge multibillion dollar fortunes by creating WhatsApp, which provides free phone service for 1.5 billion users globally.

Acton and Koum’s success may have increased the wealth owned by the top 1 percent, but their product has created massive consumer value as well. Most of the wealthiest Americans are entrepreneurs who have fueled economic growth, which is clear in examining the Forbes 400 list. Wealth created this way is not the zero-sum struggle that Democrats imagine it is.

That is the good news. The bad news is that the government itself generates wealth inequality in at least two ways that make us worse off. First, governments give subsidies, regulatory preferences, and other crony-capitalist benefits to wealthy insiders. In the recent Fat Leonard scandal, for example, Leonard Francis gained hundreds of millions of dollars of government contracts by cozying up to Navy officers and providing them with gifts, prostitutes, and other favors to get them to do his bidding.

The other way that the government fuels wealth inequality is a deeper scandal. The expansion of social programs over the decades has undermined incentives for lower- and middle-income families to save while reducing their ability to save because of higher taxes. Government programs have displaced or “crowded out” wealth-building by all American families but the richest.

Politicians complain loudly about wealth inequality, but their own policies are generating it. This issue receives too little policy attention, but it is profoundly important and reveals the hypocrisy of the political left.

Many Americans have saved little for retirement because Social Security discourages them doing so, as does the heavy 12.4 percent wage tax that funds the program. Economist Martin Feldstein found that every dollar increase in Social Security benefits reduces private savings by about 50 cents.

Social Security accounts for a larger share of retirement income for the non-rich than for the rich, so this crowd-out effect increases wealth inequality. In a simulation model, Jagadeesh Gokhale and Laurence Kotlikoff estimated that Social Security raises the share of overall wealth held by the top 1 percent of wealth holders by about 80 percent. This occurs because the program leaves the non-rich with “proportionately less to save, less reason to save, and a larger share of their old-age resources in a nonbequeathable form.”

A study by Baris Kaymak and Markus Poschke built a model of the U.S. economy to estimate the causes of rising wealth inequality. They found that most of the rise in the top 1 percent share of wealth in recent decades was caused by technological changes and wage dispersion, but the expansion of Social Security and Medicare caused about one-quarter of the increase. They concluded that the “redistributive nature of transfer payments was instrumental in curbing wealth accumulation for income groups outside the top 10% and, consequently, amplified wealth concentration in the U.S.”

More government benefits result in less private wealth, especially for the non-rich. It is not just Social Security and Medicare that displaces private saving, but also unemployment insurance, welfare, and other social spending. Some social programs have “asset tests” that deliberately discourage saving.

Total federal and state social spending as a share of gross domestic product soared from 6.8 percent in 1970 to 14.3 percent in 2018. That increase in handouts occurred over the same period that wealth inequality appears to have increased. Generations of Americans have grown up assuming that the government will take care of them when they are sick, unemployed, and retired, so they put too little money aside for future expenses.

Cross-country studies support these conclusions. A 2015 study by Pirmin Fessler and Martin Schurz examined European data and found that “inequality of wealth is higher in countries with a relatively more developed welfare state . . . given an increase of welfare state expenditure, wealth inequality measured by standard relative inequality measures, such as the Gini coefficient, will increase.”

A study by Credit Suisse found: “Strong social security programs — good public pensions, free higher education or generous student loans, unemployment and health insurance — can greatly reduce the need for personal financial assets. . . . This is one explanation for the high level of wealth inequality we identify in Denmark, Norway and Sweden: the top groups continue to accumulate for business and investment purposes, while the middle and lower classes have a less pressing need for personal saving.”

That is why it is absurd for politicians such as Sanders and Warren to decry wealth inequality and then turn around and demand European-style expansions in our social programs. The bigger our welfare state, the more wealth inequality we will have.

The solution is to transition to savings-based social programs. Numerous countries have Social Security systems based on private savings accounts. Chile has unemployment-insurance savings accounts. Martin Feldstein proposed a savings-based approach to Medicare. The assets in such savings accounts would be inheritable, unlike the benefits from current U.S. social programs.

Sanders and Warren are right to criticize crony capitalism as a cause of wealth inequality. But their big government approaches to social policy would have the opposite effect on wealth inequality than what they may believe



Repudiating Globalism

It may be the most pressing and difficult problem facing the American people today.

When the stock market cratered in 2008, America’s ruling class bailed out Wall Street — and Europe — at the expense of Main Street. In 2016, Britain voted 52% to 48% to leave the EU. For the last three years, that vote has been ignored. Also in 2016, the American public decided they’d had enough of an increasingly unbearable status quo and put a political novice in the White House. That status quo was globalism, which remains the primary threat to the well-being of our nation.

In a highly insightful column, American Greatness editor Chris Buskirk illuminates what ordinary Americans are really up against, courtesy of transnational elitists who see countries, patriotism, and a significant portion of their fellow Americans as anachronistic, or beneath contempt. Globalists are “citizens of the world,” and if their profits and “principles” are served by hollowing out middle America, or accommodating the Chinese military while snubbing our own, so be it.

Buskirk explains the origins of their mindset. “All of us share a rich heritage that is under attack by a pernicious idea as old as human history,” he writes. “It is the idea with which the serpent tempted Eve, it is the idea that man can be his own god.”

He goes on to identify the chief characteristics of this megalomania. Globalism is an “advanced form of secular liberalism” that is “messianic” and “dehumanizing.” Those who challenge its supremacy? They are “shamed, deplatformed, ostracized, and often made unemployable,” he adds.

Yet the most revealing part of the globalism centers around its “materialist, man-centered nature.” Why? Because that nature makes globalist elites “overtly hostile to Biblical religion and the family, both of which represent competing power centers and must therefore be degraded or destroyed.”

Thus, “bitter clingers” who have the temerity to resist making cakes celebrating same-sex weddings must be sued — and sued again — even after the Supreme Court rules in favor of First Amendment religious protections. Public schools must embrace the transgender agenda, even at the kindergarten level, while teaching American students to hold their own nation in contempt. Alternative lifestyles, are promoted as being equal, if not superior, to the nuclear family, even as the nuclear family itself has been eviscerated by the Nanny State.

Moreover, the rise of another pernicious concept, “identity politics,” is no accident. Keeping the “peasants” distracted by race, gender, and sexual identity is designed to keep “the wage-earning classes, meaning, almost everyone — from focusing on the fact that real wages have stagnated for nearly 50 years while the price of the three largest expenditures in life (housing, education, and healthcare) have soared,” Buskirk explains.

The peasants’ primary supporter? The concerted effort by the globalist-run, Democrat Media Complex to convince the nation that President Donald Trump is a racist has been unrelenting. And because it hasn’t worked out quite as well as expected, he is now a “white supremacist” — a term not only applied to Trump but to everyone who voted for him. That leftists can say this despite the reality that many of those same voters opted for Barack Obama — twice — is indicative of the utter contempt they have for the average American’s ability to notice such monumental hypocrisy.

That contempt is driven by the globalist reduction of humanity itself to economic terms, whereby people become nothing more than interchangeable cogs in the globalist machinery. They also become expendable. Note the globalist antipathy toward Trump’s effort to reform an intellectual property-stealing and militarily belligerent China via tariffs, despite the reality that its government stands on the verge of crushing populist dissent in Hong Kong. Globalists are no doubt concerned — but only with the economic implications.

Make that economic implications directly related to their own interests. By stark contrast, columnist Pat Buchanan reveals what three decades of globalism have wrought economically for ordinary Americans: “$12 trillion in trade deficits and a loss of 70,000 factories and 5 million manufacturing jobs.”

Social costs have been egregious as well: “more divorces, more consumer debt, more children raising themselves because their mother is forced to work outside the home to make ends meet, and a declining fertility rate,” Buskirk explains. “Across Europe and the United States, citizens are not having enough children to replace themselves.”

The globalist “solution” to decreasing domestic populations? Rather than incentivize child-bearing, globalists embrace unfettered immigration, both legal and illegal. Anyone who disagrees is “bigoted” and “xenophobic.” Ironically, the same globalists talk about the ascension of job-killing artificial intelligence, and yet again the “solution” they propose for that problem isn’t limiting immigration. It’s Universal Basic Income, absent any concern for the dignity-sapping implications it engenders.

After all, what “interchangeable cog” wouldn’t be content with “free money?”

Buskirk believes the time is ripe for a wholesale assault on the status quo, and the keys are reviving the institutions that used to form the bedrock of the nation. They include family, religion and real life friends as opposed to the orchestrated diminishment of friendship wrought by social media. He also proposes the abolition of post-war globalist institutions that were founded by the United States but “have become destructive and actually undermine the peace and prosperity of the American nation and degrade human life here and abroad.” It’s hard to argue with the two examples he cites, namely the United Nations and the European Union.

His boldest proposal? Breaking the two-income family “trap” by proposing a “‘Family Deal’ that will reorder the American economy in a way that allows a family of five or six to be solidly middle class on a single income and that emphasizes growth through innovation rather than financialization,” he asserts.

These are excellent ideas, but the bet here is none them are attainable until we recognize one of the most serious problems this nation has ever faced: We now have at least two generations of Americans who are virtually unable to make the distinction between real life and cyberspace — or at the very least, willing to give both an equal measure of importance.

As result of this unprecedented development, a metastatic level of social dysfunction has taken hold, manifesting itself as “look at me” narcissism, pathological “copy-cat-ism,” and sexually debilitating isolationism, even as the tech companies engage in what Buskirk defines as “surveillance capitalism” that for all intents and purposes keeps people in line in a way that makes George Orwell’s 1984 seem benign by comparison.

In short, this nation must address what the tech elitist-driven wholesale destruction of privacy is really doing to the human psyche, no matter how many dopamine-inducing “likes” ultimately end up on the ash heap of history. Restricting the access of social media to those over the age of 18, much like we restrict access to alcohol, is a great way to begin. More important, a law restricting the tech titans from accessing a minor’s data, much like Google currently does with impunity in America’s classrooms, should also be enacted.

In short, globalism is totalitarianism with better PR. If America is to remain a sovereign nation it must be thoroughly repudiated.



Transforming America
The left is not shy when it comes to telling us what it thinks about America. From Hillary’s “basket of deplorables” to progressive declarations that the country was founded on racism and genocide, it’s clear that the left just doesn’t like America all that much.

Make no mistake about it, my friends. The radical left wants to completely remake America.

It has already made it clear that if it doesn’t get the outcomes it wants from the Supreme Court, it will fundamentally transform the court. Another way the left aims to transform the country is by getting rid of the Electoral College.

Earlier this week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez denounced the Electoral College as “a scam.” Just to be clear, the Electoral College is part of the Constitution and the Constitution is not “a scam.” What else in the Constitution does she consider to be “a scam”?

AOC argued that our system should be “one man one vote.” That is a pure democracy and our system is a constitutional republic. She also said that we should get rid of the Electoral College because it gives too much power to “white voters over voters of color.”

Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa responded by tweeting: "Actually @AOC, eliminating the Electoral College would silence our voices here in Iowa and in many other states across the country. This is just more evidence of how out of touch the Democrats have become."

Sen. Ernst is right.

As you may know, there is an effort underway to nullify the Electoral College by getting states to award their electors based on the national popular vote, rather than the state’s results. But the Democrat governor of Nevada infuriated the left recently when he vetoed a bill to join this movement. “In cases like this, where Nevada’s interests could diverge from the interests of large states, I will always stand up for Nevada,” Gov. Sisolak said.

The original purpose of the Electoral College was to provide a check against the “tyranny of the majority” and to ensure that the smaller, more rural states were not dominated by the interests of big cities in national elections. It was one of many great compromises that formed our nation.

At the time, most of those concerns were economic. Today there are still economic differences between the states but there is also a growing ideological divide.

The left wants the secular, progressive populations of big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, and Miami to dominate the rest of the country. It wants big cities to decide national elections in order to use the power of the federal government to force the rest of America to live under the values that prevail in the urban centers.

As you also know, the left does not believe in states’ rights. Many of the divisions in the country today could be tolerated if the left was willing to allow the people of Tennessee to have prayer in school even if the people of New York did not want it.

But the left won’t do that. Progressives preach tolerance, but have none for conservative values. They will not allow conservatives to live their values anywhere in the entire country. The radical left wants to force the people who live in 80% of the country to kneel before those who live in the other 20%. This growing intolerance for tens of millions of citizens is not progress. It is a prescription for disaster.

Remaking History

Have you heard about the 1619 Project from The New York Times? It is claiming that the country began in 1619 with the first slave ships and thus the country was evil from the beginning.

Newt Gingrich, Rich Lowry, and others are taking it on. And, of course, the critics are being smeared as racists.

This left-wing deconstruction of history is very dangerous. There is no perfect country. But as Tucker Carlson recently noted, no nation can be fairly governed by people who hate it.



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, August 28, 2019

Business Roundtable amputates the Invisible Hand

Martin Hutchinson

The Business Roundtable last week produced a 400-page publication claiming that its members should no longer look first to profitability but should follow the interests of stakeholders as a whole, including employees and the environment. This is pabulum we are used to from the titans of Big Business, who are no longer truly capitalist in our distorted low-interest-rate economy. The problem is, that by downplaying the central tenet of capitalism, they may, like the acolytes of central planning, produce hugely sub-optimal economic results.

Adam Smith put best the central truth of capitalism, several times in both “The Wealth of Nations” and “The Theory of Moral Sentiments,” to be an “invisible hand” of the market promoting optimal results. For example: “Every individual… neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it… he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”

Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” of the market is immensely powerful, operating wherever it is permitted to operate. Even in situations where the market forms only a small part of the overall supply/demand picture, it operates to reduce costs, match prices and expand its coverage as far as circumstances allow. Thus, for example the short-term health plans whose expansion was authorized by President Trump last year, being cheaper than plans bought over the Obamacare exchanges, have expanded their usage far more than was expected. Similarly, the new permission to buy a limited range of drugs from foreign suppliers has reduced drug prices overall, as even a limited free market exerts a salutary effect on neighboring products.

You can see the effects of the free market outside healthcare also. In education, charter schools typically improve the education of children in poor areas, as the local public schools are forced to eliminate unionized sloth and match the offerings of their new competitors. Conversely, authorized private sector monopolies, such as local cable TV systems, have seen their prices increase far more rapidly than other services while their service quality has deteriorated – to the extent that new offerings such as satellite TV and streaming services have eaten at their market share even though with cable already laid they should be far more competitive than oustsiders.

The market only optimizes economic outcomes, however, if participants are economically motivated. You see this from economic outcomes in places where the primary motivation of producers, consumers and governments is non-economic. For example, much of the Middle East is held back by participants placing religious affiliation above the market mechanism. Similarly, many African countries are divided by tribal loyalties, which prevent markets from optimizing within them. Similar considerations must lead us to believe that elevating non-economic considerations above profit maximization will prevent the market mechanism from performing its proper optimization function, leading to outcomes that may be highly suboptimal.

To compete effectively in a modern economy, a corporation must satisfy many of the non-economic criteria that the Business Roundtable elevates above shareholders. Product quality and safety are essentials if it is to remain in business. Employees must be treated decently, or the corporation will not be able to attract good people who serve the customer well.

Environmental considerations must be taken into account, for three reasons: the law requires it, there is often a huge reputational cost from environmental bad behavior, and long-term return maximization requires the company to avoid short-termist exploitation of all kinds. There is reputational and political risk to alienating communities in which the company operates; it also brings long-term costs in that local disgruntlement may make the company’s adaptation to new circumstances unnecessarily difficult.

Every non-market constraint that companies impose upon themselves, or that is imposed upon them, makes their part of the economy less optimal, not only for shareholders but for everybody doing business with them.

For example, President Trump is currently in a battle with the automobile companies, who have happily accepted California’s draconian fuel economy standards, ignoring the looser standards available under Trump’s administration in the other 49 states. From the American automobile buyer’s view, as well as that of the automobile companies’ shareholders, Trump is absolutely right; the unnecessarily harsh standards imposed by the Sacramento soft-brains add about $3,000 to the price of each car, as well as making the cars less safe and worse-performing. When the costs of government are added up, that $3,000 per automobile, entirely without electoral mandate outside California, must be added to them; deviations from pure market principles are frighteningly expensive.

Another government interference with the market that makes its results suboptimal is the Basel system of risk weightings for bank assets. Under that system, devised under the auspices of the the Bank for International Settlements, owned by the world’s governments, government debt of OECD countries is given a zero risk-weighting for capital allocation purposes, while mortgage debts are given a reduced capital weighting compared with ordinary loans.

The result has been that governments, even over-borrowed ones like Italy and Japan, are able to borrow altogether too easily, since their paper requires no capital allocation. Conversely small businesses, lending to which should be one of the two principal businesses of commercial banks (the other being providing a safe, modestly lucrative home for depositors’ money) get very little of the banks’ lending capacity. The cost to the global economy of this vast misallocation of resources has been astronomical, both in overspending governments and in small businesses starved of capital. New competitors in the venture capital industry have emerged for business finance, but they are very expensive, and themselves have several cognitive weaknesses such as an absurd over-reverence for the tech sector.

As discussed in this column, the greatest loss of economic value from ignoring market realities has come from government interest rate policies of the past 24 years, and most particularly since 2008. These have set the real risk-free return on capital below zero for over a decade in most rich countries. Capitalism cannot be expected to work properly without a positive return on capital, and it accordingly hasn’t worked properly for the last decade. The result has been a bidding up of asset prices to insane levels, a debt market that has come to ignore risk completely (so that in Europe there are “junk” bond issues being done at sub-zero nominal interest rates) and a productivity growth malaise in rich countries that has academics bemoaning the end of the Industrial Revolution.

Today there are vast enterprises like Uber (NYSE:UBER), with a capitalization of $60 billion, that lose $1 billion a quarter and achieve even that level of return only by taking advantage of the inability of “gig” economy workers to account properly for the depreciation on their vehicles. Uber is a product of a capital market that has its central price, the long-term risk-free rate of interest, set by dozy self-serving governments rather than by the supply and demand for a money limited in amount either by a well-run central bank or by a Gold Standard.

It is very unlikely that the Business Roundtable’s 400-page tome will do as much damage as the Fed and its sister central banks; for one thing nobody takes that body particularly seriously. It is an agglomeration of very large companies, and very large companies, even at the best of times, are not especially capitalist institutions, as Adam Smith observed 240 years ago. In the past decade, the Business Roundtable companies have been especially profitable, but as Smith gloomily observed “Profitability is always highest, in the countries which are going fastest to ruin.”

It is a sobering thought. Meanwhile the Business Roundtable has joined the Fed, the Basel bank regulators, and the automobile fuel economy standards setters, in attempting to run a capitalist system without allowing the market free rein. Essentially, they are attempting to amputate the market’s Invisible Hand, and no good will come of it.



What conservatives fight for: Trump gets it
One of the left’s big themes is that the president and his supporters are racists. If you need any more evidence, check out the latest column by Byron York detailing how the New York Times is shifting its coverage of the president from Russia to racism.

Trump addressed this absurd claim during his New Hampshire rally Thursday night. Here’s what he said:

Our movement is built on love… We love our family. We love our faith. We love our flag and we love our freedom, and that’s what it’s about… We love our neighbors and we love our country.

It is a beautiful quote, and, of course, it is true. Without any doubt, I know all of you reading this would agree with those words. And he has said it before.

Whether the president intended it or not, it is also a great description of what the culture war is all about and why it is raging with such intensity. This is a fight over the very meaning of America.

Notice there is not a word in the president’s statement that refers to race or ethnic background. The president’s supporters come from every ethnic group. Native-born American, immigrants, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, etc.

We love our families. That has been a huge battleground over the last 20 years. The courts forced a radical redefinition of marriage and family. And I believe the reaction to that decision led more Christians than ever before to vote for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton.

We love our faith. For decades, the left has been chipping away at religious liberty. Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court was forced to rule on a case brought by some who wanted to tear down a war memorial because it was a cross. We won that case, but imagine how it would have gone if Trump had not nominated the last two justices. In an era of rising anti-Semitism and militant secularism, those who cherish Judeo-Christian values must stand firm.

We love our flag. Of course we do. Sadly not everybody does. The left has been associated with flag burning for decades. (Have you ever seen a conservative demonstration try to make its point by burning the flag?) Some liberal politicians want to drop the Pledge of Allegiance. When Colin Kaepernick disrespected the flag and national anthem, the left defended him.

We love our freedom. Virtually every freedom guaranteed to us in the constitution is under attack by the left. Freedom of speech is under attack on university campuses and online by big tech. The freedom to defend yourself with a firearm and religious freedom are under attack. Economic freedom is under assault by socialists.

It is very revealing that any time the president or any conservative defends these things, the left tries to define our defense as some form of “bigotry” or as somehow racially motivated. Progressives know they are very vulnerable on these issues. And so the only way they can win the debate is to shut it down by linking these values to hatred.

So when the president takes on Colin Kaepernick over the flag, virtually no one on the left says, “The flag doesn’t deserve to be honored.” Instead, they say, “Look at Trump attacking a black man.”

And that brings us to the election.

Much of the Republican establishment believes that the president must make his campaign all about the economy and our economic success. That is a powerful argument for his reelection. Historically, presidents who preside over strong economies win elections, while presidents who preside over weak economies lose.

But tell that to Mitt Romney.

Barack Obama presided over a weak economy and all that Romney talked about was the economy. He ran from cultural values issues like a cat with its tail on fire.

James Dobson and I met with him privately and urged him to stand up for and defend Chick-fil-A. He wouldn’t even do that.

Meanwhile, Obama constantly signaled his position on left-wing cultural issues. Law enforcement is racist. America isn’t exceptional. We owe the world an apology. While all that was jarring to us, it rallied young, progressive voters, which polling shows have some of the lowest patriotic impulses in history.

Thankfully, I have no doubt that Donald Trump understands all this.

Yes, he will trumpet great employment figures, a booming energy industry, rising wages, etc. But he also knows that man does not live by bread alone. He knows that faith and family, God and country are more than just buzzwords and slogans.

I am convinced that no future Republican presidential candidate will be able to win the White House unless they are willing to speak boldly for the silent majority of Americans who embrace the president’s words about faith, family, and freedom.



Trump's Promise of deregulation

John Stossel
President Donald Trump promised he’d get rid of bad rules. “Remove the anchor dragging us down!” he said when campaigning for president. “We’re going to cancel every needless job-killing regulation!”

Trump was a developer, so he knew that the thicket of rules government imposes often makes it impossible to get things done.

But would he keep his deregulation promise? I was skeptical. Republicans often talk deregulation but then add rules. People called President George W. Bush an “anti-regulator.” But once he was president, he hired 90,000 new regulators!

Trump has been different.  When he took office, he hired regulation skeptics. He told government agencies: Get rid of two regulations for every new one you add.

I think his anti-regulation attitude is why stock prices rose and unemployment dropped. Trump sent a message to business: Government will no longer try to crush you. Businesses then started hiring.

Of course, the media wasn’t happy. Reporters love regulation. They call Trump’s moves “an attack on the environment” and on “workers’ health.” The New York Times ran the headline “Donald Trump Is Trying to Kill You!”

What the media don’t get is that regulations have unintended side effects that often outweigh the good they’re intended to do. Cars built smaller to comply with President Obama’s rules that require doubling of gas mileage cause increased deaths because smaller cars provide less protection.

“Should the government tell you what kind of car to buy?” asks Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform in my new video about Trump.

Norquist says that Trump has largely kept his deregulation promise, and that’s been great for America. For example, Trump repealed the Obama-era plan to classify franchise businesses like McDonald’s as one single business. Why?

“The trial lawyers want to be able to sue all of McDonald’s, not just the local McDonald’s, if they spill coffee on themselves,” says Norquist. “And the labor unions want to unionize all McDonald’s, not just the one store. That would have been a disaster.”

Trump’s FCC repealed Obama’s “net neutrality” rule, which would have limited internet providers’ freedom to charge different prices.

Democrats and other regulation-lovers predicted repeal would mean that rich people would dominate the internet. Bernie Sanders even tweeted that repeal would mean “the end of the internet as we know it.”

Of course, none of those things happened. Or as Norquist puts it: “None of it! None of it!”

But some Obama regulations sounded so important. Norquist laughs at that. “The names for these regulations are written by regulators. They’re advertisements for themselves.”

Of course, unlike advertisers, regulators don’t list side effects of their rules, which Norquist says should read: “May cause unemployment, may reduce wages, may raise the cost of energy, may make your car not drivable.”

Trump’s deregulation record would be better were he not so eager to add regulations, such as tariffs, at the same time. “There is a challenge. Trump is a protectionist in many ways,” says Norquist, sadly. “Tariffs are taxes, and regulations on the border are regulations on consumers.”

So are Trump’s “buy American” rules. “That sounds like a good idea, but it’s a dumb idea, and I wish he hadn’t done it,” says Norquist. “That is not deregulation. The good news is that the vast majority of the acts have been deregulatory and tremendously helpful.”

Recently, Trump announced, “We have cut 22 regulations for every new regulation!” He exaggerated, as he often does. The real number is about five. But that’s still pretty good. Better than Ronald Reagan did.

I wish Trump would do more. I wish he’d remove his tariffs and agricultural subsidies and kill the Export-Import Bank, drug prohibition and the onerous rules that encourage illegal immigration by making it almost impossible for foreigners to work here legally.

Keep your promise, President Trump! Repeal 22 regulations for every new one!

Nevertheless, so far, mostly good. Every excessive rule repealed is a step in the right direction: toward freedom.



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

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

China is not budging so Trump is moving close to a trade war

The Chinese do not seem rational actors. They should be doing their best to cooperate with their biggest customer. I fear that "face" may have come into play.  Loss of "face" (humiliation) is very grievous in China

President Donald Trump stepped up the pressure on China last week by leveling sanctions against Beijing for its role in shipping tons of fentanyl to the U.S. that has killed more Americans than the Lusitania and Sept. 11, 2001 combined, plus a new round of tariffs to keep the pressure on Beijing to come to the table on trade.

To top it all off, Trump threatened broader economic sanctions on China and urged U.S. companies to leave, citing authority under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to block transactions upon declaration of an emergency.

“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 23, to the shock of the Washington, D.C. establishment. Trump later clarified he was talking about imposing sanctions on China, “For all of the Fake News Reporters that don’t have a clue as to what the law is relative to Presidential powers, China, etc., try looking at the Emergency Economic Powers Act of 1977.”

It marks a steep escalation in the dispute with China, and with these powers, the President can prohibit “any transactions in foreign exchange,” “transfers of credit or payments,” “the importing or exporting of currency or securities,” and “any acquisition, holding, withholding, use, transfer, withdrawal, transportation, importation or exportation of, or dealing in, or exercising any right, power, or privilege with respect to, or transactions involving, any property in which any foreign country or a national thereof has any interest by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.”

With that, Trump could cut off all commerce with China with the stroke of a pen or bar it from treasuries markets. And yes, he can do that. Congress has the power under Article I to regulate foreign commerce and to enact laws deemed necessary and proper to bring them into execution, which is precisely what Trump is doing here. Similar sanctions are used against countries like Iran and North Korea.

On China’s opium war with the U.S., almost 29,000 Americans were killed by fentanyl overdoses in 2017 alone. That is up from 3,000 deaths in 2013, and a good chunk of that is coming from China. Now, President Trump is taking decisive action with the latest round of sanctions.

According to a White House press release, “the Department of the Treasury announced it is identifying two Chinese nationals and a China-based Drug Trafficking Organization as significant foreign narcotics traffickers pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act) and designated one associate and a China-based entity for being owned or controlled by one of the Chinese nationals.”

On Twitter on Aug. 23, Trump urged UPS, Fedex and the U.S. Postal Service to do its part in enforcing the sanctions: “I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE… all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!)... President Xi said this would stop - it didn’t.”

China responded to the sanctions tit for tat by leveling another $75 billion of tariffs on U.S. goods that otherwise appeared unprompted after President Trump had postponed the latest 10 percent round of tariffs on the remaining $300 billion of goods until December. The U.S. already has 25 percent tariffs on $250 billion of goods.

With China’s new tariffs, Trump immediately raised the American tariffs to 30 percent on the $250 billion of Chinese goods starting on Oct. 1, and up to 15 percent on the $300 billion of goods, which are no longer delayed and will go into effect on Sept. 1.

Trump wrote on Twitter announcing the move, “For many years China (and many other countries) has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade, Intellectual Property Theft, and much more. Our Country has been losing HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year to China, with no end in sight… Sadly, past Administrations have allowed China to get so far ahead of Fair and Balanced Trade that it has become a great burden to the American Taxpayer. As President, I can no longer allow this to happen!”

Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning praised the move in a statement, saying, “Chinese and U.S. negotiators are scheduled to meet next week and President Trump will be meeting with other leaders at the G7 about China. Hopefully they will find a basic common ground that accomplishes three things: ending China's opium war against the U.S. using fentanyl, protecting intellectual property and ending competitive currency devaluations by China. In the past, Chinese and U.S. negotiators have agreed on all three of these points. Let's hope Beijing will finally sign off so the world can begin to embrace fair and reciprocal free trade and the scourge of fentanyl can be shelved forever, saving tens of thousands American lives every year.”

It’s about time.

The difference between Trump and his predecessors is that he actually fighting, which is what he promised to do in 2016. Getting tough with China has meant addressing the North Korean nuclear threat, arming Taiwan and Trump has also spoken out in solidarity with the people of Hong Kong who are marching for their freedom. In the meantime, Trump is seeking out alternatives to China, for example, with a new trade deal with Japan just announced at the G7 in France on Aug. 25.

Dialogue, of course, is preferred. Chinese officials keep saying that too but they also don’t appear to keep any of their promises when they are made. This is all coming to a head, and right now, Beijing appears more interested in inflicting damage on the U.S. economy than talking ahead of the 2020 election in the hopes the American people elect a more acquiescent candidate. We’ll see, but history teaches it’s usually not a good idea to bet against America.

The strategy appears to be to back Trump into a corner, who has responded by coming out with guns blazing. Whatever he intended to accomplish vis a vis trade, China and globalization, this is Trump’s moment and he intends to see it through.

And it could have a lasting impact. With these new sanctions, the likelihood is that Trump has already permanently shifted America’s footing to take a harder line on China, a policy his successor whether in 2021 or 2024 will be compelled to continue. For better or for worse, that is Trump’s legacy.



Bernie and the Democrats: How Anger Makes You Stupid

In case you missed it, or are exclusively a reader of the New York Times, late last week Bernie Sanders tweeted this nugget: "Fossil fuel executives should be criminally prosecuted for the destruction they have knowingly caused."

No, that wasn't The Onion or The Babylon Bee. It was the real deal. The always-furious Vermont senator wants to incarcerate the very people who are responsible for keeping the lights on and the air conditioners running in the operating rooms of almost every hospital, not only in America but across the globe. And that's just the beginning of the myriad necessities of human life provided for at this point in human history by these supposed criminals in the eyes of the self-described democratic socialist of the multiple houses and private jets.

Crazy, no? Crazy, yes. Crazier than the proverbial hoot owl. And mighty angry.

Was Bernie always this way? More or less. When I saw him speak in Des Moines during his first go-round as a presidential candidate, I thought I had been teleported back to 1912 and was listening to Eugene V. Debs, who ran for U.S. president as a socialist five times, vilifying capitalism at every turn. Only Debs had the excuse of spewing his destructive nonsense before Stalin and Mao murdered or starved to death tens of millions of their own people

Not that any of this disturbed Bernie, who, as is well known, celebrated his marriage in the Soviet Union, a land he clearly preferred to the USA. The problem with all this is that Sanders remains popular with student and millennial audiences that are, given the nature of our educational system, primed to be loyal citizens of a future Animal Farm, in fact already are.

Sanders is the grandfather of the social justice warriors and the violent Antifa freaks in their KKK look-alike masks. In a sense, he is a kind of child molester, more dangerous in his own way than even Jeffrey Epstein. As last year's news, however, he is losing ground these days to Elizabeth Warren, who claims to be sort of a capitalist but not really (just as she claimed to be sort of an Indian but not really). So Bernie's even more angry, hectoring us more than usual. But Liz is little better, try as she might to play-act the beer-drinking one of the boys and girls who dances the hully-gully or whatever it was she was doing. It didn't look like fun.

They're not alone. The entire Democratic field appears to be an angry man/woman's club. No happy warriors there. When Joe Biden makes one of his many gaffes, he's almost always inveighing against Trump when he does it, as in the classic "We choose truth over facts." It can be said that anger makes you senile — or increases senility.

Trump is also guilty of outbursts of anger leading to misstatements, but the president is finally a happy warrior. He has humor, as opposed to the Democrats, a glum lot indeed. Donald looks as if he is enjoying himself, at least most of the time.

He also seems to be constantly trying to do things to improve the situation. The Democrats just make pronouncements. In competition with each other, they back programs that no one could possibly believe would ever happen. Anger at Trump and the world seem to be the motivation for most of these ideas. Practical solutions to actual problems go aborning. In fact, they are completely beside the point. Only posturing prevails. But that's what happens when anger is your best, and seemingly only, friend.



What the grievance brigade misunderstands about America

The ongoing crusade against America’s civic rituals and founding values picked up pace this summer.

The city council of St. Louis Park, Minn., stopped reciting the Pledge of Allegiance before its meetings, lest immigrants feel “uncomfortable.” Nike junked a commemorative Fourth of July shoe with an embroidered Revolutionary War flag on its heel because the flag could “offend and detract” from the national holiday. The Charlottesville, Va., city council scrapped the city holiday celebrating Thomas Jefferson’s birthday. The San Francisco School Board voted to cover up a mural of George Washington. Colorado State University recommended against using “America” or “American” to refer to the United States and its citizens since those words “erase” other cultures in the Western hemisphere.

Previously, monuments to American history have been shrouded, vandalized and removed; patriotic ceremonies have been cancelled or renamed. A former San Francisco school board president, now a city supervisor, encouraged schools honoring Washington, James Monroe, Jefferson, and Francis Scott Key to rechristen themselves, because those historical figures “are not relevant or meaningful or inspire pride.” A statue of Abraham Lincoln at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has been targeted repeatedly for removal because, as one protester from an indigenous student group explained: “Let’s be real. He owned slaves . . .and ordered the execution of Native men.”

These erasures are done in the name of fighting patriarchy, racism, genocide and colonialism. At the next outbreak of iconoclastic zeal, two questions should be posed to the purifiers:

Compared to what?

There is hardly a single world culture that has not aspired to domination of the “Other,” often achieving a level of subjugation surpassing anything accomplished by the United States. Slavery has been almost universal throughout much of human history, practiced by the Ottoman Empire, the People’s Republic of China, the Chinese dynasties, Native Americans, the Aztecs, and the Mayans, among other tribes and nations.

Brutal indentured servitude can still be found in the Middle East and Africa. Recent civil wars in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo used rape as an instrument of war; young girls were abducted for sex slavery. Islamists in Sudan have engaged in torture, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing. Hutus in Rwanda massacred hundreds of thousands of Tutsis in 1994; the blood bath continued within refugee camps. The Khmer Rouge, Idi Amin, and Robert Mugabe crushed human rights. Japan colonized Korea. According to historian William Osborn, Native Americans committed wartime atrocities – deliberate murder and mutilation – against over 9,000 civilians and prisoners during three centuries of conflict with European settlers; the European settlers committed two thousand fewer such atrocities. Females continue to be treated as chattel in large swathes of the Middle East and Africa. Blackface remains a popular staple of entertainment throughout the Arab world.

Whose values are you vindicating?

The campaign against American history is based on values derived from the very Western tradition that the academic and political Left currently reviles. The movement to abolish slavery arose in the West; it employed principles of equality and individual rights unique to European political theory. That the United States was willing for so many decades to tolerate slavery’s grotesque violation of the country’s founding ideals is a stain on our history. But those ideals did belatedly win out, and they continue to inspire movements for freedom the world over.

The academic and progressive Left preposterously regard the Enlightenment as the source of the world’s racism. If the Left succeeded in routing Enlightenment ideas, it would have nothing with which to fight the hatred and contempt for the “Other” that has characterized tribal relations from the start of human history.

Martin Luther King, Jr., understood how precious America’s Enlightenment ideals were, even if the country betrayed them for so long. “When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir,” the Reverend King said from the Lincoln Memorial in 1963. “This note was a promise that all men—yes, black men as well as white men—would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” No member of the intersectional grievance brigades would grant such legitimacy and honor to our founding documents today; the authors of those documents are being unceremoniously thrown on the dust heap.

The anti-American crusaders’ woeful ignorance of the past goes beyond thinking that Abraham Lincoln owned slaves; that ignorance extends to the present world as well. They have a brittle intolerance of human frailty and of the messiness and complexity of social change. America’s founders made compromises with their own ideals that today we may regard as egregious and unacceptable. But humans are never perfect; history is a record of moral failures as well as triumphs. We learn as much from the former as from the latter; erasing history is simply a power play and an act of sullen revenge.

The saddest part of the current rage against the American past is that after the monuments have been removed, the paintings effaced and the nationalistic words banished, nothing will have changed in the status of the self-proclaimed intersectional victims. The academic achievement gap will be intact. The greatest barriers to racial equality today are not statues and patriotic holidays; they are family breakdown and a street culture that regards academic effort and achievement as “acting white.” The time spent spray-painting statuary could be far better spent in the library acquiring knowledge and mastering skills.



Immigrants should not be on welfare

President Trump is getting hit by the left for his latest immigration reform proposal. Under the new plan, immigrants who come to the United States and receive welfare benefits could be denied green cards or visas. His opponents wasted no time labeling this policy racist, of course, contrary to the words of Emma Lazarus on the steps of the Statue of Liberty to “give us your poor, huddled masses,” and a fundamental change from the traditional immigration policies that we have in the United States.

Actually, no. All of those objections are wrong. Indeed, Trump is right. For 200 years, immigrants have been coming to the United States ‎without receiving welfare. In fact, they could be denied entry if immigration officials believed they would become a “public charge.” They had to be economically self-sufficient. Wave after wave of those born abroad have done magnificently well by becoming self-sufficient when they came here, even if they had nothing. The story has been told millions of times over, from Intel chairman Andrew Grove to NBA superstar Joel Embiid.

Most every economic analysis finds that legal immigrants are net contributors to the economy. Not all immigrants are beneficial and, sure, there are bad apples in the bunch. But the benefits of immigration are surprisingly large, mostly because most immigrants are risk takers who come to the United States between the ages of 16 and 40, so they tend to be at the start of their working years or at the peak of their earning years.

The net benefits to American citizens in terms of growing the economy and paying taxes is in the trillions of dollars over the next 40 years, when you include Social Security payments. Skilled immigrants provide the highest benefits. Trump is correct in proposing that we should change the selection process to a merit policy along the lines of what has been adopted in Canada and Australia. This would ensure that we get the best, brightest, and hardest working, regardless of race, origin, or ethnicity.

Most importantly, there should be no welfare benefits for immigrants until they become citizens. That is the deal. To the immigrants, we say, “We will give you the greatest asset in the world, a United States passport allowing you to share in our freedoms and our wonderland of opportunity, but you cannot receive taxpayer welfare benefits. You and your sponsors are responsible for your well being. If an immigrant falls on tough times, then family members, employers, or other sponsors should be held responsible to help them get their feet back on the ground, not the government.”

With entitlement spending exploding and trillions of dollars of future deficits in these programs, we cannot afford to allow foreigners to come to America to collect our generous benefits. ‎We have strong evidence that welfare has the same debilitating dependency effects on ‎immigrants as it does on the native born. It saps them of their economic drive, which is the very attribute that makes immigrants such valuable assets in the first place. For example, Texas has historically offered fewer welfare benefits than California, and it is no surprise that immigrants in California are more likely to be collecting government aid than those in Texas.

Most immigrants do not abuse our welfare system, and government handouts are not the magnet. But too often immigrants come here and the social service agencies sign them up for Medicaid, food stamps, and other assistance. Democrats even argued during the Obama years that putting people on food stamps was a stimulus to local communities.

My suspicion is that if immigrants knew that the deal for the privilege of being admitted to this country and becoming an American is no welfare, there would be no shortage of takers. If freedom and opportunity are not enough of a magnet, then those who would refuse to come under these new conditions probably are not the ones we need anyway.



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, August 26, 2019

Aristotle’s Defense of Private Property

Throughout history, numerous thinkers have robustly defended and justified the institution of private property: Cicero of ancient Rome, Thomas Aquinas of medieval Europe, and John Locke of the early modern period. The first extensive defense of private property comes from Aristotle in the fourth century B.C., and he believed there were more reasons than efficiency alone to endorse it.

Who was Aristotle?

Aristotle was a polymath who wrote extensively on ethics, logic, metaphysics, biology, astronomy, rhetoric, and more. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas referred to Aristotle as “The Philosopher,” demonstrating the level of respect Aristotle commanded. To this day, he is considered one of the most influential philosophers to ever live.

On the subject of private ownership, Aristotle believed external goods — such as property and wealth — could help people live a virtuous life. Unlike his teacher, Plato, who recommended strict limits on wealth, Aristotle argued that “happiness also requires external goods in addition, as we said; for it is impossible, or at least not easy, to play a noble part unless furnished with the necessary equipment.” This view is the foundation of Aristotle’s positive stance on private ownership.

Aristotle’s arguments in favor of private property have shaped debate on this topic throughout history. In his seminal work Politics, Aristotle argued against communal ownership of property by demonstrating the superiority of private property in four core areas: efficiency, unity, justice, and virtue.


According to Aristotle, private ownership is simply more efficient than communal ownership. The latter increases the likelihood of neglect. When people are sharing something, Aristotle claims, everyone is more likely to assume that someone else will take care of it instead of taking responsibility themselves.

As the economist Milton Friedman argued, we spend our own money most carefully and spend others’ money most liberally. Aristotle shared this stance, writing that “people pay most attention to what is their own; they care less for what is common.”

People have an incentive to be productive with what they are uniquely responsible for since they will benefit directly from their own efforts. On the other hand, communally owned property does not produce the same incentives because the fruits of your efforts are not solely your own.


Critics of private property tend to demean it as atomistic, claiming that its adoption creates a society of “rugged individualists” who refuse to cooperate with one another.

Aristotle sharply disagreed with this view, arguing instead that private property, in fact, fostered unity while communally owned property bred constant discord. On the subject of communal ownership, he wrote that “in general, living together and sharing in common in all human matters is difficult, and most of all these sorts of things.”

For Aristotle, justice constitutes being rewarded what you are worth, therefore unequal abilities result in unequal rewards.
Association is not a bad thing by any means, but having people share essential resources opens the door to potential conflict. As Aristotle put it, “It is a fact of common observation that those who own common property, and share in its management, are far more at variance with one another than those who have property separately.” In owning things for ourselves, we avoid the strife that arises from compromising over critical assets.


In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle asserts that justice is defined by equals getting equal rewards and unequals getting unequal rewards. When we apply this view to the notion of communally owned property, an issue arises. Aristotle explained it this way: “If people are not equal, they will not possess equal things, but from this comes fights and accusations… For everyone agrees that the just in distributions must be according to some worth; the worth however, everyone does not call the same thing.”

For Aristotle, justice constitutes being rewarded what you are worth, therefore unequal abilities result in unequal rewards. Aristotle considered this to be a benefit of the private property system in which people are rewarded whatever price they themselves can command.

He believed that in a system of communal ownership, problems are bound to arise where some people work more than others yet receive the same reward. This issue naturally causes discontent, but it is also unjust because it treats everyone equally to the detriment of those who dedicate more of their efforts.


Aristotle believed that using one’s property to aid friends was a great practice: “Doing favors and helping friends, guests or mates is most pleasant, and this only happens when property is private.”
If everyone communally owns everything, no one can give something of their own to someone else. Aristotle wrote of “generosity concerning possessions, for no one will be known to be generous or do generous actions since the work of generosity is in the use of one’s possessions.” In a system of communal ownership, it’s difficult to exhibit virtues of generosity, moderation, and charity. Each of these virtues depends on the fact of ownership, and what people decide to do with that ownership.

Coercion of communal property nullifies the individual’s possibility for virtue because it removes personal choice.
Private property, therefore, is not only an efficient mode of production as well as a unifying agent — it is also a vital tool for the cultivation of certain virtues.

One could argue that communal property can also be used for virtuous purposes, but this would be misleading. Virtue must be cultivated through free, uncoerced action. Aristotle begins book three of Nicomachean Ethics by saying that “since virtue is concerned with passions and actions, and on voluntary passions and actions praise and blame are bestowed, on those that are involuntary pardon, and sometimes also pity.” In this way, the coercion of communal property nullifies the individual’s possibility for virtue because it removes personal choice.

Aristotle’s arguments on property are still relevant today. Many free-marketeers have forgotten that there are more benefits of private property than mere economic efficiency. Using Aristotle as a guide, we can adopt a more humanistic approach to private property, thus acknowledging that private ownership is not only economically viable but also unifying, virtuous, and just.



To Fight Hate, Celebrate Capitalism

Jeffrey A. Tucker

I absolutely do not recommend that you read the blood-thirsty manifesto by the El Paso mass murderer, but, if you do, you will notice two main themes. First, he hates non-whites and wants them exterminated. Second, he despises commercial capitalism. That second point has not received much attention.

Now I must quote it:

"Consumer culture is creating thousands of tons of unnecessary plastic waste and electronic waste, and recycling to help slow this down is almost non-existent. Urban sprawl creates inefficient cities which unnecessarily destroys millions of acres of land. We even use god knows how many trees worth of paper towels just [to] wipe water off our hands. Everything I have seen and heard in my short life has led me to believe that the average American isn't willing to change their lifestyle, even if the changes only cause a slight inconvenience. The government is unwilling to tackle these issues beyond empty promises since they are owned by corporations. Corporations that also like immigration because more people means a bigger market for their products. I just want to say that I love the people of this country, but god damn most of y'all are just too stubborn to change your lifestyle. So the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable … I am against race mixing because it destroys genetic diversity and creates identity problems."

In American politics, there is this tendency to put people in either a right-wing or left-wing bucket. What can we say about a capitalist-hating white supremacist who thinks the solution to the environmental crisis is to slaughter people? There is a long tradition of eco-fascism (one of many species of radical Hegelianism) that doesn’t fit cleanly into either right or left; it is anti-liberal destructionism or straight-up exterminationism. It’s not the racism alone nor the environmentalism alone; it’s the combination. It is a toxic combination for any society that aspires to be free because it opposes freedom with blood-thirsty violence and the longing for totalitarian control.

David Brooks is also correct to describe this ideological view as anti-pluralism and anti-modern.

"These movements are reactions against the diversity, fluidity and interdependent nature of modern life. Antipluralists yearn for a return to clear borders, settled truths and stable identities. They kill for a fantasy, a world that shines in their imaginations but never existed in real life.

The struggle between pluralism and anti-pluralism is one of the great death struggles of our time, and it is being fought on every front.

We pluralists do not believe that human beings can be reduced to a single racial label. Each person is a symphony of identities. Our lives are rich because each of us contains multitudes.

Pluralists believe in integration, not separation. We treasure precisely the integration that sends the antipluralists into panic fits"

Note too that the killer chose a shopping district with a Walmart to undertake his murder spree. “It is not cowardly to pick low hanging fruit,” the killer wrote in giving advice to his fellow members of the white-supremacist caliphate. “Don't attack heavily guarded areas to fulfill your super soldier COD fantasy. Attack low security targets. Even though you might out gun a security guard or police man, they likely beat you in armor, training and numbers. Do not throw away your life on an unnecessarily dangerous target.”

Walmart was a target not only because it is low security; it also represented the thing he despised most, a thoroughly integrated environment where people from all walks of life cooperate in peace to their mutual advantage. Such commercial institutions are places where human dignity thrives. Walmart is the face of all the consumerism and corporate values of the market that he railed against in his screed. (They also sell a lot of the paper towels he so hates.)

This Walmart didn’t exist when I was growing up in El Paso, but this much I remember very well: it is through a vibrant commercial culture that this community coheres. As a border town with nonstop demographic evolution, the mix of language, religion, and ethnicity (for lack of a better term) might lend itself to tribalism and conflict. But through commercial institutions – through the very capitalism now denounced by extremists on the right and left – people come to understand each other, serve each other, and value each other.

Victor Rede, my best friend growing up, lived just across the street from me. His family origin traced to Mexico. I believe his father was an engineer at the military base. His mother was the most elegant woman who cared so deeply for her children (and me too!) and could cook like no one I had ever encountered. His world was very different from mine: different language roots, different religion, different ways of dealing with extended family and so on. Even the house decor was different from mine. I would stay over at his house and I recall staring at great length at the Aztec calendar above the fireplace, and wondering what it all meant.

I hadn’t known at the time but that friendship would have a profound effect on my life. It made me curious about other ways to think and live, new places to travel, new foods to eat, new discoveries to be made. What brought us together was geography but that is another way of saying commerce. His parents shopped for a house in a neighborhood with a good school, and it was my good fortune that he and his family landed just across the street from me.

The first time I met Victor, we were in line together at ice cream truck after school. We walked together after buying our treat and then discovered we were neighbors. Had it not been for that truck, the best friendship of my childhood might never had happened.

Victor is now a mighty chef and enormously successful. Growing up, he and I would work in the kitchen making cookies to bring to another neighbor, in hopes that this family would invite us to use their swimming pool because neither of us had one at our homes. It didn’t often work but the point is that together we learned the value of making things and serving others in our own interest. We thrilled in starting little businesses together (they always failed), building things, digging through the trash bins of the local malls to find treasures and reassembling them in silly ways. He taught me some Spanish and about family traditions about which I knew nothing previously. We loved shopping together and fantasized about our futures as creators and doing what each of us did well.

I’m guessing that Victor too knew that there was every reason in the world for us not to be friends, but the geographic proximity that commerce made possible meant that we never ran out of even better reasons to be friends. Commerce does this for people, every day, and every way, breaking down tribal barriers, helping us encounter traditions different from our own, giving us daily encounters with people to discover the dignity and humanity of people not like us.

This process of mutual encounters among different types of people is the ongoing work of the commercial marketplace, which is to say of capitalism. It grants us a daily reminder of the goodness of others, of their value in our lives, from all classes, races, religions, abilities, and languages. These are not forced encounters. They don’t happen because we are put together at the point of a gun, or intimidated to pretend to like people because we are being preached to by some civic-minded pietist. They happen naturally and normally out of our own interest in living a better life.

Look around your town where you live right now, and imagine it without commercial institutions: no coffee shops, no big-box stores, no grocery stores or restaurants, banks or anything else we associate with capitalism. Imagine that otherwise all your material needs are covered without them. What you end up with is a colorless world without human encounter besides kinship and other official events sponsored by public institutions. It would be dreadful. Unlovely. It could descend into hate. It could become dangerous.

The everyday human encounters of capitalism bring us into contact with a huge variety of people living pluralistic lives, and enhances human understanding. It incentivizes and rewards it. Here is the path for climbing out of the low-level existence of tribal identity into an enlightened world of mixture, integration, and prosperity.

And this is precisely why the hateful, the terrorists, and the totalitarians among us want to crush capitalism. They always have. It goes back centuries, really: ideologies of control and hate have targeted commercial life because of its best feature of breaking down tribes and substituting in its place an ever-evolving universal cooperation. The values capitalism promotes are the opposite of their nightmarish dreams. Which is why I say: if you want to fight hate, and protect life, celebrate capitalism and its main aspiration that everyone has the right to strive for a better life, and do so in peace.


The author above finds a capitalist-hating white supremacist hard to categorize. He is not.  He is a Nazi.  All the white supremacists have been Leftists -- e.g. the Ku Klux Klan


Obamas Buying $15 Million Mansion; Socialists AOC and Bernie Oddly Quiet

Someone needs to alert Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Bernie Sanders, and the rest of the socialists in this country that leftist fan-favorites Barack and Michelle Obama will soon have new digs. More importantly, because their new mansion in Martha's Vineyard costs a cool $15 million, those new digs are a vivid demonstration of the income disparity between the haves and the have-nots (the working class that just yesterday Bernie tweeted should win the class war).

TMZ is reporting that the Obamas fell in love with the mega-mansion after renting it for the summer and "the estate is now in escrow." Describing the former president and first lady's luxurious new house, pending the finalizing of the sale, TMZ says:

"The estate - incredible. It's 29 beachfront acres. The main residence is just shy of 6,900 square feet. It has 7 bedrooms, so Sasha and Malia have a place to crash, along with several of their friends. It has the obligatory pool, an outdoor fireplace, a chef's kitchen, vaulted ceilings and 2 guest wings. It has incredible views, especially while soaking in the second-floor balcony Jacuzzi. The beachfront is private .. and comes with a boathouse.

Outside the main house, there's 29 beachfront acres, a pool, chef's kitchen, outdoor fireplace & 2 guest wings

TMZ does point out: "Downside - only a 2-car garage."

However will the Obamas cope with only a two-car garage? With 29 acres, I'm sure that they can find a spot to build a bigger garage if they want. In the meantime, Comrade Bernie Sanders will no doubt be more than happy to store any of their extra cars at one of his three houses. If he does offer to do that, at least the Obamas will have some cars to drive if the race war that Bernie is attempting to foment does happen. I mean, $15 million mega-mansions on Martha's Vineyard will be near the front of the line of things to be redistributed. Dictator Bernie's houses, though, will be safe from plunder.

Personally, I don't have a problem with the Obamas buying the house. But, as my slightly tongue-in-cheek tone reveals (note the emphasis on "slightly"), my problem with it is the explicit hypocrisy it reveals among leftists. One day, a senator who is in the thick of the Democrats' choosing of their 2020 presidential nomination is tweeting favorably about class warfare. The next, a nearly sainted couple in the eyes of the left is reported to be buying a house that even some of the "evil" one percent can't afford. Is income inequality a problem or not, leftists? If it is, AOC, Bernie, and everyone else who has ever bemoaned income inequality or spoken unfavorably of the one percent should be demanding that the Obamas redistribute their wealth and live in a zero-carbon emissions tiny house.

Next time, instead of Occupying Wall Street, leftists who are angry at the wealthy should occupy the Obamas' new beachfront house.


My objection is that a lot of decent working people have had the taxes ripped off them that enabled these parasites to buy  their new house.  The Obamas would be nothing without the political convenience of their skin color.  They didn't build that


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)