Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence..

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts  

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31 July, 2012

Australian household wealth up 20 per cent from 2004-2010 as US drops 30 per cent

Given the large basic similarities between Australia and the USA, this shows that America's decline was not inevitable. But Australia does not have big black and Hispanic minorities that pull economic policies Leftward

Australian households are doing very nicely, thankyou very much. AVERAGE household wealth jumped by more than 20 per cent between 2004 and 2010, new Treasury figures show. In comparison, median household wealth in the US declined by more than 30 per cent in the same period.

Treasurer Wayne Swan claimed his Government's credit for the figures. "Contributing to this was our stimulus response to the GFC, which protected hundreds of thousands of jobs, as well as our decent social safety net and government policies that spread opportunity," Mr Swan wrote in his economic note released yesterday. Mr Swan said Australia had not been immune from global turbulence.

Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb attacked the Government for taking the most optimistic forecasts available to develop its Budget. "The Budget was predicated on everything going well around the world," Mr Robb told Network Ten.

Median wealth in Australia in 2010 was a little less than $400,000, compared with mean wealth of almost $700,000 [now], according to the RBA figures.



Even Older Americans lose homes as great recession takes toll

MABLETON, Georgia: Roy Johnson fell so far behind on his $US1000-per-month mortgage payments that last year he allowed the red brick, three-bedroom ranch he had owned since 1963 to lapse into foreclosure.

"I couldn't pay it any longer," he said. "One day, I woke up and said, 'Hell, I'm through with it. I'm walking away from the house'."

That decision swept Mr Johnson, 79, into a rapidly expanding demographic: older Americans who have lost their homes in the great recession. As he hauled his belongings by pick-up truck from this Atlanta suburb and moved into his daughter's basement, Mr Johnson became one of the 1½ million Americans over the age of 50 who lost their houses to foreclosure between 2007 and 2011. Of those, the highest foreclosure rate was for homeowners over 75.

Once viewed as the most fiscally stable age group, older people are struggling. Last week, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), released what it described as the most comprehensive analysis of why the foreclosure crisis struck so many Americans in their retirement years.

The report found that while people under 50 are the group most likely to face foreclosure, the risk of "serious delinquency" on mortgages has grown fastest for people over 50.

While the study classified even baby boomers as "older Americans," its most dire findings were for the oldest group. Among people over 75, the foreclosure rate grew more than eightfold from 2007 to 2011, to 3 per cent of that group of homeowners, the report found.

"Despite the perception that older Americans are more housing secure than younger people, millions of older Americans are carrying more mortgage debt than ever before, and more than 3 million are at risk of losing their homes," the report found. "As the mortgage crisis continues, millions of older Americans are struggling to maintain their financial security."

More here


Gun Lovers: New York's Nanny Bloomberg Won't Protect You

I have just about had enough of NYC nanny, uh, Mayor, Bloomberg. He has finally gone over the cliff with his comments last week on CNN. In response to the horrific shooting in Colorado, his remedy is once again, to control and take away our freedoms, i.e., our second amendment rights. Nanny Bloomberg says "I don't understand why the police officers across this country don't stand up collectively and say we're going to go on strike," Bloomberg told the "Piers Morgan Tonight" host. "We're not going to protect you unless you, the public, through your legislature, do what's required to keep us safe."

Ok, I get it; he’s basically telling the police to blackmail the citizens of this country until they give up their right to bear arms. When does this end? When do the American people finally stand up and shout these people down? Well, I think they have come to the tipping point. It’s like the old story of the frog in a pot of water who doesn’t notice that he is being boiled alive until it is too late. We the American people are at the boiling point and most of us are jumping out of the pot.

Bloomberg, who has been at this since 2002, started with the smoking ban. Now, no one can smoke in any park or open space without facing a fine. Next came the ban on trans fats and salt in restaurants, then the mandatory salads for school lunches. (That went over well!) Next he outlawed food donations to the homeless because the city couldn’t access the salt, fat and fiber content and of course he outlawed the Big Gulp. You can’t buy a drink over 16 oz or the food police will get you!

Day after day we Americans are being chained and shackled by regulations and laws that limit what we can say, do, eat, drive, wear or even believe. Chick fil-A is a great example of how you can’t even have a moral belief without someone trying to take it away! You can’t have an opinion on anything unless it is the politically correct opinion. You can’t make a joke or compliment anyone lest they take it the wrong way and call in the PC squad.

Have you noticed how when one or a small group of people do something wrong the rest of us have to suffer for it? If obesity is a problem for a section of the population, those of us who eat responsibly and have a healthy weight have to be punished for their sins. Instead of targeting that group of people and educating them on proper diet, we all get penalized. I don’t want to be told not to eat fried chicken if I want to, it is my choice. I am not overweight and I pay my own health insurance, leave me alone!

I own guns and took an intense training course in the use of many types of weapons. I did not and will not shoot anyone unless they threaten me or my family on my property and neither would the vast majority of gun owners.

If I want to drive an SUV or a pickup truck and can afford the high cost of gas why shouldn’t I be able to? One SUV that carries eight kids to a baseball game sure beats three little Volts that you can’t even fit a “mandatory” car seat in. Three cars versus one make sense to me.

How long do you think it will be before they decide to outlaw football? You think I’m kidding? Right now, the nannies are scrutinizing the head and other injuries that are part of the game that the players make a choice to play. Mark my words it will either be outlawed or they will look like the Michelin man. If someone chooses of their own free will to play the game knowing full well what could happen, why should anyone have the right to take that freedom away?

I am tired of being the one groped by TSA for doing absolutely nothing except boarding an aircraft; I’m tired being monitored by cameras whenever I enter any store or building. I have nothing to hide, but it is unsettling to know that you are being watched all the time because someone else might do something. I agree, there is an upside to catching criminals on film, but it is too bad that we have to live like this.

How free are we when we have to work 111 days of the year just to pay our tax burden? That will be going up even more in 2013 after the enormous tax hikes kick in. No wonder businesses and workers feel strangled, we are running as fast as we can and are still losing ground.

The bottom line is we are less free than some other countries around the world. Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland and Canada have far more room to breathe than we do. How did we let this happen? How have we lost control of what our founding fathers envisioned for us?

We have always fought for freedom in our country. We fought for our independence and our right to free speech, religion, etc. We fought the Civil War for the freedom of slaves. We have sacrificed American blood and treasure for others to have freedom around the world. Why then, do we not stand up and fight for the freedoms that are being taken away from us every day by the control freaks in government who think they know what is best for us?

WE know what is best for us! Just get out of our way and we will handle it. We are not incompetent little children that need a nanny all the time. That kind of enabling is killing this country. Yes, there are good regulations and laws that help everyone, but let’s be reasonable and use common sense. Everyone needs to start showing politicians and other elitists how ridiculous they are. They are acting like helicopter parents that don’t allow their children to experience life. Those children end up paying for it later in life because they have been protected from everything and haven’t a clue how to do anything. You can’t be protected from life; it isn’t possible and if we don’t stop this soon, freedom will be something we can say we once had.

Having freedom makes us stronger, it makes us braver. Free will can’t be bought and it can’t be taken away as much as they may try.



What Mindset Leads to Communism?


An old friend from Massachusetts happened upon my blog last year and was shocked that I'm so conservative now. We both worked a couple of years with Saul Alinsky, red diaper baby "community organizers" in the early ‘70s. He's still a proud leftist and loyal Democrat. He didn't ask me why I'd changed, and I didn't ask him why he hasn't. Perhaps we'll discuss it someday.

Until fairly recently, I felt ashamed of my left-wing activities in those days, but I realize now they were essential to constructing my world view of today, especially now that my country is being run by the kinds of people I worked with then. It's not just the president and secretary of state, it's thousands of bureaucrats, judges, and other functionaries appointed over the years. I understand how they think.

To sum up a few of the differences between them and me within an 800-word, op-ed column, generalizations are necessary, so here goes:

They're nihilists. I'm a theist. They believe the universe happened by itself. And humans? A few chemicals mixed together in a primordial sea and became a cell which reproduced and evolved into us. There's no meaning, so don't waste time looking for any. The laws of physics are absolute and nothing else exists. I believe God created it all and He is absolute. Laws of physics are secondary instruments of His spiritual will.

They're relativists. I'm not. I believe in objective truth, but since I'm as flawed as every other human, I perceive it imperfectly.

They're utopian. I'm not. There can be no perfect society this side of heaven. My former Alinsky associates think they can manifest utopia with big government. Mine is a tragic view. That is, we can never achieve perfect happiness in this life. The best we can expect is episodes. As government grows, those episodes become fewer and farther between.

They're atheistic, or, at best, agnostic. I'm Christian. More so, I'm a Catholic Christian. My church is the oldest, continually-functioning institution on earth, but it's imperfect too because it's comprised of flawed humans like me.

Both Communism and Nazism have been manifestations of their thinking. That the Catholic Church and capitalism were enemies of both is not coincidental. The 20th century was dominated by the struggle between and among these competing belief systems. Hundreds of millions died and that struggle continues, smoldering, into the 21st. Neither Communism nor Nazism are dead. Both had been in remission, but are re-emerging in parts of the body politic with ubiquitous application if Alinskyite euphemism.

Even when I was a leftist, however, I was pro-life, although today that would be considered oxymoronic. I always knew abortion kills innocent human beings. Abortion epitomizes the leftist, nihilist, atheist, utopian mindset. Protecting it is the primary objective of today's Democrat Party. Redistribution of wealth and income is second. Big government is their vehicle for both. The November election will be pivotal to the continuing struggle.

Writing this column - putting ideas into logical sequences of sentences and paragraphs each week - helps me work all this out. I do it more for myself than for you, my readers.




Israel: Romney declares Jerusalem to be capital, rattles saber at Iran: "Standing on Israeli soil, U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of the Jewish state and said the United States has 'a solemn duty and a moral imperative' to block Iran from achieving nuclear weapons capability. ... A goal of Romney’s overseas trip is to demonstrate his confidence on the world stage, but his stop in Israel also was designed to appeal to evangelical voters at home and to cut into Obama’s support among Jewish voters and donors."

U.S. birthrate lowest in 25 years: "Twenty-somethings who postponed having babies because of the poor economy are still hesitant to jump in to parenthood -- an unexpected consequence that has dropped the USA's birthrate to its lowest point in 25 years. The fertility rate is not expected to rebound for at least two years and could affect birthrates for years to come, according to Demographic Intelligence, a Charlottesville, Va., company that produces quarterly birth forecasts for consumer products and pharmaceutical giants such as Pfizer and Procter & Gamble."

On courage and cowardice: "I was at a meeting the other day, of a new group that was looking for a name. The name that was proposed, under which the individuals at the meeting had gathered in the first place, was a fine, tradition-evoking one, stemming from the early American Revolution. It stated a purpose, it sent a message, and I was very proud to be associated with it. Almost immediately, however, a few participants began to object to the name and to the logo that went with it. It was 'too edgy,' someone said. It looked too 'aggressive' (believe me, the posture involved is one of pure self-defense). It might offend some people. It might make them reluctant to join the organization or (gasp!) to give us money. It might keep other groups from affiliating with us. Worst (and most hysterically funny of all), it might bring us to the attention of the government." [Funny? I think that's prudent -- JR]

Comment on the Olympic opening ceremony: "Is it just me or did the Olympic opening ceremony seem a little leftist and one sided? Whilst the commentary was totally lacking and some of the scenes made no sense at all it would seem we went from Britain went from tending fields with a few geese and horses to an industrial revolution with nothing in between. What’s worse we went from the industrial revolution to the internet to pop music and nothing else. Where were the sciences, the biotechnology advances, space science and astro physics? Britain has contributed so much more to the world than suggested on Friday night."


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


30 July, 2012

The qualities of independence and self-reliance that made America great have slowly leaked away

Fifty years ago, in the summer of 1962, America was a far different place from what it is today. President John Kennedy was presiding over Camelot, and despite fouling up the invasion of Cuba, his approval rating hovered at around 80 percent. Unemployment was 5.2 percent with the average family income at $6,000 a year.

Most Americans did not have much money but made do. Millions bought Elvis Presley's record "Return to Sender" and went to see "Lawrence of Arabia" in movie theaters. At home, "Wagon Train" was the top TV show.

Years later, the film "American Graffiti" featured the ad campaign "Where were you in '62?" Well, I was on Long Island, hanging around. During the day, we swam at the Levittown pool and played stickball in the street, and in August, my father took us to a lake in Vermont. Also, we went to Jones Beach and baked in the sun without block while secondhand cigarette smoke engulfed us on the blanket.

My folks had little disposable income, certainly not enough for air conditioning or a color television set. But again, there was little whining in my working-class neighborhood. We had fun with what was available. Most everybody worked. Nobody was on welfare.

In fact, just 6 percent of Americans received welfare payments in 1962. Now that number is 35 percent. More than 100 million of us are getting money from the government, and that does not count Social Security and Medicare, programs workers pay into. This is a profound change in the American tradition.

Also, we now have close to nine million workers collecting federal disability checks. In 2001, that number was about five million. Here's my question: Is the workplace that much more hazardous than it was 11 years ago? Is our health that much worse?

The answer is no. What we are seeing is the rise of the Nanny State.

Self-reliance and ambition made the United States the most powerful nation on Earth. But that ethic is now eroding fast. Instead, many Americans are looking to game the system, and the philosophy of "where's mine" has taken deep root. About half of American workers pay no federal income tax, leaving the burden to be shouldered by the achievers. As The Edward Winter Group once sang: "Come on and take a free ride. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!"

Presiding over and joyously encouraging this societal shift is the purveyor of social justice President Barack Obama. His entire campaign is now built around making the rich "pay their fair share." And where will that money go? To those in need, of course. And those legions are growing larger every single day.

Fair-minded people do not begrudge a safety net for Americans who, through no fault of their own, need help. A compassionate society provides for those battered by life. But what is happening in this country is far beyond a helping hand. We are creating a dual society. In one corner: Americans who work hard to succeed. In the other corner: folks who want what you have.

And the second corner is the growth industry.



If You Can't Win on the Facts ...

I am normally very understanding of the need for Presidential vacations, Presidential weekends off, or even Presidential naps.

It's a tough job and there is always someone, somewhere doing something illegal, dangerous, and/or stupid somewhere on the planet that demands your attention.

Having written that, I am becoming increasingly irritated with the fact that the total Obama campaign strategy is: Destroy Romney personally.

There is an old saying that goes something like: "If you can't win on the facts, argue the law. If you can't win on the law, call your opponent names."

The Obama campaign can't win on the facts; The economic situation is what it is and it is not good. They can't win on the law; about the only thing they've gotten passed is Health Care and you know how popular that is.

So, they are reduced to the third option: Calling their opponent names: Romney the maybe job outsourcer. Romney the maybe tax evader. Romney the too rich guy. Romney the manipulator of Winter Olympics. Romney the … (pick one). In short, they got nothin'.

The national press corps - which has by no means given Obama a free ride - still buys into the Obama campaign's act. They treat campaign advisor David Axelrod like he is delivering tablets from the Mount each and every Sunday.

They also buy into the "Romney the …" bit. I had a reporter call recently suggesting that the reason Romney won't release 5-10-20 years of tax returns is because there might be some years when he didn't pay any taxes.

I said that was an assumption he was not allowed to make. Or, if he did want to make that assumption he had to assume that Obama won't release his college records because he never actually accumulated enough hours to graduate but was waived through the system into law school. A long silence was followed by, "… well." Sauce for the goose and all that.

There was a small item this week that Obama was meeting with his Cabinet. Not a big deal, except this was only the second time in 2012 he felt the need to have a Cabinet meeting.

Before you get all huffy about how many Cabinet Meetings did George W. hold in his re-election year, I checked with people who worked in the White House back then. The answer is six, which was about average over the course of his Presidency.

I understand this is only the end of July, so Obama might hold four more Cabinet meetings before the end of the year, but to misquote Grantland Rice, that's not the way to bet.

The Obama campaign has had its collective knickers in such a twist over Obama's "you didn't build that" line that we have to believe it hurt even as the campaign claims it was taken out of context.

The Republican National Committee has a YouTube video titled, "The More Context You Get, the Worse it Sounds." Ok, doesn't exactly trip off the tongue but it's on YouTube.

The reason the Obama is reacting so strongly can be found in Gallup data released yesterday that show Obama's standing among business owners is 35 percent approve while 59 percent disapprove. The highest approval group for Obama are professionals who approve by a 52-43 margin. Not exactly a landslide, but way better than -24.

As to Mitt Romney's opening day as an international traveler; he did say that the threats of strikes by immigration agents and customs officials were "disconcerting" but I don't believe Romney's Salt Lake City Olympics ever confused the flag of South Korea with that of North Korea as the Brits did before a soccer match Wednesday in Scotland.

Nevertheless it might have been better for him to have said, "I know a little about organizing an Olympics. A million things CAN go wrong; some things DO go wrong; but I have complete confidence that the London Games will be terrific." He didn't, and we'll have to wait to find out how (or whether) Romney was briefed for his meetings in London.

As for Obama, he still won't have the facts or the law on his side so he's reduced to calling his opponent names.

The most famous stanza of one of Grantland Rice's poems should be hung on the walls of the White House and the campaign headquarters in Chicago:

"For when the One Great Scorer comes, To mark against your name,

He writes - not that you won or lost - But how you played the Game."



It's massive bureaucratization that has made healthcare so expensive

If you thought most of the increased costs in health care were going to the physicians and surgeons and specialists, you would be most definitely wrong. Take a close look at the chart that accompanies this article. The number of doctors in America has roughly doubled, perhaps a little more. Perhaps 125% growth. The population of the US has increased about the same amount over the same period of time.

But take a good look at the number of administrators that have been added to the US health care scene in these past 40 years! Over 3000%!

When something, ANYTHING, increases by 3000%, that means the number has increased exponentially, not linearly or even geometrically. 125% growth over 40 years is about a doubling in number. 3000% growth means 'it has grown in magnificent leaps and bounds'!

If there were 10 doctors in your hometown in 1970, there would be roughly 25 doctors working there today to take care of everyone. If there were 25 administrators in the medical field in your town in 1970, there would be over 750 health care administrators in your town today. Where do you think the increased costs in health care have occurred over that time frame, in doctor's salaries or what is more commonly referred to as 'G&A' expenses ('General Administrative')?

The federal government has made it clear that they think the problem is in doctors' fees since they have repeatedly been lowering the 'Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement rates' for the past 2 decades at least.

But they don't control the salaries of the CEOs and the administrative staff of these large hospitals and medical practices so they can't 'lower' the reimbursement rates to them directly, at least as they can with the doctors.

Are there more or less support staff nowadays than way back when? Think about the elementary school, junior high school, high school you attended perhaps as far back as the Dark Ages of the 1960's (Triassic Period) or the 1970's (Jurassic Period). Do you remember tons of 'other people' working there other than the great teachers you had and perhaps a principal, assistant principal, some office support staff, coaches and 2-3 driver's ed teachers?

According to a recent Texas education report, every public school had roughly as many support staff and administrators in it as the number of full-time teachers and educators.

In every school. In 2009. That is a 1-to-1 ratio for those of you keeping score at home. So it is not just health care where the number of administrative staff has exploded over the past 35 years, is it? Public education suffers from the same sclerotic bureaucratic diseases as modern American medicine today.

What is driving this surge in administrative staff in the medical world and public education?

You guessed right. More regulation and laws from Washington, the state capitals and the local governments. (see 'Regulations') We have had doctors tell us they spend 50% of their waking, working-day time filling out paperwork, complying with regulations and overall, making darned sure they do not get sued by anyone. 50% of their precious time. Even with all those staff support people.

Weren't doctors trained to 'fix' people and help cure them of what ails them? Why do we tolerate such a clear waste of time and talent when so many people are sick and need their help?

That would be like paying LeBron James $100 million ostensibly to play basketball for the Miami Heat and win championships....'but, oh, by the way, fill out all these attendance and concession forms in triplicate before, during and after the game and make sure you have them on my desk by 9:30 pm every night, win or lose!'

Making our well-trained medical personnel to fill out forms for half the time they are at work is like asking Secretariat to run in The Kentucky Derby with 5000 pounds of weight on his broad back.

We want them to do their jobs which is to heal people and help them get well. Just like we should all want great teachers to 'just teach our kids well' and not be over-worked secretaries, truant officers, psychologists and crowd control police.

We recently read of a large medical center where 42 administrative personnel were making well in excess of $1 million per year in salary. A piece. Per head. Per capita. Generous benefits on top of those generous salaries. The two top executives were pulling down $6.2 million and $4.3 million in annual salary.

That is a lotta tongue depressors and MRIs that have to be sold to pay for those high salaries, doesn't it? Medicare and Medicaid only covers some of those costs so where does the medical industry turn to get the money to pay for these high salaries and other costs of what are typically hundreds of millions, if not billions, of dollar enterprises?

You. If you pay 100% of your health care. Which you probably don't. In which case, it comes out of your insurance company's pocket. In which case your health care premium goes up 16% per year as does the cost to your employer.

Before Obamacare kicks in full force in 2014, that is.

Want to take a dizzying look at the number of regulations now underway for Obamacare and 'being promulgated' (we love that word for some reason) as we speak and have been for the past 2 years?

Take a look at this CMMS link NOT on a full stomach and see if you understand a darned thing about what is going to be happening as of January 1, 2014 if Obamacare is not repealed, rolled back or significantly amended and improved (streamlined)

Here's just one footnote from the Federal Register of just one of these hundreds of new regulations:

"7 This language underscores and is not inconsistent with the scope of the disclosure requirement under the existing Department of Labor claims procedure regulation. That is, the Department of Labor interprets 29 USC 1133 and the DOL claims procedure regulation as already requiring that plans provide claimants with new or additional evidence or rationales upon request and an opportunity to respond in certain circumstances. See Brief of amicus curiae Secretary of the United States Department of Labor, Midgett v. Washington Group International Long Term Disability Plan, 561 F.3d 887 (8th Cir. 2009) (No.08-2523) (expressing disagreement with cases holding that there is no such requirement)."

You wanna bet that every hospital and medical facility in America is going to have to hire tons of new administrative people, lawyers and Executive VPs for Compliance in the next several years?

Where do you think health care costs are heading in America then?




Homosexual marriage to be introduced in Scotland: "Scotland could become the first part of the UK to introduce gay marriage after the SNP government announced plans to make the change. Ministers confirmed they would bring forward a bill on the issue, indicating the earliest ceremonies could take place by the start of 2015. Political leaders, equality organizations and some faith groups welcomed introducing same-sex marriage. But it was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church and Church of Scotland."

The ignoramus strikes again: "Barack Obama has said that ‘AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers’, even though the rifle, most associated with terrorism and communism, is not issued to the US military or any of its Western allies. The US military’s primary rifle is the M-16. An AR-15, the civilian variant of the M-16, was allegedly used by James Holmes to killed 12 people and wound 58 people at a screening of the film ‘Dark Right’ in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado this month. Early reports that Holmes had been arrested with an AK-47 proved false. The AK-47 was first produced by the Soviet Union and takes its name from its creator Mikhail Kalashnikov and 1947, the year it was introduced into service. The rifle was subsequently issued to most Warsaw Pact armies and exported to throughout the world."

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


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


29 July, 2012

What are the Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

Lots of people would like to know the answer to that and many answers have been proposed. Daron Acemoglu dismisses the most popular explanations and proposes a contrast between societies run on extractive and inclusive lines. He says that societies are usually run on extractive lines but it is the inclusive societies that are the runaway successes. Below are his illustrative case-studies. I am not persuaded but will add my doubts at the foot of the extract below:


There is no better laboratory that demonstrates how extractive institutions emerge and persist than the New World. The Americas provide a brilliant example for understanding how different institutions form, how they become supported within different political frameworks, and how that, in turn, leads to huge economic divergences.

The economic and political institutions in the New World have been largely shaped by their colonization experience starting at the beginning of the 16th century. While the tales of Francisco Pizarro and Hernán Cortés are quite familiar, I'd like to start with Juan Díaz de Solís — a Spaniard who in 1516 initiated the colonization of the southern cone of South America, in what is today Argentina and Uruguay. Under de Solís's leadership, three ships and a crew of 70 men founded the city of Buenos Aires, meaning "good airs." Argentina and Uruguay have very fertile lands, with a climate that would later become the basis of nearly a century of very high income per capita because of the productivity of these areas.

The colonization of these areas itself, however, was a total failure — and the reason was that the Spaniards arrived with a given model of colonization. This model was to find gold and silver and, perhaps most importantly, to capture and enslave the Indians so that they could work for them. Unfortunately, from the colonists' point of view, the native populations of the area, known as the Charrúas and the Querandí, consisted of small bands of mobile huntergatherers.

Their sparse population density made it difficult for the Spaniards to capture them. They also did not have an established hierarchy, which made it difficult to coerce them into working. Instead, the Indians fought back — capturing de Solís and clubbing him to death before he could make it into the history books as one of the famous conquistadors. For those that remained, there were not enough Indians to act as workhorses, and one by one the Spaniards began to die as starvation set in.

The rest of the crew moved up the perimeter to what is now known as Asunción, Paraguay. There the conquistadors encountered another band of Indians, who on the surface looked similar to the Charrúas and the Querandí. The Guaraní, however, were a little different. They were more densely settled and already sedentary. They had also established a hierarchical society with an elite class of princes and princesses, while the rest of the population worked for the benefit of the elite.

The conquistadors immediately took over this hierarchy, setting themselves up as the elite. Some of them married the princesses. They put the Guaraní to work producing food, and ultimately the remainder of de Solís's original crew led a successful colonization effort that survived for many centuries to come.

The institutions established among the Guaraní were the same types of institutions that were established throughout other parts of Latin America: forced labor institutions with land grants for the elite Spaniards. The Indians were forced to work for whatever wages the elites would pay them. They were under constant coercive pressure — forced not only to work but also to buy what the elites offered up for sale. It is no surprise that these economic institutions did not promote economic growth. Yet it's also no surprise that the political institutions underpinning this system persisted — establishing and continuously recreating a ruling class of elites that did not encourage economic development in Latin America.

Yet, the question still remains: Could it have been geography, culture, or enlightened leadership — rather than institutional factors — that played a critical role in the distinct fates of the two teams of explorers?


Roughly a thousand miles north, at the beginning of the 17th century, the model of the Virginia Company — made up of the elite captains and aristocrats who were sent to North America — was actually remarkably similar to the model of the conquistadors. The Virginia Company also wanted gold. They also thought that they would be able to capture the Indians and put them to work. But unfortunately for them, the situation they encountered was also quite similar to what the conquistadors witnessed in Argentina and Uruguay.

The joint stock companies found a sparsely populated, very mobile band of Indians who were, once again, unwilling to work in order to provide food for the settlers. The settlers therefore went through a period of starvation. However, while the Spaniards had the option of moving up north, the captains of the Virginia Company did not have this option. No such civilization existed.

They therefore came up with a second strategy. Without the ability to enslave the Indians and put them to work, they decided to import their own lower strata of society, which they brought to the New World under a system of indentured servitude. To give you a sense of this, let me quote directly from the laws of the Jamestown colony, promulgated by the governor Sir Thomas Gates and his deputy Sir Thomas Dale:

No man or woman shall run away from the colony to the Indians upon pain of death. Anyone who robs a garden, public or private or a vineyard or who steals ears of corn shall be punished with death. No member of the colony will sell or give any commodity of this country to a captain, mariner, master, or sailor to transport out of the colony or for his own private use upon pain of death.
Two things become immediately apparent in reading these laws. First, contrary to the image that English colonies sometimes garner, the Jamestown colony that the Virginia Company was chartered to establish was not a happy, consensual place. Pretty much anything the settlers could do would be punished by death. Second, the company encountered real problems that were cause for concern — namely, that it was extraordinarily difficult to prevent the settlers they brought to form the lower strata of society from running away or engaging in outside trade. The Virginia Company therefore fought to enforce this system for a few more years, but in the end they decided that there was no practical way to inject this lower stratum into their society.

Finally, they devised a third strategy — a very radical one in which the only option left was to offer economic incentives to the settlers. This led to what is known as the headright system, which was established in Jamestown in 1618. In essence, each settler was given a legal grant of land, which they were then required to work in exchange for secure property rights to that plot. But there was still one problem. How could the settlers be sure that they had secure rights to that property, particularly in an environment in which a stolen ear of corn was punishable by death?

The very next year, in order to make these economic incentives credible, the General Assembly offered the settlers political rights as well. This, in effect, allowed them to advance above the lower strata of society, to a position in which they would be making their own decisions through more inclusive political institutions.


The above examples seem to me to offer no insight into the two runaway economic and political successes of the 19th century: Britain and Germany. Britain inherited a system of individual liberty from way back which was emphasized by the governments of the day, notably by both the Liberals under Gladstone and the Conservatives under Disraeli.

Germany, however, was created by Bismarck in 1872 and flourished under his authoritarian rule. And the systems which he set in place survived his term in office and led to continued economic advance in Germany. And by 1914, Germany was arguably more powerful and prosperous than Britain. It was only a tenuous lead in naval strength that gave Britain any headway over Germany. Compared to the German army, the British army was of course laughable. It took the combined might of France, Britain, Russia and the USA to bring Germany to heel.

So how does Germany fit the Acemoglu model? I cannot see that it does. Both Prussia before 1872 and Germany after 1872 had parliaments with varying degrees of influence but both Prussia and Germany remained substantially under the control of political strongmen, first Bismarck and then Kaiser Bill. One of the most famous episodes in his career was when Bismarck ran Prussia for four years in the name of the Kaiser alone -- completely ignoring the Prussian parliament.

So it seems to me that the Acemoglu model gives us no insight into the ORIGIN of powerful and prosperous societies. It does however give a reasonable DESCRIPTION of powerful and prosperous societies -- secure property rights etc. But we already knew that. It is the origin question that we want answered.

And I do have an answer -- but it is so politically incorrect and will initially be seen as so improbable that I hesitate to say much about it. Briefly, I think that a tradition of respecting the individual is the key and that such an orientation was historically basic among Teutonic peoples and is still alive (though gasping) today. I think it is that tradition which led to both British and German eminence in the 19th century. I set out some of the history behind my thinking on the matter here


No science can explain massacres like Aurora

In his comments below Theodore Dalrymple applies a view that is close to the heart of conservatism: An acceptance that that there will always be a lot that we do not know or understand and that we must always therefore proceed with caution. Only Leftists "know" all the answers

By a strange irony, alleged Aurora mass murderer James Holmes was a doctoral student of neuroscience—the discipline that will, according to its most ardent and enthusiastic advocates, finally explain Man to himself after millennia of mystery and self-questioning.

But what could count as an explanation of what James Holmes did? At what point would we be able to say, “Aha, now I understand why he dyed his hair like the Joker and went down to the local cinema and shot all those people?” When we have sifted through his biography, examined his relationships, listened to what he has to say, and put him through all the neuropsychological and neurological tests, will we really be much wiser?

Like Anders Breivik, the young Norwegian who killed 77 people in Norway by bomb and gun, Holmes is reported to have been a “loner,” a young man without the social skills or perhaps the inclination to mix with his peers in a normal way. But such loners, though a small minority, are numbered in the thousands and tens of thousands; vanishingly few of them act like Breivik or Holmes, and many, indeed, make valuable contributions to society. Preventive detention for loners, or even special surveillance of them, would hardly be justified.

The same is true of any other characteristic that might link Breivik and Holmes to their acts. Even the presence of a recognized mental illness, such as schizophrenia, would not suffice, since most people with that affliction don’t act in this fashion. And the temptation to indulge in a circular argument, where the explanandum becomes the explanans and vice versa, must be resisted, because it offers the illusion of understanding where there is none: “He must have been mad to do this; and he did it because he was mad.”

The multifactorial analyses to which experts are inevitably driven—a bit of genetics here, a bit of parenting there, plus a dash of social pressure, culture, and the legal availability of weaponry thrown into the explanatory soup, as the weird sisters threw eye of newt and wool of bat into their cauldron—will leave us not much better off. The mesh will never be drawn fine enough for us to be able to say: “Now, at last, I understand.”

And yet our nature drives us to seek an explanation and an understanding (the two are related but not quite the same). Even if we felt like it, we cannot say: “Well, such things happen; let us hope, Inshallah, that they never happen again.” We must know the how, but also the why.

An atrocious event like the Aurora massacre brings us up sharply against something that for the most part we ignore: that, for metaphysical reasons, our explanatory reach exceeds our grasp and will do so forever. We seek a final explanation, but cannot reach one because, as Haitian peasants say, “Behind mountains, more mountains.”



Rich Liberal Hypocrites!


I don't know about you, but I am sick of all the Democratic mud-slinging at Mitt Romney because he is rich. The level of hypocrisy tells me that Obama and his trolls are so bereft of anything to offer the voters that they insult them with this class warfare garbage about "millionaires and billionaires."

President Obama, according to a May 15, 2012 USA Today news article, "is a wealthy man with assets of as much as $10 million. Moreover, "he has a hefty stake in JP Morgan Chase, the megabank...with an account worth between 500,000 and $1 million."

Romney is rich. If he is elected, the Forbes list of the ten richest U.S. Presidents noted that in 2010 he reported adjusted gross income of $22 million of which $8 million was interest and dividends." The January 24, 2012 Forbes article by William P. Barrett said that "implies assets in the range of $200 million to $250 million."

Romney, however, would not be tops in presidential wealth. At the top of the list, in adjusted terms, George Washington was one of the wealthiest men in the nation when he became president. Mount Vernon plantation grew to 6,500 acres and Washington was a canny businessman, distilling booze, and even raising mules.

In 2010 dollars, Democrats who held the presidency in the last century included John F. Kennedy whose net worth was $1 billion. Jacqueline Kennedy was an oil heiress and his father was one of the wealthiest men in America. Almost all of JFK's wealth income and property came from a trust shared with other family members.

Clinton's wealth is estimated at $38 million. Twenty years of public service did not make him a rich man, but since leaving office, books and speaking fees earned him big bucks.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was worth $60 million, mostly acquired through inheritance and marriage. He spent most of his adult life in public service and his mother controlled the purse strings.

Lyndon Baines Johnson made a lot of money as a politician. He would accumulate 1,500 acres in Blanco County, Texas, and he and his wife owned a radio and television station in Austin. His net worth was estimated at $98 million.

In 2011, you couldn't swing a dead cat in Congress without hitting a multi-millionaire, many of them Democrats. John Kerry who ran against George Bush has a net worth of $193.07 million, much of it the result of marrying rich wives. Jay Rockefeller whose very name suggests wealth has $81.63 million. The California ladies, Diane Feinstein comes in at $55.07 million and Nancy Pelosi is worth $35.20 million.

The Daily Caller.com recently reported that Rep. Pelosi's 2011 financial disclosure statement included between $1 million and $5 million earned from partnership income with Matthews International Capital Management, a firm that invests exclusively in Asia where much U.S. outsourcing occurs.

Among the Republicans, Rep. Michael McCaul has assets of $294.21 million, much of it is held by his wife, Linda McCaul, the daughter of Clear Channel Communications CEO and founder, Lowry Mays. Rep. Darrell Issa, who earned his wealth in the private sector, is worth $220.40, and, from a celebrated New Jersey family, Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen is worth $20.35 million. Neither of the Bush's, father and son, made it into the top, most wealthy Presidents.

Suffice to say if you weren't already wealthy when you got elected to Congress, the odds are you will accumulate wealth while there.

Obama's salary as President is $400,000 a year; he has a $150,000 expense account and a $100,000 tax-free travel account, along with a $20,000 entertainment budget. Not big money compared to the CEOs of major corporations and banking institutions, but the taxpayers pick up the tab for a lot of extras that go with the job.

If the economy will decide Obama's fate in November, then a lot of voters, Republicans, Democrats, and independents are going to be thinking about the past 40-plus months of 8.2% unemployment, billions wasted on "clean energy" companies that have gone bankrupt sticking taxpayers with the losses, the national debt of $17 trillion that robs the future from the next generation and the one after that, and the largest tax increase in history--$494 billion in one year-that will hit on January 1, 2013. I don't even want to think of the costs of Obamacare.

Caterwauling about how wealthy Mitt Romney is and telling lies about his career at Bain Capital may fool some people, but most know where their financial problems came from and have no doubt it has been Barack Hussein Obama's appalling mismanagement of the nation's economy.

Being rich in America never kept anyone from being elected President. Obama and many of his Democratic Party colleagues are the wealthiest hypocrites in public office.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


28 July, 2012


27 July, 2012

Has Ron Unz built his castle on sand?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ron Unz

My reply to the above was as follows:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


26 July, 2012

Alger Hisses Forever

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

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

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

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

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

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



Proof! Establishment media is controlled by Democrat operatives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



News Versus Propaganda

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Implicit Errors in Debts to Society Arguments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


25 July, 2012

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

Unless you are a Federal government employee

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Obama version of "cost cutting"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



A small businessman answers back

Dear President Obama:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dr. Mike S. Adams



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


24 July, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

Doug Giles

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

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

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

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

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

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



Obama's destructive crackdown on first jobs

John Stossel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Republican Governors Show the Way

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

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

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

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

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



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


23 July, 2012

USA: The Next Detroit?

By Porter Stansberry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



7.6 Mil May Lack Coverage If No Medicaid Expansion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



ObamaCare is now Unenforceable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



A medical analogy for the American economy

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


22 July, 2012

The Colorado Shooting Gives the Media An Excuse to Ignore Real Issues

There was a shooting last night in Colorado, and already the gun control and concealed carry people are trying to score political points. No doubt, Obama will fly to Colorado because it’s a pivotal state in the election. The media will keep the story front and center. The media won’t talk about the Bulgaria bombing that was caused by the release of a terrorist from Gitmo, and they won’t talk about the economy.

The shooting just proves there are crazy people out there. I doubt seriously if a person had a revolver would have been able to shoot that guy in a dark theater. At the same time, he was nuts. No gun control law would have stopped him from getting an AK-47 and doing what he did. I don’t know if there is a solution to these sorts of problems.

Many social issues can be taken care of economically. Provide the right economic incentives and the issue will sort itself out. But in the statistical distribution that makes up the human race, not everyone falls within three standard deviations of the mean. That’s worth remembering when we think about crazy people that decide the best course of action to get attention is shoot as many people as they can.

We tend to anchor on the weirdness because the media reports it. It’s news. If the media reported on the ho hum average daily life of 99% of Americans, it wouldn’t be news. We wouldn’t watch. I have noticed that reporters want to really shape stories these days because there is so much competition for attention. Instead of letting the individual make up their mind, news has become very slanted.

Even when they report both sides of the story. For example, say 95% of economists believe we are in recession. The news media will dig up the 5% of economists that are on the opposite side, and when they air the debate it looks like all economists are split 50/50. It’s good they find the opposite side and give them air time, but they need to let the viewer know all the facts behind the story.

All weekend, we will hear about this tragic story. My heart goes out to the families of the people in that theatre-even if they came away unhurt. The mental scars will be horrible. But the real economic stories that came out this week will affect every American more than one terrible event. Check these out, and see if the mainstream media makes a peep about them.

1. Weekly jobless claims shot up to 386,000.

2. Foreclosures are hitting our most vulnerable citizens.

3. Factory activity contracted for a second month in a row.

4. Home sales dropped a whopping 5.4% — the biggest drop in nine months.

5. Retail sales dropped for the third straight month.

6. Consumer confidence dipped to 84.7.

7. U.S. business inventories increased by .3%…

8. …sales dropped .1%.

9. Food prices are skyrocketing.

10. More Americans are getting federal disability than jobs.

Add to that the $1 trillion dollar farm bill that is being mashed through Congress. The bill fosters more crony capitalism. That’s a story the media ought to be covering with all hands on deck.



Obama is just an old fashioned American Fascist

America's Progressive era predated and inspired the 20th century Fascists

"If you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. ... If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." -- Barack Obama

The president's defenders have claimed he either misspoke last week at a Roanoke, Va., campaign event or that what he said is true. Both defenses have merit. Obama surely didn't mean to say something that politically idiotic so plainly. And it's true that no man's accomplishments are entirely his own. We're all indebted to others, and we all rely on government to provide some basic things. Only the straw-men conservatives of Obama's imagination yearn for an America with no roads and bridges.

Meanwhile, what many conservatives don't appreciate is that Obama is not some otherworldly radical, importing foreign ideas, but that he in fact fits within an old American intellectual tradition. Indeed, you might even call him a reactionary progressive; he seeks to restore the assumptions and priorities of the Progressive Era.

Herbert Croly, the godfather of American progressivism, spoke for a generation of progressive intellectuals when he wrote that the "individual has no meaning apart from the society in which his individuality has been formed." For the progressives, society and government were almost interchangeable terms. John Dewey, the seminal progressive philosopher, believed that "organized social control" via a "socialized economy" was the only means to create "free" individuals. For the progressives, freedom wasn't the absence of government coercion, it was a pile of gifts from the state.

Progressives invented the idea of the "moral equivalent of war" as a means of inciting citizens to drop their personal priorities and rally around the state for a government-defined "cause larger than themselves." Obama came into office under the motto "a crisis is a terrible thing to waste" and has been looking for "Sputnik moments" ever since in a search for a way to rationalize his agenda.

To the extent Obama ever speaks the language of religion, it is to justify, even sanctify, the works of government. He often invokes the Hallmark-ized biblical teaching that "I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper" as a means to rationalize not personal action but government action. (Obama's own half-siblings have received little attention from their very wealthy and famous relative.)

Progressive minister Walter Rauschenbusch famously declared that only the "God that answereth by low food prices" should be God. You might say that under the ObamaCare vision, only the God that answereth with free birth control should be God.

In the slideshow "The Life of Julia" (Google it), the Obama campaign celebrates a progressive vision of citizenship where all of a hypothetical young woman's accomplishments are co-produced by the state: "Under President Obama, Julia decides to have a child."

It's all of a piece with Obama's conviction that "a problem facing any American is a problem facing all Americans."

The problem facing Obama is that there's a reason the American people never fully embraced the progressive vision. The idea driving America is the individual pursuit of happiness. Just because the word "individual" appears in there doesn't make it a selfish ideal; it means it's a vision of liberty. We each find our happiness where we seek it. For some that's in business, for others the arts, or religion or family or a mix of them all. And very often our happiness depends upon the satisfaction we feel at having conquered problems on our own.

Under President Obama, that sense of happiness is a mirage, because everything is a co-production of the state.



Trashing Achievements

Thomas Sowell

There was a time, within living memory, when the achievements of others were not only admired but were often taken as an inspiration for imitation of the same qualities that had served these achievers well, even if we were not in the same field of endeavor and were not expecting to achieve on the same scale.

The perseverance of Thomas Edison, as he tried scores of materials before finally trying tungsten as the filament of the light bulb he was inventing; the dedication of Abraham Lincoln as he studied law on his own while struggling to make a living -- these were things young people were taught to admire, even if they had no intention of becoming inventors or lawyers, much less President of the United States.

Somewhere along the way, all that changed. Today, the very concept of achievement is de-emphasized and sometimes attacked. Following in the footsteps of Barack Obama, Professor Elizabeth Warren of Harvard has made the downgrading of high achievers the centerpiece of her election campaign against Senator Scott Brown.

To cheering audiences, Professor Warren says, "there is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You build a factory out there, good for you, but I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers that the rest of us paid to educate."

Do the people who cheer this kind of talk bother to stop and think through what she is saying? Or is heady rhetoric enough for them?

People who run businesses are benefitting from things paid for by others? Since when are people in business, or high-income earners in general, exempt from paying taxes like everybody else?

At a time when a small fraction of high-income taxpayers pay the vast majority of all the taxes collected, it is sheer chutzpah to depict high-income earners as somehow being subsidized by "the rest of us," whether in paying for the building of roads or the educating of the young.

Since everybody else uses the roads and the schools, why should high achievers be expected to feel like free loaders who owe still more to the government, because schools and roads are among the things that facilitate their work? According to Elizabeth Warren, because it is part of an "underlying social contract."

Conjuring up some mythical agreement that nobody saw, much less signed, is an old ploy on the left -- one that goes back at least a century, when Herbert Croly, the first editor of The New Republic magazine, wrote a book titled "The Promise of American Life."

Whatever policy Herbert Croly happened to favor was magically transformed by rhetoric into a "promise" that American society was supposed to have made -- and, implicitly, that American taxpayers should be forced to pay for. This pious hokum was so successful politically that all sorts of "social contracts" began to appear magically in the rhetoric of the left.

If talking in this mystical way is enough to get you control of billions of dollars of the taxpayers' hard-earned money, why not?

Certainly someone who claimed to be part Indian, as Elizabeth Warren did when applying for academic appointments in an affirmative action environment, is unlikely to be squeamish about using imaginative words during a political election campaign.

Sadly, this kind of cute use of words is not confined to one political candidate or to this election year. The very concept of achievement is a threat to the vision of the left, and has long been attacked by those on the left.

People who succeed -- whether in business or anywhere else -- are often said to be "privileged," even if they started out poor and worked their way up the hard way.

Outcome differences are called "class" differences. Thus when two white women, who came from families in very similar social and economic circumstances, made different decisions and got different results, this was the basis for a front-page story titled "Two Classes, Divided by 'I Do'" in the July 15th issue of the N.Y Times. Personal responsibility, whether for achievement or failure, is a threat to the whole vision of the left, and a threat the left goes all-out to combat, using rhetoric uninhibited by reality.



Is America about to get Stalinist unemployment statistics?

Stalin's statistics were pure invention

Five months ago Barack Obama nominated union backer, liberal economist and Federal Reserve bureaucrat Erica Groshen to lead the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) — the agency best known for calculating the nation’s unemployment rate each month. Obviously Groshen’s nomination was yet another sop to organized labor — which doled out big dollars and major manpower to help elect Obama in 2008 (and which has already been rewarded handsomely for its efforts).

It was also yet another endorsement of the failed Keynesian interventionism that Obama has continued to foist on our private sector ever since he was elected — with disastrous consequences for our nation’s economy.

But this particular appointment represents much more than just another lifetime left winger being tapped by Obama to fill a lofty taxpayer-funded perch. For starters, Groshen’s background is more explicitly linked to overt anti-American ideologies than any Obama appointee since his infamous “green jobs czar” Van Jones.

Such radical ideological moorings are cause for real concern given that Groshen is being asked to preside over an agency where the inviolability of hard, methodologically obtained data — not the specter of ideological influence — is vital to maintaining institutional neutrality and credibility.

In fact public confidence in BLS methodology and impartiality is much more essential than that — as this agency’s unemployment and job growth data consistently drive global financial markets and move public opinion like no other economic indicators.

Moreover Groshen is being asked to lead this agency at a time when its data is being compared and contrasted not only with more credible alternative measures of labor utilization but also prior unemployment promises from the Obama administration.

Every statistic counts — but we also must be able to count on the veracity of every statistic (particularly those that come stamped with the imprimatur of officialdom).

In other words, this is the absolute worst possible time to nominate a BLS commissioner with suspect associations — one who could easily be perceived as giving an unfair advantage to certain constituencies regarding the release of this information (or possibly even manipulating the presentation of the data itself to paint a more flattering view of the administration’s job creation efforts).

One of the most glaring ideological markers in Groshen’s background is her choice to send at least one of her children to Camp Kinderland — a communist-founded institution that used Soviet symbols and sang Soviet anthems during the mid-20th century while urging its members to “vote communist.”

Camp Kinderland’s own website brags that it, “is true to the vision of its founders,” so it is no surprise that its leftist advocacy continues to this day. The Camp mobilized dozens of campers, staff and alumni to participate in the Occupy Wall Street events — which their newsletter referred to as an opportunity for its supporters to “raise their voices and declare the power of the 99 percent.”



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


21 July, 2012

Leftist stupidity about youth wages

Comment from Australia

Are lower youth wages a form of `age discrimination' in the workplace? Yes, according to three panellists at the NSW Young Labor conference on Sunday.

The ALP is considering abolishing youth wages so that workers between 18 and 21 years would receive the same minimum wage as adults. The argument that most resonated with the predominantly young audience was equal pay for equal work - the premise being that a young employee doing the same work as an adult should be paid the same wage as the adult. The fact that youth are paid less is age discrimination.

This argument does make sense at an intuitive level. Why should people doing the same work be paid different wages?

First, although young workers do the same work as adults, their productivity and competency levels differ. Adult employees are on average more productive and ought to command a higher wage. If young workers really were as productive as adults, then their wage would have risen to the adult wage. The fact that this hasn't happened is telling.

The second reason - risk - is far more important but most often overlooked. Although there are exceptions, young workers are on average less experienced, less mature, and less responsible than their adult counterparts. They are also less accustomed to the demands and responsibilities of working life. I was a young worker until not too long ago and know this from my own experience.

Young workers represent a higher risk to employers. If employers had to pay young and adult workers the same wage without receiving adequate compensation for taking the higher risk, they would have no incentive to hire a young worker.

Young workers should be careful what they wish for. Abolishing youth wages effectively denies young workers the most effective weapon they have - lower wages - to compete against adults. Denying themselves this weapon means denying themselves a job.



Obama didn't mean what he said? Really?

The latest spin is that when President Barack Obama put his foot in his mouth saying: "If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen," he didn't really mean it.

Yeah, and if you believe that, you probably think he was talking about voluntary charitable donations when he said, "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

The spinsters attempting to contain the damage the president did to himself by being honest about what he thinks, say his most recent comments didn't refer to "a business," but something he said earlier in that speech. Here are his words in longer context:

"Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business, you didn't build that."

From that we are to conclude "that" referred back to "roads and bridges," not "a business."

There are problems with this conclusion from these plain words. The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto explains the most glaring of the problems with that strained interpretation:
"That's bunk, and not only because `business' is more proximate to the pronoun `that' and therefore its more likely antecedent. The [Obama] Truth Team's interpretation is ungrammatical. `Roads and bridges' is plural; `that' is singular. If the Team is right about Obama's meaning, he should have said, `You didn't build those.'

"Barack Obama is supposed to be the World's Greatest Orator, the smartest man in the world. Yet his campaign asks us to believe he is not even competent to construct a sentence."

It's always fun to catch politicians actually saying what they believe. Then it's even greater fun watching them skin back to repair the damage. It's more fun yet when the excuse-making has to make the pol look dumb on top of it all.



In New Zealand, Farmers Don't Want Subsidies

Every five years or so, members of Congress from rural areas team up to push through a costly extension of farm programs. They are at it again this year. The Senate recently passed legislation to keep billions of dollars in subsidies flowing to farm businesses, and the House just passed a similarly bloated bill out of committee.

Farm bills are an inside game. Politicians never give the public a good reason why U.S. agriculture needs to be coddled by the government. Members of Congress focus on grabbing more subsidies for home-state farmers, and they rarely discuss or debate whether all this federal aid is really needed.

It isn't needed. New Zealand's farm reforms of the 1980s dramatically illustrate the point. Faced with a budget crisis, New Zealand's government decided to eliminate nearly all farm subsidies. That was a dramatic reform because New Zealand farmers had enjoyed high levels of aid and the country's economy is more dependent on agriculture than is the U.S. economy.

Despite initial protests, farm subsidies were repealed in 1984. Almost 30 different production subsidies and export incentives were ended. Did that cause a mass exodus from agriculture and an end to family farms? Not at all. It did create a tough transition period for some farmers, but large numbers of them did not walk off their land as had been predicted. Just one percent of the country's farmers could not adjust and were forced out.

The vast majority of New Zealand farmers proved to be skilled entrepreneurs - they restructured their operations, explored new markets, and returned to profitability. Today, New Zealand's farming sector is more dynamic than ever, and the nation's farmers are proud to be prospering without government hand-outs.

Prior to the 1984 reforms, subsidies stifled farm productivity by distorting market signals and blocking innovation. Many farmers were farming for the sake of the subsidies. For example, nearly 40 percent of the average New Zealand sheep and beef farmer's gross income came from government aid.

When the subsidies were removed, it turned out to be a catalyst for productivity gains. New Zealand farmers cut costs, diversified their land use, sought nonfarm income, and developed new products. Farmers became more focused on pursuing activities that made good business sense.

Official data supports on-the-ground evidence that New Zealand greatly improved its farming efficiency after the reforms. Measured agricultural productivity had been stagnant in the years prior to the reforms, but since the reforms productivity has grown substantially faster in agriculture than in the New Zealand economy as a whole.

Since the reforms, agriculture's contribution to New Zealand's economy has remained steady at about 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Adding activities outside the farm gate, such as processing of milk, meat and wool, agriculture is estimated to contribute over 15 percent of GDP. By contrast, agriculture's share of the economy has fallen in many other industrial countries.

With the removal of subsidies in New Zealand, agricultural practices are driven by the demands of consumers, not by efforts to maximize the receipt of subsidies. At the same time, the whole agricultural supply chain has improved its efficiency and food safety has become paramount. Businesses that deliver inputs to farming have had to reduce their costs because farmers have insisted on greater value for money.

More efficient agricultural production in New Zealand has also spurred better environmental management. Cutting farm subsidies, for example, has reduced the previous overuse of fertilizer. And cutting subsidies has broadened farm operations to encompass activities such as rural tourism that bring management of the rural environment to the fore.

The message to American farmers is that subsidy cuts should be embraced, not feared. After subsidy cuts, U.S. farmers would no doubt prove their entrepreneurial skills by innovating in a myriad of ways, as New Zealand farmers did. And we suspect that - like New Zealand farmers - American farmers would become proud of their new independence, and have little interest in going back on the taxpayer gravy train.

Now would be a great time for America to embrace Kiwi-style reforms because commodity prices are high and U.S. farm finances are generally in good shape. It's true that weather conditions and markets create ups and downs for agriculture, but over the long run, global population growth will likely sustain high demand for farm products. Some people claim that America needs to subsidize because other countries do. But unsubsidized New Zealand farming is globally competitive, with about 90 percent of the country's farm output exported.

The removal of farm subsidies in New Zealand gave birth to a vibrant, diversified, and growing rural economy, and it debunked the myth that farming cannot prosper without subsidies. Thus rather than passing another big government farm bill that taxpayers can't afford, the U.S. Congress should step back and explore the proven alternative of free market farming.



Why medical care costs so much

One reason medical care costs so much because patients pay so little for it directly. Most Americans' health coverage is not real insurance, which covers large unexpected expenses. It's really prepaid medicine that also covers small predictable expenses. The tax code is the main culprit. It punishes cash payment for medical care and rewards payment through insurance. Medicaid and Medicare are also prepaid medical plans.

Costs soar because patients are consumers, but not paying customers. Like business travelers dining on their employers' expense accounts, patients are largely insulated from medical costs, and hence pay scant attention to price. For example, if a doctor recommends a high-end treatment, a patient has little incentive to inquire about its necessity or the availability of lower cost alternatives. [An example: CT scans are sometimes used where an x-ray would do -- but CT-scans are 4 times more expensive -- JR]

Costs stay low when patients pay, rather than when insurers or government health plans pay. For example, The Guttmacher Institute reports that 57% of abortion patients pay out-of-pocket, while abortion prices have been fairly constant for decades.

Real health insurance can save money - for example - high-deductible insurance combined with Health Savings Accounts for out-of-pocket medical expenses. Such "plans can produce significant (even substantial) savings without adversely affecting member health status," reported the American Academy of Actuaries. The RAND Health Insurance Experiment reached similar conclusions.

But so-called "reform" does not address these problems. Rather, it entrenches them by mandating costly health plan benefits, limiting tax-exempt medical purchases, and threatening to ban high-deductible insurance policies.



The Speech Mitt Romney Should Give But Won't

My fellow Americans,

I have been the target of numerous charges by my opponent in recent weeks. Rather than repeat them, I will simply say this:

I will not apologize for my legitimately earned wealth. I will not apologize for finding legal ways to reduce the burden from the wealth-destroying, job-killing, innovation-reducing, and poverty-creating monstrosity called the US tax code.

I will not apologize for working for a company that made numerous other companies more efficient and, in doing so, freed capital and labor to more productive uses that have enriched this nation. Would my opponent prefer that we stagnate in the jobs and lower standard of living of a generation ago?

I will not apologize for working for a company that provided jobs in poorer parts of the world for people who desperately need better opportunities. Would my opponent prefer that they continue in poverty and starvation?

Whether or not you think my job history is relevant to my qualifications for president, know this: the events of the last few weeks have reinforced my determination to defend wealth earned legitimately through the mutually-beneficial exchanges of a genuinely free market and to condemn wealth made through cronyism, corporatism, and political connections.

When my opponent reveals so glaringly his inability to understand the source of the wealth that has, in only 200 years, raised humanity from the muck and mire of thousands of years of poverty, disease, and death, we all now know what the stakes are in the next few months. I therefore pledge that if I am elected my number one priority will be to reduce the size and scope of government and free the American people to provide for each other through the market and keep the wealth they have thereby legitimately earned. That is the path not just to recovering from the recession that decades of government intervention has produced, but to the long run prosperity of all Americans, especially the least well-off among us

My opponent is right in saying no one does it alone. He is wrong in thinking that is a condemnation of free markets and legitimately accumulated wealth. Markets are the most extensive and profound process of human cooperation we have ever discovered. The way to ensure that such cooperation continues peacefully and with mutual benefit is to allow people to try (and fail!) through the market to provide what others want and to keep the wealth they thereby earn, and to face the consequences of failure. Free markets are human cooperation; government redistribution is not cooperation, it is coercion. The justification for the wealth earned in the market is not that people do it alone. It is instead that allowing people to become wealthy by selling what others want to buy is the best way to ensure peaceful social cooperation and to improve the lives of the least well off.

You can vote for the reactionary forces of economic stagnation, and thereby continue to condemn millions to their current unemployment and poverty, by re-electing the man who has presided over the continued decline in the US economy, or you can vote for the progressive, liberating, and enriching forces of the freed market. You can vote for those who would condemn the wealth that enriches us all and who prefer the wealth that comes from political connections and cronyism, or you can vote for those who understand that in a real market, the wealthy become so by providing for others.

My opponent has staked out his position and I am now staking out mine. The choice has never been more clear, or more stark.




Report from an underwater wasteland: "Not only are there thousands of individuals not paying their mortgages, but, according to a local appraiser, plenty of commercial tenants have not steadily paid rent since the city's real estate crash. In some cases the landlord will let a tenant slide just to show activity in a center. In other cases, the landlord quit paying its lender, and in turn, quit collecting rent. Eventually the foreclosing lender appoints a receiver, who often just collects whatever a tenant can scrounge up at the moment."

Health care is still not a "right": "There is no right to health care. Period. There never has been. You have no inherent right to demand someone else use their skills, time and assets to service your health. You certainly have the right to negotiate and reach a voluntary agreement (see liberty) with health care providers based on a mutual exchange of value (see property). But 'right' -- no."

The costs of employment regulations: "Employers are just so beastly, aren't they? Attempting to get around their responsibilities to the workers. Why, some of them even decide to hire temporary workers instead of loading up on full time long term peeps that they have to pay extra costs to employ!"


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


20 July, 2012

Is the female of the species really more intelligent than the male?

New research into IQ levels could end the modern taboo on comparing cleverness, says Michael Hanlon

We accept that some people are taller than others, or darker- or lighter-skinned, or better at running. We also accept that these differences are due, at least in part, to genetics. Yet there is one area where we continue to insist that there cannot be any innate biological distinction between different people, or groups of people, and that is in our minds. The merest suggestion that there may be hard-wired disparities in intelligence causes the most terrible wailing and gnashing of teeth, even though such physical and mental variations – dictated by genes and environment – are exactly what you would expect in an abundant species that has adapted to just about every corner of the globe.

That taboo, however, may be breaking down. In his new book, the brilliant psychologist James Flynn, of Otago University in New Zealand, has revealed that, for the first time, women (in some developed countries) are systematically outperforming men in standardised tests of intelligence. This contradicts earlier findings which suggested that, historically, men have had IQs that were a couple of points higher – or rather, have performed marginally better on a whole slew of intelligence metrics, which measure subtly different things.

The reaction to this finding has been largely positive. Most reports have concentrated on women’s ability to “juggle” and to “multi-task”, with the conclusion: “Didn’t we know this all along?” Expect to hear the old clarion call of “men are redundant”, with the human male reduced to a shambling, knuckle-dragging brute lost in a sea of feminised modernity.

Imagine, however, that Flynn had found the opposite. Suppose that his trawl of standardised measures of intelligence in schoolchildren and young adults, in countries as disparate as Estonia, Argentina, Israel and New Zealand, had confirmed, once and for all, that men had slightly higher IQs. Would that finding be celebrated?

Of course not. Howling columnists would queue up to pour scorn on the very notion, stating that the idea of innate sex differences in IQ is utterly chauvinist. Others would take issue with the whole notion of measured intelligence: “What is IQ,” they would ask, “but a measure of the ability to do intelligence tests?”

Either way, it is important to stress that the differences we are talking about are very small, a percentage point or two at most – and whatever the truth, it’s not as though we can do much about it. The more interesting question is not whether women are cleverer than men, but why this should be so, and why this seems to be a recent trend.

First, we have to dismiss the pernicious but persistent fallacy that IQ is meaningless. The tests used today attempt to measure something called g, a measure of innate general intelligence that is divorced, as far as possible, from cultural and social bias. Thus questions tend to involve not word associations (which are influenced by your level of literacy and knowledge) but connections between patterns and shapes, order and structure.

Most psychologists now accept that while IQ (or g) may not be a measure of pure intelligence per se, it is certainly a measure of something that correlates very well with it. People with high IQs tend to end up with better qualifications, better jobs, higher earnings and longer lives. Crucially, they are also perceived as “cleverer”. Like it or not, being a successful human has a lot to do with being smart – and IQ, or g, does seem to be a fair measure of smartness.

This brings us to one of the most interesting – and scientifically counter-intuitive – findings to have emerged in the last 100 years: namely, that we are all, men and women alike, getting brighter.

The trend was discovered by, and named after, Flynn himself back in the 1980s. In industrialised countries, both adults and children are routinely subjected to various IQ measurements. And, since such testing began in the first half of the 20th century, the average IQ of both sexes has risen by between 10 and 20 per cent. Every few years, the tests had to be revised to make sure that the average score remained at 100 – and in every country, that revision meant making the tests harder.

This means that if a British child scores 100 on an IQ test set in 2012, he would score 110 or so on a test dating from the 1970s. In some countries, such as the Netherlands, where the Flynn Effect was first spotted, the increase has been even more spectacular – a full 30 IQ points between 1950 and 1980. Overall, IQ in both industrialised and developing nations is rising by about three points per decade.

For years, the cause of the Flynn Effect was a mystery. One thing it could not be was genetic: the effect is happening too fast for any form of evolution to be occurring. Better diet was a popular theory, but places like the US, Canada and Scandinavia have been well-fed for a century or more. Education may have been a factor – but again, the increases continued well into the era of compulsory universal schooling in most countries.

In the end, it was Flynn himself who solved the mystery. The effect, he argued, is not due to innate changes in our brains, but to how they react to the sort of problems that define the modern world. Flynn gives an example: “If I were to have asked my father, say, 'What do a dog and a rabbit have in common?’ and then ask the same question today of a bright schoolchild, I would get two answers.” His father, like most “old-fashioned” people (Flynn is in his eighties, so his father was a product of the 19th century) would look for associations. “Dogs hunt rabbits,” he might have said – which is not wrong, but nor is it the answer to the question.

Today, any schoolchild would give the “right” answer, namely: “they are both animals” or “they are both mammals”. Flynn’s point is that until recently, this categorising of the world, putting things into boxes – mammals or not-mammals, dollars or pounds, Apples or PCs – was not the way people thought. In this sense IQ, or rather differences in IQ, may not be so much a measure of intelligence as of modernity.

It is this that may give us a clue as to why women are not only catching up with men but, in some places, starting to overtake them. There may be something innate about the way women’s brains are put together (or the demands placed upon them) that allows them to cope with complexity and the need to systematise. As Prof Flynn said at the weekend: “In the last 100 years the IQ scores of both men and women have risen, but women’s have risen faster. This is a consequence of modernity. The complexity of the modern world is making our brains adapt and raising our IQ.”

Many mysteries remain about human intelligence. Will the Flynn Effect continue, so that our grandchildren look down upon us as barely sentient dullards? Or will it go into reverse, as dysgenic effects (the fact that people with lower IQs tend to have more children) take over? Will the developing world continue to catch up with the old industrialised world? Why do men continue to outperform women in intelligence tests in non-industrialised societies?

Some of this research may be controversial. After all, if talking about sex and IQ is tricky, talking about race and IQ is incendiary: as with high-IQ women, we are generally happy to talk about certain ethnic groups (such as some Jewish populations) having high IQs, but less happy with the corollary, namely that others are less well endowed.

Yet in an increasingly knowledge-driven world, where brains are more important than brawn to a degree never seen before, we need to understand these differences, if for no other reason than to help raise everyone to their potential. Being scared to talk about it is – well, just stupid.


The above article is informative and well-argued and it is pleasing to note that it appeared in a major British newspaper. On some matters of detail, however, I have to differ.

Flynn's argument that we have only recently started to categorize is absurd. Every noun in our language stands for a category of things. Categorization is a central human survival strategy. It enables us to make predictions and thus protect our futures to some extent. Even cavemen would have readily detected the difference between a dog and a rabbit, for instance (to use the example above). Their hunting trips would have had little success otherwise. Expecting a rabbit to help you bring down prey would be pretty futile.

So what alternative do I offer to Flynn's explanation? I agree with him that modernity generally is the explanation but I differ on which aspects of modernity are involved. One aspect is increasing test sophistication. As education has become more widespread and extended into the late teens, kids have developed strategies for passing tests (guessing when uncertain, for instance) and those strategies help with IQ tests too. A test of that explanation is that the rise in IQ should now be levelling off as just about everybody now is exposed to a lot of education. And that does indeed appear to be happening in some countries. The Flynn effect appears to be fading. IQ levels seem to be approaching an asymptote, in statisticians' terms.

But there are other aspects of modernity that are presumably important too -- improved peri-natal care, for instance and also childbirth itself. Babies can quite easily be brain-damaged to varying degrees during birth and the much increased use of episiotomies and Caesarians would obviate a lot of that. So more babies are born with their brains functioning to their maximum potential.

So what do I make of the current slightly higher scores of women in some countries? For a start, it is perfectly easy to design a test that will show either sex as brighter. Women have better verbal skills and men have better visuo/spatial skills so if you want to show women as brighter you put in more verbal questions and if you want to show men as brighter you put in fewer verbal questions. So it is possible that recent re-standardizations of tests have added more items in areas that women are good at.

Another possibility is the way the educational system has become anti-male, with female characteristics praised and male characteristics deplored. This has led to extensive alienation of young males and a much higher educational dropout rate among them. In such circumstances, then, males get on average less opportinity to acquire that test sophistication I referred to above. We live in a feminized environment generally, in fact, compared to (say) 100 years ago so there may be many ways in which females are subtly advantaged.

The important point, however, is to recognize that people do differ in many ways and that, like it or not, IQ is one difference that affects a lot of things that we value. High IQ, for instance, is associated with greater wealth and better health while low IQ is associated with higher levels of crime and greater poverty. -- JR


Fatal Misstep for Obama as he abolishes work requirement for welfare recipients

Until this week, the Obama campaign's strategy of interest group payoffs and demonization of Romney seemed, if tawdry, at least a possible route to re-election. The president's promises to deliver more and more "free" stuff for carefully selected grantees -- adorned in the language of sticking up for the "middle class" -- appeared to have a chance of success.

But the decision to embrace one of the least popular Democratic positions of the past 100 years -- opposition to the work requirement for welfare recipients -- is inexplicable politically. It's also illegal and imperious. Let's stick with politics, because it's old news that Obama has contempt for the rule of law. He's declined to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed" on many subjects: immigration, the Defense of Marriage Act, labor laws and environmental rules, among others. Those were lawless but politically logical acts. Not this.

Welfare policies (along with weakness on defense and crime) had been a vulnerability for Democrats throughout the 1970s and 1980s -- an Achilles heel that Bill Clinton recognized in 1992. His promise to "end welfare as we know it" was the gravamen of his claim to "new Democrat" status. Once safely elected, Clinton downgraded welfare reform, and, in fact, increased funding for all of the traditional welfare programs in the federal budget. But when Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives in 1994, they took the initiative. By 1996, after vetoing two welfare reform bills, Clinton was advised by Dick Morris that if didn't sign the legislation, he wouldn't be re-elected; it was that important to voters. Immediately after signing the bill, Clinton's approval rating on welfare jumped by 19 points.

The law changed the old AFDC, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, to TANF, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. In place of the open-ended entitlement to benefits for unmarried women and their children, the law imposed a five-year limit and the requirement that those able to work seek employment. In 2005, the work requirements were strengthened.

The prospect of asking welfare recipients to seek work struck most liberals in 1996 (including Obama) as degrading, cruel and doomed to failure. Three high-ranking Clinton administration officials resigned in protest. The New York Times called the reform "atrocious," objecting that "This is not reform, this is punishment." Tom Brokaw, interviewing the president, said "all the projections show that ... (the reform) will push, at least short term, more than a million youngsters ... below the poverty line." The Children's Defense Fund called the law "an outrage ... that will hurt and impoverish millions of American children ... and leave a moral blot on (Clinton's) presidency." Sen. Daniel P. Moynihan called the law "the most brutal act of social policy we have known since the Reconstruction. ... In five years' time, you'll find appearing on your streets abandoned children ... in numbers we have no idea." Sen. Edward Kennedy, with characteristic understatement, called the bill "legislative child abuse."

Well, what really happened? Welfare caseloads declined by 50 percent within four years of the law's passage and by 70 percent by the time Obama took office. The overwhelming majority of those who left welfare rolls did so because they found jobs -- and not just the worst jobs, either. By 2001, a Manhattan Institute study found, only 4 percent of former welfare mothers were earning minimum wage. The poverty rate declined from 13.8 percent in 1995 to 11.7 percent in 2003. Black child poverty dropped to its lowest levels in history. Childhood hunger was cut in half. It was the greatest social policy success of the past 50 years.

Yes, the late 1990s were boom years for the economy. So had the 1960s and 1980s been. Yet welfare rolls increased during those previous expansions.

Why did Obama do it? Why issue new regulations from the Department of Health and Human Services (in bold violation of the law) granting waivers to states to alter work requirements? Obama's election notwithstanding, there is little reason to think that the nation has moved left on the welfare issue. Most working Americans, including most poor Americans, believe that paying people for idleness is wrong.

Obama is trying to persuade Americans that while he has expanded food stamps to unprecedented levels, extended unemployment insurance to 99 weeks, vastly increased the already overwhelmed Medicaid program, created a new trillion dollar entitlement with Obamacare and expanded the size of the federal government to a percentage of gross domestic product not seen since World War II, that he is not the dependency president. By stepping back into history to embrace the Democrats' nemesis -- unrestricted welfare -- he has clinched the argument for the opposition.



83% Support Work Requirements for Welfare Beneficiaries

Good call, Mr. President

Most Americans think there are too many people on welfare who should not be getting it and believe overwhelmingly that those who do receive welfare benefits should be required to work.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 83% of American Adults favor a work requirement as a condition for receiving welfare aid. Just seven percent (7%) oppose such a requirement, while 10% are undecided. Support for a work requirement is slightly higher among those who personally know someone who is receiving welfare benefits.

In other words, only 7 percent of those polled in the Rasmussen survey would support the Obama administration’s directive to “gut” President Clinton’s welfare reform law. Wonderful. Incidentally, Guy wrote about this topic yesterday, speculating why the White House -- in the middle of an election year -- would single-handedly unravel a hugely successful (bipartisan) compromise that Americans overwhelming support. (Click through and draw your own conclusions, but his analysis certainly makes sense). More to the point, though, could the president be any more out of touch? He’s made an alarming amount of “gaffes” over the last few months, none of which were more galling than when he actually asserted – to an audience of entrepreneurs, mind you -- that “if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own.” Smart.

Unsurprisingly, his comments have sparked genuine outrage across the country to the point where even Mitt Romney seems fired up. Tim Pawlenty, a campaign surrogate rumored to be on the governor's VP shortlist, released this succinct statement earlier today.
Mitt Romney’s got a very different view that features the private sector and entrepreneurial activity. The President’s comments the other day were stunning, they were jarring, saying that businesses didn’t contribute or didn’t do it themselves or words to that effect. Let’s debate those two competing visions for the future of this great nation and quit messing around with these collateral issues.

And so it begins?



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


19 July, 2012

Why Are Conservatives Happier Than Liberals?

By Jaime L. Napier and John T. Jost

I commented briefly on the study bearing the title above yesterday (See here) but I thought a few more comments showing what rubbish it is might be in order. It is of course an attempt to show that conservatives are happy for discreditable reasons.

They started out in their study 1 conflating ideology and party preference. They found that rating yourself as conservative and as a Republican were "highly correlated". But that is nonsense. Lots of conservatives think that the GOP is comprised mainly of weak-kneed compromisers etc. And the study data actually showed that. The correlation between the two variables was .46, which meant that the two variables had only a quarter overlap (shared variance). But Napier & Co simply added scores on the two variables up, to create an artificial conservatism score, when the two variables should clearly have been treated separately

And it gets worse. They found that the correlation between conservatism and happiness could be accounted for by "rationalization of inequality". So how do they measure rationalization of inequality? By the mean of responses to six antiegalitarianism items, e.g. "It is not really that big a problem if some people have more of a chance in life than others," and "This country would be better off if we worried less about how equal people are").

But equality is the great mantra of the Left. Conservatives think it is unattainable and undesirable nonsense. So it is no wonder that a measure of it correlated (negatively) with conservatism. It is itself a (negative) measure of conservatism. So what Napier & Co did was remove the influence of one measure of conservatism from the influence of another measure of conservatism! What sense does that make? None that I can see. Doing so certainly explains nothing. So much for their Study 1.

There are other criticisms that I could make but while I have the energy, let me go on to their study 2. The big finding there was that conservatives "endorsed meritocracy". But how was that measured?
Endorsement of meritocracy was measured with a single item; participants rated their beliefs on a scale ranging from 1 (hard work doesn’t generally bring success—it’s more a matter of luck) to 10 (in the long run, hard work usually brings a better life)

I would have thought that the question endorsed hard work rather than "meritocracy"! What a simpleton I must be. I would have thought that to support meritocracy, you would be saying things like: "Only highly educated people should have the vote". So once again Napier & Co draw extravagant inferences from their very limited data. Far from being meritocratic, conservatives simply believe in the virtue of hard work. Is that any surprise or any disgrace? Not as far as I can see.

I will leave my criticisms there, not because there are no more to make but instead because it is rather boring to flog a dead horse.


A Letter to Young Voters

Why are older people more conservative?

According to conventional wisdom, the older the person, the less young people are inclined to listen to him or her. This is probably true for some of you. But I do not believe that it is true for most of you.

Most young people have tremendous respect for older people's views. I saw this firsthand in my own life. I began lecturing publicly at the age of 21, and I give you my word that young people (and certainly older people) are far more respectful of my views today than when I was their age. All things being equal, it is very rare for a 25 or 35-year-old to command the respect that a 50 or 60-year-old commands.

So, I am not afraid that that you will dismiss what I have to say here as the irrelevant thoughts of an older person.

But just in case you need an argument to take an older person's thoughts seriously, ask any adults you respect whether they have more wisdom and insight into life now than they did ten years ago, let alone when they were your age. The answer will always be yes. (And any adult who has not gained wisdom over the course of a lifetime is not worth listening to.)

Which directly leads to my point: Did you ever wonder why people are far more likely to become conservative in their views and values as they get older?

When this rather devastating question is posed to liberals, leftists, progressives, Democrats -- you choose the label or group -- they answer that people get more selfish as they get older.

Progressives have to give this answer. There is no other response that enables them to avoid confronting the quite embarrassing fact that just about every adult, at every age of life, thinks he/she is wiser than when younger -- and as they accumulate wisdom they become more conservative.

So the liberal explanation -- that people get more selfish as they get older -- is not only insulting but also nonsense.

People get worse as they get older?

If you were walking in a dark alley at midnight, which would you fear more -- a group of teenagers or twenty-somethings or a group of senior citizens?

Do older people or younger people give more of their time to charitable institutions?

Are our prisons filled with young people or old people?

The fact is that not only do people get more wise and more conservative as they get older, they get more kind and more generous, too.

But what about "idealism?" We are told that young people are more "idealistic" than old people.

Let me respond by asking: What does "idealistic" mean?

Presumably it means having ideals -- a kinder, more peaceful world, etc. Well, who told you that as people get older they lose these ideals? This is so untrue as to constitute a lie. If anything, we older people yearn for a peaceful world even more than young people do. We are the ones who lost friends or relatives in some war. We are the ones who have lived a lifetime of seeing and reading about human suffering. And, we, not you, have children and grandchildren whom we ache to see alive and healthy.

So, let's put to rest the self-serving myth that young people have greater ideals than old people.

What the term "more idealistic" really means when applied to young people is that young people are more naive, not more idealistic, than older people.

Examples are legion. Here's one: Young people believe that when the government gives more money and benefits to more people, it helps them. This is naive. As you get older and wiser, you realize that when people are given anything without having to earn it (unless they are physically or mentally incapable of earning anything), they become ungrateful and lazy. They also become less happy. Every study shows that people who earn money are far happier than people who win many millions of dollars in a lottery. Happiness is earned, not given.

Here's another: Young people are far more likely to believe that world peace is achieved when nations lay down their arms and talk through their differences. But this has never been the case. Of course, good nations stay peaceful when they talk to other good nations. Bad nations -- that is, nations ruled by evil men -- are never dissuaded from making war by talk. They are dissuaded only by good nations having more arms than they do. That is why the Marine Corps has done so much more for world peace than the Peace Corps.

If you want to vote Democrat, don't do so because that is the party that cares more for the poor and the hungry. We older conservatives (and young ones, too) care just as much for the poor. But after living a life of seeing the naive only make things worse for the poor, we are no longer seduced by caring rhetoric. We are seduced by policies based on the awesome American value of individual initiative combined with liberty to create and retain wealth. It's now called conservatism.

And, finally, you should know this: the "idealists" that many of you find appealing are the ones leaving you with a national debt that will render it very difficult for you to attain the material quality of life that these people have had.

The next time President Obama goes to a college to get your vote by promising you more and more benefits, ask him where the money will come from. And when he says "higher taxes on the wealthy," know that this is exactly what they tried in Europe, a continent ruined by such "idealism."



Congratulations, Mr Obama: Canada now Richer Than U.S.

On July 1, Canada Day, Canadians awoke to a startling, if pleasant, piece of news: For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American.

According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.

A few days later, Canada and the U.S. both released the latest job figures. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, again, to 7.2 percent, and America’s was a stagnant 8.2 percent. Canada continues to thrive while the U.S. struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair.

The difference grows starker by the month: The Canadian system is working; the American system is not. And it’s not just Canadians who are noticing. As Iceland considers switching to a currency other than the krona, its leaders’ primary focus of interest is the loonie -- the Canadian dollar.

As a study recently published in the New York University Law Review pointed out, national constitutions based on the American model are quickly disappearing. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in an interview on Egyptian television, admitted, “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” The natural replacement? The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, achieving the status of legal superstar as it reaches its 30th birthday.

Canadian Luck

Good politics do not account entirely for recent economic triumphs. Luck has played a major part. The Alberta tar sands -- an environmental catastrophe in waiting -- are the third-largest oil reserves in the world, and if America is too squeamish to buy our filthy energy, there’s always China. We also have softwood lumber, potash and other natural resources in abundance.

Policy has played a significant part as well, though. Both liberals and conservatives in the U.S. have tried to use the Canadian example to promote their arguments: The left says Canada shows the rewards of financial regulation and socialism, while the right likes to vaunt the brutal cuts made to Canadian social programs in the 1990s, which set the stage for economic recovery.

The truth is that both sides are right. Since the 1990s, Canada has pursued a hardheaded (even ruthless), fiscally conservative form of socialism. Its originator was Paul Martin, who was finance minister for most of the ’90s, and served a stint as prime minister from 2003 to 2006. Alone among finance ministers in the Group of Eight nations, he “resisted the siren call of deregulation,” in his words, and insisted that the banks tighten their loan-loss and reserve requirements.

He also made a courageous decision not to allow Canadian banks to merge, even though their chief executives claimed they would never be globally competitive unless they did. The stability of Canadian banks and the concomitant stability in the housing market provide the clearest explanation for why Canadians are richer than Americans today.

Martin also slashed funding to social programs. He foresaw that crippling deficits imperiled Canada’s education and health- care systems, which even his Conservative predecessor, Brian Mulroney, described as a “sacred trust.” He cut corporate taxes, too. Growth is required to pay for social programs, and social programs that increase opportunity and social integration are the best way to ensure growth over the long term. Social programs and robust capitalism are not, as so many would have you believe, inherently opposed propositions. Both are required for meaningful national prosperity.

Orderly Fairness

Martin’s balanced policies emerged organically out of Canadian culture, which is fair-minded and rule-following to a fault. The Canadian obsession with order can make for strange politics, at least in an American context. For example, of all the world’s societies, Canada’s is one of the most open to immigrants, as anyone who has been to Toronto or Vancouver will have seen. Yet Canada also imposes a mandatory one-year prison sentence on illegal immigrants, and the majority of Canadians favor deportation. Canadians insist that their compassion be orderly, too.

This immigration policy is neither “liberal” nor “conservative” in the American political sense. It just works. You could say exactly the same thing about Canada’s economic policies.

Canada has been, and always will be, overshadowed by its neighbor, by America’s vastness and its incredible versatility and capacity for reinvention. But occasionally, at key moments, the northern wasteland can surprise. Two hundred years ago last month, the War of 1812 began. Thomas Jefferson declared, “The acquisition of Canada, this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching.” The U.S. was comparatively enormous -- with almost 8 million people, compared with Canada’s 300,000. The Canadians nonetheless turned back the assault.

Through good luck, excellent policy and even some heroism, Canada survived the war. But it has taken 200 years for Canada to become winners.



Remember When Being on the Government Dole Was a Bad Thing?

Doug Giles

When I was a young dork growing up in West Texas in the 70s and 80s, my folks raised me to believe that making good money via righteous and industrious means was actually a good thing—y’know, something to aspire to. Remember that notion?

My folks would point out people in the neighborhood and community who busted their butts and got rewarded for the goods and/or services they provided and would say, “See Johnny, Dougie? Johnny studied. Johnny worked hard and smart, and now Johnny’s rich, and you’re still a weed-smoking dipthong working at a frickin’ gas station high as a kite on Colombian gold.”

Yep, Johnny had a good life. And me, eh … not so much. The reason why? Well, it wasn’t because wealthy fat cats suppressed me. It wasn’t because I wasn’t afforded knowledge (because I was); I just chose to esteem it lightly. In addition, it wasn’t because I didn’t have enough after school government pimped-out programs at my disposal to help my wayward self.

No, my lack was based not on a deficiency of opportunity but primarily because I watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High, thought Spicoli was cool, and ran with that. Yes, I blame Sean Penn. Damn you, Sean Penn.

As Providence would have it, at the ripe old age of 21, I extracted my head from my backside via Christ’s effectual grace, and all the advice my folks gave me regarding knowledge and hard work came rushing back to my bong resin clogged cranium. Call me a late bloomer.

Since I had an affectation for organic stuff, I got into landscaping—planting grass, trees, shrubs, and installing sprinkler systems and custom curbing. I bought a used CJ-7, a crappy trailer, a sod roller, some machetes, rakes, hoes and shovels, and within one year I was doing a solid six figures in sales. No government handouts. No pity money from Christians. No, “woe is me, I used to be a drug addict.” No, “I’m lost and need to get on the government tit.” Nope, I accomplished the aforementioned at a young age via hard work. Just hard work. Nothing but good ol’ hard work.

Yes, children, when I was a wee lad, my parents taught me that taking money from the government when one didn’t truly need it was scummy. Matter of fact, we viewed those who did milk the system as shameful thieves—a veritable affront to what it means to be a man.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


18 July, 2012

Journalist Chris Mooney is feeling his way towards an understanding of the psychology of politics

In his article below he has acknowledged that there are two sides to the debate over the merits and demerits of conservatism and notes that conservatives as a whole are markedly happier than Leftists, which is a considerable step forwards for him. Perhaps the best indication of his naivety is that he sees the debate as going back "well over a decade". In fact it has been going on for over 60 years. He still has a lot of catching up to do.

His basic mistake below is one common throughout science -- interpreting a correlation as if you JUST KNOW the direction of the causal arrow. He assumes that conservatism makes you happy when there is a much stronger case for arguing that happiness makes you conservative.

That is most easily seen if you look at the converse of conservatism: Leftism. What is ABSOLUTELY distinctive about Leftism? Dissatisfaction. They seem to like very little in the world about them and are never satisfied. Regardless of what they have already achieved, they are always wanting to change something -- whether by legislation or by revolution. So conservatives are simply people who don't have such motivations. There are a lot of things that conservatives would like to change -- such as Obamacare and affirmative action, but they don't have that PERVASIVE dissatisfaction with the world about them that Leftists do. In psychological terms, Leftists are maladjusted and conservatives are not.

Poor old Mooney is still relying on the ludicrous Kruglansky work for much of his understanding. One hopes that as he explores the world of psychological research, he realizes what a crock it is. Kruglanski argues that conservatives are less "open", a question that was originally addressed by Rokeach in 1960.

Another energetic proponent of that view is Van Hiel. But nobody has managed to prove what Mooney believes. See here for Van Hiel and here for problems in the work of Rokeach.

Rokeach in particular might be something of an embarrassment to Mooney in that he argued that closed-mindedness is equally found on both the Left and the Right. And research with general population samples using Rokeach's methods bears that out. Given the problems in Rokeach's measurement methods, however, the question is best regarded as unresolved. Mooney would be wise to forget the whole idea.

Since Mooney mentioned it, perhaps a brief comment on the Napier & Jost paper is in order. They conclude that "the relation between political orientation and subjective well-being is mediated by the rationalization of inequality". You could, however, quite reasonably replace the quite loaded psychological term "rationalization" with "acceptance" and get a rather different impression. Once again you find that conservatives are well adjusted to the world as it is and Leftists are not.

Mooney ends up concluding that conservatism is "somnambulant" -- i.e. that conservatives are happy only because they are sleepwalking through the word, unaware of the realities of it. I myself once tried to assess that proposition by constructing a measure of "realism" but gave up because I could see no way of doing it in a non-ideological way. If Mooney has any evidence for his assertion, I would therefore be delighted to see it.
Conservatism makes you happy

In general, political conservatives haven’t been very pleased with a slew of scientific attempts — sometimes dating back well over a decade — to psychoanalyze their beliefs and behavior. Indeed, some on the right wrongly interpret these analyses as implying that conservatives have “bad brains” or a “mental defect.” Yet if psychology-of-politics research is really a veiled attack on the right, then why does it contain so many findings that cast conservatives in a positive light?

Chief among these, perhaps, is the discovery that conservatives, across countries, tend to be just plain happier people than liberals are. That’s not bad news for the right — it’s seriously bad news for the left.

Indeed, the left-right “happiness gap” is no small matter. In a 2006 Pew Survey, for instance, 47 percent of conservative Republicans said they were “very happy,” compared with just 28 percent of liberal Democrats. Furthermore, the Pew Survey found that this result could not simply be attributed to the seemingly obvious cause: differences in income levels between the left and the right. Rather, for every income group in the study, conservative Republicans were happier than Democrats.

The fascinating question is why this is the case. The left-right happiness research was recently singled out in a New York Times op-ed by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, who suggested that conservatives’ subjectively greater sense of personal happiness may be attributable to factors like marriage and religious faith. In other words, married and religious people tend to be happier, and conservatives are more likely to be both. That seems to make a lot of sense … or does it?

In truth, this analysis fails to peer very far beneath the surface. There is every reason to suspect that there may be something deeper, inherent to political conservatives, that makes them more likely to be married, religious, happy and a great deal of other things besides.

What might it be? Well, let’s start with the body of well-documented personality differences between people who opt for the political left, and people who opt for the political right. Using the well-established “Big Five” personality scale, conservatives and liberals differ on at least three out of five major personality traits that have implications for their personal happiness.

First, one striking finding is that conservatives tend to be less neurotic — or, more emotionally stable — than liberals. It is part of the inherent definition of neuroticism that one is less happy — more fretful, more depressed. Liberals, then, don’t just worry about the poor, and the rights of those different from themselves — it appears that they worry more, period, than conservatives do.

Although it has a smaller effect, conservatives also tend toward more extraversion in some personality studies. That means they probably make more friends and feel more comfortable in groups and communities. They’re more sociable. Once again, this probably helps confer a subjective sense of greater happiness.

But perhaps most significant, personality research shows that conservatives tend to be less open, exploratory people than liberals are. Indeed, based on a large body of research by University of Maryland social psychologist Arie Kruglanski, conservatives tend to have a higher “need for cognitive closure,” meaning that they are uncomfortable with ambiguity and prefer to seize on and hold fixed beliefs and views. And if you think being more closed-minded makes you less happy … well, think again. Instead, it appears that the relationship runs in the opposite direction.

The need for closure is often interpreted very negatively — understandably so. But if it has an upside, it may well be the happiness and peace of mind that it confers. Conservatives tend to be more assured in their views and confident in them; thus, they have less need to agonizingly question them. They know their place in the world and aren’t troubled over it. “It’s kind of a peaceful bliss, cognitively speaking,” explains Kruglanski.

Furthermore, the need for closure — for certainty, fixity — may underlie much else about the right. Kruglanski notes, for instance, that there’s a known relationship between closure and religiosity. “Religion or any comprehensive belief system is one that provides you answers to everything — and therefore belief and happiness,” he explains.

Finally, there is the related argument that the conservative tendency to rationalize politically or economically unequal social systems — to overlook how the other half is forced to live, either through simple dismissiveness, or affirmation of the fairness of free markets and meritocracies — also confers happiness. In his New York Times op-ed, Brooks dismissed this argument, associated with New York University social psychologist John Jost, but that’s not so easy to do. In a 2008 study in the journal Psychological Science, Jost and Jaime Napier showed that conservatives were happier than liberals in nine countries beyond the United States (including Germany, Spain and Sweden) — and further demonstrated, through statistical analyses, that the rationalization of inequality was a key part of the explanation. “Meritocratic beliefs account for the association between political orientation and subjective well-being to a signi?cant degree,” wrote Napier and Jost.

The upshot of this research, to my mind, is that it provides a huge wake-up call to liberals who would dismiss conservatism, and their conservative brethren, without understanding this ideology’s appeal or what its adherents are getting out of it. Overall, the happiness research suggests that conservatism is giving something to people that liberalism is not — community, stability, certainty, and perhaps, in Jost’s words, an “emotional buffer” against all the unfairness in the world.

Knowing this, one still may not want the type of somnambulant happiness that conservatism conveys (I certainly don’t). But it would be foolhardy to mistake its appeal. The world is hard and cruel and perhaps, as predominantly liberal atheists suspect, ultimately meaningless. In this context, it appears, political conservatism is doing much more than political liberalism to get people through the day.



'Fundamentally Transforming' the Military

In Lone Survivor, a chilling, firsthand account of the loss of eleven members of the Navy’s elite Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) Team and eight Army aviators, Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell describes the fateful decision that led to disaster for him and death for his comrades. It came down to a judgment call about whether to risk prosecution and jail-time for doing whatever it took to complete their mission, or to allow three Afghan goatherds to rat out his unit to the Taliban.

When Luttrell cast the deciding vote to turn loose the farmers who had stumbled upon him and three other SEALs shortly after they had been dropped behind enemy lines to take down a particularly dangerous Taliban leader, he described the thought-process:

“If we kill these guys, we have to be straight about it. Report what we did. We can't sneak around this….Their bodies will be found, the Taliban will use it to the max. They’ll get it in the papers, and the U.S. liberal media will attack us without mercy. We'll almost certainly be charged with murder….”

Such concerns prompted Luttrell to make the call to release the goatherds, setting in train calamity for his buddies and sixteen others dispatched to rescue them from the massive Taliban assault that ensued. It turns out those concerns were well-founded, as was most recently demonstrated in a case before the U.S. Military Court of Appeals. By a 3-2 vote, the judges outrageously determined that an Army Ranger, First Lieutenant Michael Behenna, was deemed to have no right to self-defense when he killed the Iraqi prisoner he was interrogating after the latter threw a concrete block at him and tried to seize his firearm. Unless he is pardoned, Lt. Behenna will remain incarcerated for the next twelve years.

Unfortunately, under President Obama, service personnel’s rising fears of being prosecuted for acting to protect themselves and their missions are but one of many ways in which themilitary is being, to use his now-infamous turn of phrase, “fundamentally transformed.” Consider a few examples:

* Losing wars: Few things can have a more corrosive effect on morale and esprit de corps of the armed forces than being ordered to participate in and sacrifice – not least by risking life and limb – in protracted conflicts, only to have political authorities throw in the towel. Add in the repeated combat tours pulled by many servicemen and women, with all that entails for both them and their families, and you have a formula for disaster for the U.S. military.

* Budget cuts: Matters are made much worse by the sense that the military is being asked to pay more than its fair share of the burden associated with deficit-reduction. Even though defense spending accounts for approximately 20% of the budget, the Pentagon has been required to absorb roughly 50% of the cuts, while entitlements have been entirely spared.

The roughly $800 billion in defense spending already excised or in the works is denying our men and women in uniform the modern, properly maintained and qualitatively superior equipment they need to wage war safely and successfully on our behalf. The next $500 billion in reductions – which, all other things being equal, are to go into effect in January – will have, in the words Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Demsey, a “catastrophic” effect.

* A defective Counter-Insurgency (COIN) strategy: [As documented in Part 9 of the Center for Security Policy’s online curriculum, “The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy Within” (http://MuslimBrotherhoodinAmerica.com),] the effort to win hearts and minds in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has exposed our troops unnecessarily to danger: They are being obliged not to wear protective eyewear and body armor, at risk literally to life and limb. They are ordered to honor their hosts in visits with local elders by consuming foods offered, despite the fact that doing so can subject them to lifelong affliction by parasites and diseases. They must observe rules of engagement that restrict use of their firearms and deny them air cover and artillery support in circumstances where it can mean the difference between living and dying.

Worse yet, our troops are seen by the enemy in these and other ways to be submitting to the latter’s doctrine of shariah. According to that supremacist code, its adherents are compelled when confronted with evidence they are winning, to redouble their efforts to make us “feel subdued.” This generally translates into more violence against our troops and us, not less.

* Assault on the culture of the Military: Last, but not least, President Obama’s use of the military as a vehicle for advancing the radical homosexual agenda in the larger society has demonstrated for many in uniform civilian indifference to the unique attributes of the armed forces. That message can only have been reinforced by the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing fraudulent claims to military decorations as protected free speech.

Unfortunately, these sorts of assaults on the U.S. military are likely to “fundamentally transform” it, all right. Perhaps that tranformation will manifest itself, among other ways, by precipitating the collapse of the All-Volunteer Force, as many of those who are currently serving decline to do so, and fewer and fewer new, high-quality recruits enlist. We can ill-afford such an Obama legacy in an increasingly dangerous world.



The States need to unite against the Federal behemoth

Congress has invariably sought to expand the reach and power of the federal government through one piece of legislation after another. When challenged, the courts have for the most part upheld said legislation. Then the executive branch goes on to expand federal powers even more through the creation and implementation of regulations. When regulation and promulgation are challenged, the courts, again for the most part, grant their imprimatur. The system has been crafted over a long period and is designed to create, promote and preserve the power of the federal government. The players have little or no desire to restrain themselves. For the most part they are enablers of one another. And partisan bickering is often no more than diversion. Much the same could be said for the “bipartisanship” ruse.

This system, as it stands, is unchallengeable by private citizens or groups. Go along or go to jail … even if you didn’t really break any laws. Few have the time, money and stamina to mount a serious challenge against the federal government in court. And even if you do win, the victory may prove Pyrrhic. Just ask Lord Black. And it doesn’t mean that down the road the government won’t go after some other poor bastard for essentially the same thing. What we have here is a tyranny of, by and for a legal system that to a great extent serves no useful purpose other than to perpetuate itself. That’s why with 5 percent of the world’s population we have 50 percent of the world’s attorneys.

If political constitutionalism is to be anything more than a catch phrase, it will have to be because a substantial majority of the states, with the support and on the behalf of state residents, don the Constitutional defender mantle, and as a group challenge the federal government, i.e., Civil War II. It won’t be pretty, but it need not be bloody. That this is the direction whither we’re moving is indicated by such state actions as Arizona’s illegal alien legislation, Florida’s refusal to stop purging its voter rolls of fraudulent registrants, and several states’ proclamation of their intent to not fully implement Obamacare. That’s probably why Attorney General Eric Holder has been so vigorously challenging these assaults on federal prerogative.

The states would do well to get organized and coordinated. First order of business would be for the state parties, especially the Republicans, to become financially detached from the national party. Without control of their own funds, the state parties cannot act independently of the national. Reincorporating under a different name, for example “Texas Independent Republicans” or a similar moniker may also be necessary. Then, along with the Tea Party, and whoever else is of like mind, get state legislators elected who will vote for the convening of Constitutional Convention II. Without some such bold action I have no faith whatsoever that there will ever be any substantive improvements in the functioning of our government. The Constitution may very well need updating whether or not it’s “living”, but certainly not by the courts or executive orders or the bureaucratic fiats that have, to a large extent, been the case so far. After over 200 years of floating about in briny political and legal seas, the Constitution seems bit barnacle encrusted. Perhaps it’s time to pull it out of the water for a good scraping.

Who knows, we may even end up with a bit of originalism back in our public debate.


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


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


17 July, 2012

America slides back into recession

The Economic Cycle Research Institute in America has doubled down on its recession call. A fresh US slump is not just a risk any longer. It has already begun.

Output slowed to stall speed over the winter. The US economy tipped into outright contraction in the second quarter, even before facing the "fiscal cliff" later this year – tightening of $600bn or 4pc of GDP unless action is taken to stop it.

Nothing serious is yet being done to head off the downward slide. If ECRI is right, the implications for the global system are ugly.

It is never easy to read the signals at inflexion points. Washington is always caught off guard. As ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan says, it took the Lehman collapse ten months into recession in September 2008 to "wake people up".

What we know is that retail sales rolled over in February and broader trade sales peaked in December. Industrial output peaked in April. The nationwide ISM index of manufacturing crashed through the break-even line of 50 in June, just as it did at the onset of the Great Recession in late 2007, but this time at a faster pace.

Job growth has slumped to 75,000 a month over the last three months, too low to stop unemployment rising again to 8.2pc, or 14.9pc on the wider U6 measure.

Albert Edwards from Societe Generale expects the US economy to shrink 2pc this year, leading to a 40pc fall in profits. He says the S&P 500 index of stocks will ultimately plumb fresh secular depths, below the 666 bottom of March 2009.

The Federal Reserve has drifted into fatalism, seeming to lose confidence in its own ability to shape events, displaying the same lack of "Rooseveltian resolve" as the Fed in the early 1930s -- to borrow an expression written years ago by a young Princeton professor, and Fed scourge, called Ben Bernanke.



BOOK REVIEW of Alger Hiss: Why He Chose Treason, by Christina Shelton (Threshold, 352 pp., $26)

That good old Leftist feeling of superiority again, a feeling never far from megalomania

It is unlikely that we ever will have a proper reckoning of the American Left’s culpability in the worldwide Communist enterprise — the gulags and laogai, the Stasi, the Holodomor, the 100 million corpses. It is a testament to the perversity of human nature that in the two main political efforts to uproot Soviet agents from U.S. institutions, the villains in the popular mind are not those who enabled the enslavement of entire nations but the imperfect men who tried to stop them. We never had a Nuremberg trial for Communists — we would have had to hang too many veterans of the Roosevelt administration. Instead, we had the perjury case of Alger Hiss. And we keep having it.

Christina Shelton, a former analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency, has produced a new study of the case. In the course of her rigorous and carefully documented analysis, she offers a persuasive explanation not only of why Hiss chose treason but of why so many others did as well. It is a rare thing: a good book about an important subject.

Shelton’s telling of the story is in a sense Nixonian. Hiss was the archetypal East Coast liberal-establishment man: son of an executive, Johns Hopkins, Harvard Law, a protege of Felix Frankfurter, law clerk to Oliver Wendell Holmes, attorney at Choate, Hall, & Stewart, State Department, United Nations. But Hiss was a member of the most dangerous class: the barely-hanging-on elite. His father’s suicide left the family in a condition that biographer G. Edward White famously described as “shabby gentility.” He was a highly accomplished student but, in the judgment of Whittaker Chambers, a mediocre mind. As a young man, he learned to sneer at business while availing himself of every benefit to be derived from his wealthy and well-connected friends. He was a member of the self-loathing elite.

Like most of his kind, Hiss drew precisely the wrong lesson from the Great Depression — that the state should attempt to manage the economy — and was, like most New Dealers, prepared to endorse extraordinarily authoritarian steps to put that vision into action. Shelton insightfully identifies Hiss’s support of Roosevelt’s court-packing scheme as a critical indicator of his views:
Hiss’s advocacy of bypassing constitutional restraints and his open disregard for both the constitutional principle of separation of powers and for the precedent of an independent, nonpoliticized judiciary are astounding, and symptomatic of his leftist authoritarianism. Using the judiciary as a political instrument of state power is a characteristic feature of both Communist and Fascist regimes. Hiss felt that “we were entitled to think of ourselves — and we most certainly did — as a select few.” This claim by Hiss reflects the recurring elitism of a higher wisdom that is thoroughly embedded in the ideologies of the left: the “enlightened” know best; authoritative leadership is needed to direct the masses; a vanguard is required to advance the revolution; and so on and so forth. Alger saw himself and his colleagues as that vanguard.

Fortunately, she has a hell of a story to tell and many illuminating details and anecdotes to add. Like many liberals of his time, Hiss seems to have been radicalized in part by the Sacco and Vanzetti controversy, and he was drawn quickly to the subversive Left. Early in his career in government, he joined Lee Pressman — who would himself later be outed as a Soviet spy — in defending Franklin Roosevelt’s central-planning ambitions. Throughout Shelton’s telling of the tale, one cannot but notice that Hiss’s fellow traitors not only shared his ideological commitment but were in the main the same sort of people. That latter fact may be of more consequence than the former. The confrontation between Alger Hiss and Richard Nixon exposed a cultural fault line, and those who have been (and remain) sympathetic to Hiss and his ilk seem to do so not out of any sophisticated understanding of Marxist-Leninist doctrine or midcentury history but out of dread of aligning themselves with the loathsome likes of Nixon. It is unsurprising that Hiss, in the decades after his release from prison, found himself enthusiastically welcomed at New York’s New School for Social Research, where, as Shelton reports, he was a regular lecturer, and at other elite institutions, including Brandeis and Columbia. Nixon’s downfall coincided with a refreshed interest in Hiss among liberals.

Hiss gave substantial cooperation, including access to his papers, to historian Allen Weinstein, who began his researches holding the conventional liberal faith in Hiss’s innocence. The evidence convinced him of the contrary, and the publication of his book, Perjury, in 1978 was the occasion for a sustained campaign by The Nation and other leftist outlets to discredit him. Tribal ties are highly resistant to evidence (and apparently immune to shame), and that is why the case of Hiss continues to be newly litigated each generation.

Shelton makes a sledgehammer of a case that this is unnecessary. The strongest section of the book is titled simply “The Evidence,” and it is a sustained artillery assault: the GRU general who fingered Hiss, the U.S. ambassador who warned Roosevelt, the Soviet defectors who knew his secret, Whittaker Chambers and the other turncoats, the KGB operatives, the Communist-party members who plotted alongside Hiss, the U.S. State Department officials who corroborated Chambers’s evidence, the Daily Worker editor, the foreign intelligence operatives: The question has never been Hiss’s word against Chambers’s and the Pumpkin Papers, but Hiss’s word against a large and compelling body of evidence.

That evidence has in recent years been supplemented by the declassified Venona transcripts, by Hungarian intelligence documents, and, most damningly, by KGB documents. “Despite the existence of overwhelming evidence against Hiss,” Shelton writes, “there are still those today who cannot bring themselves to assimilate that evidence and acknowledge that Alger Hiss was a Soviet asset and guilty of espionage. They focus on Hiss’s message, not his actions.” Likewise, they focus on the character defects of Richard Nixon and Joseph McCarthy, apparently unable to distinguish conventional if severe human failings (Nixon’s megalomania, McCarthy’s dipsomania) from the moral depravity of men who were engaged in the greatest campaign of mass murder documented in the history of civilization.

It is just possible to understand the sympathy for Russian Communism in the context of the 1930s and the rise of Nazi Germany. But Hiss’s embrace was a broad and lasting one: As Shelton notes, he was denying the crimes of Mao and Castro as late as 1975. Hiss argued, among other things, that the scale of Mao’s killing must have been exaggerated, since so many Chinese opposed to Communism had left the country as he came to power, and therefore “the problem of liquidation which Mao would have undertaken must have been minimized.” Here Shelton cannot avoid a parenthetical: “Was Hiss really suggesting that Mao killed fewer people because there were less available to kill?” The Chinese who escaped the chairman’s terror are blessed not to have found out.

It is impossible to dispute Shelton’s overall verdict. The word “treason” carries a great deal of emotional weight, a sense of being the worst crime of which one could be guilty. But it is not: Benedict Arnold and Guy Fawkes were traitors — Hermann Goring and Joseph Goebbels were loyal to the end. Hiss and his associates did in fact choose treason, but treason was hardly the worst of their crimes. They chose to further the work of bloody-minded gangsters engaged in the mass extermination of nations and the permanent enslavement of the survivors. To make an average-sized gravestone for each of their victims would require 900 times more marble than was used in the dome of the Taj Mahal. They were the very worst men that modern civilization has produced, abetted by those who may have been among our brightest but were by no means among our best.



Tilting at the U.N. Windmill

Not everything the U.N. does is evil. Some of it is just incompetent

By Jonah Goldberg

Those of us who believe the United States would be best served by pulling out of the United Nations and starting up a more morally and politically serious clubhouse for morally and politically serious nations are often accused of tilting at windmills.

The phrase “tilting at windmills” was inspired by Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, and it means to fight something that doesn’t really deserve to be fought. Quixote mistook the windmills of the Spanish countryside for ravenous giants and set out to vanquish them. (“Tilting” is a jousting expression, in case you didn’t know.)

Well, let’s review some recent evidence.

The U.N. has been working hand-in-glove with the Chinese government to make the Chinese one-child policy as efficient and ruthless as possible. “Our conclusion is that the [United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)] is directly responsible for forced abortions and forced sterilizations in China,” Steven Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute, recently told Congress in prepared testimony.

Of course, not everyone dislikes the one-child policy. Vice President Biden has supported it, and President Obama restored UNFPA’s funding when he took office. So let’s move on.

Lots of people like the Internet, right? Well, good news! The U.N. wants to take it over. The International Telecommunications Union, a U.N. organization, is secretly debating proposals to claim jurisdiction over the Web and take it out of America’s hands. The major forces behind this push: authoritarian regimes eager to censor their domestic Internet and monitor their citizens. Russia and some Arab countries, reports the Wall Street Journal’s Gordon Crovitz, want the power to read private e-mail. Others want to tax cross-border Web traffic. And countries like China are working hard to bribe, bully, or barter votes in favor of the U.N. takeover.
You see, that’s what dictatorships do at the U.N.: work to make the world safe for dictatorships. The most brutal regimes on the planet are constantly trying to get on or game the Human Rights Council so they can spend all of their time condemning Israel and blocking any attempts to censure their own regimes.

Not everything the U.N. does is evil. Some of it is just incompetent. The whole of what passes for the “international community” has been trying to enforce sanctions on Iran and North Korea. But nobody told the U.N.’s intellectual-property agency, it was revealed earlier this month, so they went ahead and gave North Korea and Iran computers and IT equipment.

A few days later, the invaluable human-rights group U.N. Watch reported that Iran was elected to the U.N. Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty, despite having just been declared guilty — in a U.N. Security Council report! — of illegally shipping guns and bombs to Syria.

Speaking of Syria, which is currently violating agreements to not murder its own people, it recently had a big victory at the Human Rights Council. Syria co-sponsored and passed a resolution pushed by Cuba (and supported by the usual Legion of Doom nations) to establish a “Right to Peace.” The document is a lot of boilerplate until you get to the part where it says “all peoples and individuals have the right to resist and oppose oppressive colonial, foreign occupation.” This is Middle East–speak for “It’s okay to blow up Israelis.”

Now these are all just recent news items. But you can play this game any time you want because the U.N. always provides fresh hells for us to marvel and laugh at.

For example, the United Nations website tells us that there is something called the Open-ended Ad Hoc Working Group of the General Assembly on the Integrated and Coordinated Implementation of and Follow-up to the Major United Nations Conferences and Summits in the Economic and Social Fields. Who among us doesn’t sleep better knowing the OAHWGGAICIFMUNCSESF is working for us?

Alas, the U.N. website notes, “The Ad Hoc Working Group was last active during the 57th session of the General Assembly in 2003.” In other words, the ad hoc open-ended working group is so open-ended it hasn’t met in nearly a decade.

But that’s the great thing about the U.N.: It never fails to surprise us with its predictability.

I’m beginning to think the U.N.’s defenders are the Don Quixotes, only in reverse. Where the critics see the reality of the ravenous giant, the U.N.’s defenders can only see a harmless windmill converting hot air for the good of all mankind.



Demokratische Republik of Maryland Demands Pay For No Service!

This is ludicrous:
Some of you will see an extra charge in your next electric bill because Pepco and BGE lost money when they couldn’t charge customers to deliver power during the storm outage....

Only regulators in Maryland allow utilities to recoup lost billings by invoicing customers directly.

“It’s the law,” said Pepco spokesman Bob Hainey. “It’s called bill stabilization.” ...

Officials in the District and Virginia say the utilities can not charge customers for lost billings there – so this is unique to Maryland customers.

It’s called highway robbery. It may be the law, but the fact is there was no power being consumed by millions of people for days and yet, MD allows for them to be charged for no service! Power losses led to water shortages, food losses in refrigerators and freezers, which then led to expensive alternatives like eating out. Thousands were at risk health wise, sanitation issues ‘blossomed’ – and for all this suffering MD consumers are handed the bill?

Can everyone see shades of Obamacare in this life lesson? When the government runs the monopoly, they are free to take from you as they see fit.

In VA there is no such need or requirement. We also have balanced budget, better economic growth and lower unemployment than MD. Wonder why that is?…..



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


16 July, 2012

America's elites once had a degree of honor and committment to standards

Now "There's no such thing as right and wrong"

Through most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Protestant Establishment sat atop the American power structure. A relatively small network of white Protestant men dominated the universities, the world of finance, the local country clubs and even high government service.

Over the past half-century, a more diverse and meritocratic elite has replaced the Protestant Establishment. People are more likely to rise on the basis of grades, test scores, effort and performance.

Yet, as this meritocratic elite has taken over institutions, trust in them has plummeted. It's not even clear that the brainy elite is doing a better job of running them than the old boys' network. Would we say that Wall Street is working better now than it did 60 years ago? Or government? The system is more just, but the outcomes are mixed. The meritocracy has not fulfilled its promise.

Christopher Hayes of MSNBC and The Nation believes that the problem is inherent in the nature of meritocracies. In his book, "Twilight of the Elites," he argues that meritocratic elites may rise on the basis of grades, effort and merit, but, to preserve their status, they become corrupt. They create wildly unequal societies, and then they rig things so that few can climb the ladders behind them. Meritocracy leads to oligarchy.

Hayes points to his own elite training ground, Hunter College High School in New York City. You have to ace an entrance exam to get in, but affluent parents send their kids to rigorous test prep centers and now few poor black and Latino students can get in.

Baseball players get to the major leagues through merit, but then some take enhancement drugs to preserve their status. Financiers work hard to get jobs at the big banks, but then some rig the game for their own mutual benefit.

Far from being the fairest of all systems, he concludes, the meritocracy promotes gigantic inequality and is fundamentally dysfunctional. No wonder institutional failure has been the leitmotif of our age.

It's a challenging argument but wrong. I'd say today's meritocratic elites achieve and preserve their status not mainly by being corrupt but mainly by being ambitious and disciplined. They raise their kids in organized families. They spend enormous amounts of money and time on enrichment. They work much longer hours than people down the income scale, driving their kids to piano lessons and then taking part in conference calls from the waiting room.

Phenomena like the test-prep industry are just the icing on the cake, giving some upper-middle-class applicants a slight edge over other upper-middle-class applicants. The real advantages are much deeper and more honest.

The corruption that has now crept into the world of finance and the other professions is not endemic to meritocracy but to the specific culture of our meritocracy. The problem is that today's meritocratic elites cannot admit to themselves that they are elites.

Everybody thinks they are countercultural rebels, insurgents against the true establishment, which is always somewhere else. This attitude prevails in the Ivy League, in the corporate boardrooms and even at television studios where hosts from Harvard, Stanford and Brown rail against the establishment.

As a result, today's elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys' network did possess. If you went to Groton a century ago, you knew you were privileged. You were taught how morally precarious privilege was and how much responsibility it entailed. You were housed in a spartan 6-foot-by-9-foot cubicle to prepare you for the rigors of leadership.

The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

Today's elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.

If you read the e-mails from the Libor scandal you get the same sensation you get from reading the e-mails in so many recent scandals: these people are brats; they have no sense that they are guardians for an institution the world depends on; they have no consciousness of their larger social role.

The difference between the Hayes view and mine is a bit like the difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution. He wants to upend the social order. I want to keep the current social order, but I want to give it a different ethos and institutions that are more consistent with its existing ideals.



Book review of John C. Goodman's Priceless‏

With the Supreme Court’s recent decision on Obamacare, it’s clear that the only solution to repealing the Affordable Care Act lies in the ballot box. But suppose Americans elect Mitt Romney as president and a Republican Congress in November and they follow through on their promise to repeal Obamacare. Then what? Although we will be rid of a legislative and bureaucratic nightmare, we still will be left with the same dysfunctional health care system that preceded it.

Getting to the free-market health care system we deserve requires first understanding what’s wrong with the current system. In “Priceless: Curing the Health Care Crisis,” health economist John C. Goodman explains the perverse incentives that plague our health care system. In short, the system penalizes us for doing the right things and rewards us for doing the wrong things. The reason is that we are caught in a system of third-party payment that insulates patients from the cost of their care and discourages health care providers from innovating in ways that lower the costs of care while improving its quality.

Mr. Goodman, who is president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, has written about health care for decades. He probably is known best for popularizing the concept of health savings accounts. “Priceless” arguably is his magnum opus, taking on a variety of subjects, including the quality and access problems of our system; the catastrophe that is Obamacare; and the reform of malpractice insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.

But in the context of the current election, “Priceless”proves most useful in explaining why our private health care markets don’t work properly and how to fix them. Because of federal tax law, health insurance provided by an employer is tax-free. This, Mr. Goodman, notes, has “favored third-party insurance against individual self-insurance.” Because health insurance is tax-free and wages are taxed at the marginal rate, employees have an incentive to put as many dollars of benefits as possible into health insurance. This has led to the notion of “ideal heath insurance,” which Mr. Goodman says is insurance “with no deductible or co-payment, making medical care essentially free at the point of delivery.”

But if health insurance pays for all of a patient’s health expenses, the patient has an incentive “to overuse the system, essentially consuming health care until the last amount obtained has a value that approaches zero.” If patients aren’t paying more of their health expenses with their own money, “they’re not likely to shop around for the best buy.”

When patients don’t shop around, health care “providers will not compete for patients based on price. They will have no economic incentive to keep costs low the way producers do in other markets.” Rather, with an insurance company - i.e., a third-party payer - paying their bills, “the incentive of providers will be to maximize against the payment formulas in order to enhance their incomes.”

That, in turn, incentivizes insurance companies to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship in an effort to restrain the amount of care that is used. Ideally, they are able to eliminate primarily unnecessary care. In practice, they go after low-hanging fruit that may or may be not be necessary care. In the process, insurance companies anger both doctors and patients.

To get out of this mess, Mr. Goodman says no change in public policy is “more important than giving patients more control over health care dollars.” But will Republicans follow this principle? Mitt Romney does not inspire confidence. He wants to give individuals the same tax break for health insurance that employees get for buying it through their employer. That only will encourage individuals to buy more insurance than they need, putting more of their dollars under the control of a third-party insurer. In short, it will only exacerbate the problems with the current system.

If Mr. Romney and the rest of the GOP want to get reform right, they should champion Mr. Goodman’s ideas. For starters, Mr. Goodman recommends getting rid of the employer-based tax exclusion for health insurance and replacing it with an individual $2,000 tax credit for health insurance. This would incentivize people to purchase health insurance that covers largely catastrophic costs. If the person spends less than $2,000, the difference is transferred to a health savings account to help pay for small health care expenses.

Mr. Goodman also advocates changing health savings accounts so that it is easier to save for health expenses. First, let anyone who wants an HSA have one, not just those who have high-deductible insurance, as is the case under current law. Second, the money people put into the HSAs is after-tax money, but withdrawals should be tax-free. This would have three important effects: First, it would encourage people to save more money for health expenses. Second, they would become direct purchasers of health care, comparing cost and value. Third, it would incentivize health care providers to innovate and find ways to lower the cost of care while improving quality.

In short, the market for health care would begin to look like the markets for most other services, with consumers in charge and providers competing to give them what they want and need. It’s not too late for the Romney campaign to read “Priceless.”



The Real-World Middle Class Tax Rate: 75%

For those Americans earning between $34,500 and $106,000, the real-world middle class tax burden in high-tax locales is 15% + 25% + 5% + 15% + 15% = 75%. Yes, 75%.

Before you start listing the innumerable caveats and quibbles raised by any discussion of taxes, please hear me out first. Let's start by defining "taxes" as any fee that is mandated by law or legal necessity. In other words, taxes are what is not optional.

If we include all taxes, the real-world tax rate is much higher than the "official" income tax rate. These "other taxes" vary from nation to nation. France, for example, has a "television tax." It is mandatory, and since virtually every household has a TV this operates as a universal tax. The argument that this is "optional" is specious.

In every other advanced democracy, basic universal healthcare is paid by tax revenues. In the U.S., healthcare insurance is "optional" but this too is specious: in the real world, private healthcare insurance is mandatory because the alternative--having zero insurance--places your entire net worth and income at risk of catastrophic loss.

Having no healthcare insurance only makes sense if you have no real assets and a low income. At that point, your care will be provided by the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program, which is the default universal-care program in the U.S.

For this reason I consider the cost of private healthcare insurance in the U.S. the equivalent of a tax. We pay over $12,000 annually for barebones healthcare insurance, which amounts to about 15% of our gross income. Some countries pay for healthcare with a 15% tax, here we pay the 15% directly. There is no difference except the process of collecting the 15%. (The only real difference is that healthcare costs twice as much per person in the U.S. because the system is operated by cartels whose business model is fraud, opaque pricing and the elimination of competition via Central State regulation.)

Yes, the super-wealthy can absorb a $150,000 hospital bill, but the 99.9% cannot. Thus any claim that healthcare insurance is "optional" is specious.

Property tax is mandatory. Some countries have no property tax, others do. Once again, only counting social-insurance and income taxes as the "official tax rate" is horrendously misleading. For countries without property taxes, the revenues are collected as value-added taxes (VAT) or higher income taxes. One way or another, the services paid by property taxes in the U.S. are paid by other tax schemes in countries without property taxes. So property taxes must be included in any accounting of total taxes paid.

Many of us who reside in states such as Illinois, New York, New Jersey and California pay $12,000 or more annually in property taxes. That is about 15% of our household income.

Renters pay the property taxes indirectly, but to the degree that rents would be lower if property taxes were eliminated and the tax burden shifted to a VAT, then renters "pay" the tax just like property owners.

Employees looking at the paycheck stubs do not see the entire tax paid on their labor. Empoyees may wonder why their net pay has stagnated for decades. One reason is that the total compensation costs of employees has risen substantially.

To give but one example of many, Social Security taxes were once modest, 3% paid by the employee and 3% paid by the employer for a total of 6% of the wage. Now the total for Social Security (12.4%) and Medicare (2.9%) is 15.3%. Self-employed people pay the total 15.3% as "self-employment tax." This is the real-world tax burden of Social Security and Medicare.

The 15.3% Social Security/Medicare tax starts with dollar one of net income. The Social Security tax goes away above around $106,000 in income, the Medicare tax does not.

Most employees do not know how much healthcare insurance "tax" is paid by their employer. To the degree that wages would rise if the healthcare "tax" was not paid by employers, then employees pay for this "tax" indirectly. To act like it isn't a mandatory part of compensation costs is both specious and misleading.

The only transparent way to calculate the total tax burden is to count all taxes (or equivalent) paid by self-employed property owners. Not counting the indirect taxes of healthcare and property taxes is misleading to the point of blatant misrepresentation.
The basic Federal income tax gives each individual earner $9,500 in standard deductions and exemptions. The tax rate for all income above that is:

$1 to $8,500: 10%
$8,501 to $34,500: 15%
$34,501 to $83,600: 25%
$83,601 to $174,400: 28%
$174,401 to $379,150: 33%
Above $379,151: 35%

These rates are scheduled to rise at the end of 2012 unless Congress acts to maintain rates at current levels.

Many households have gigantic interest deductions stemming from gigantic mortgages, but let's set aside outsized debt-based tax deductions as far from universal.

Above a rather modest $34,600 in taxable income and up to around $106,000, the real-world middle class tax burden in high-tax American locales is 75%:

Social Security and Medicare: 15.3%
Federal income tax: 25% (28% above $83,600)
State income tax: 5% (mid-range)
Healthcare insurance: 15%
Property tax: 15%
15% + 25% + 5% + 15% + 15% = 75%

Clearly, the percentage of income devoted to healthcare insurance and property taxes declines as income rises. Someone earning $200,000 has not only dropped the 12.4% Social Security tax for income above $106,000, healthcare insurance and property taxes as a percentage of their income drops from about 30% for those earning around $86,000 to 15%.

We can argue fruitlessly about how many tax angels can dance on the head of a pin, but all the caveats and quibbles don't change the basic fact that real-world tax rate for the "middle class" earning more than $34,500 in taxable income in high-tax locales is a confiscatory 75%.

Please don't tell me the U.S. is a "low-tax" nation; I might suffer a breakdown that I couldn't afford due to exclusions in my "voluntary" healthcare coverage.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


15 July, 2012

Obama Ends Welfare Reform As We Know It

This afternoon, President Obama's Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive undermining the welfare reform law of 1996. The new policy guts the federal work requirements that have been the foundation of that law - one of the most successful domestic policy reforms in the 20th century.

Welfare reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The underlying concept of welfare reform was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid.

The welfare reform law was very successful. In the four decades prior to welfare reform, the welfare caseload never experienced a significant decline. But, in the four years after welfare reform, the caseload dropped by nearly half. Employment surged and child poverty among blacks and single mothers plummeted to historic lows. What was the catalyst for these improvements? Rigorous new federal work requirements contained in TANF.

Contrary to some perceptions, the formula that made welfare reform a success was not giving state governments more flexibility in operating federally funded welfare programs. The active ingredient that made the difference was requiring state governments to implement those rigorous new federal work standards.

Today the Obama administration issued a dramatic new directive stating that the traditional TANF work requirements will be waived or overridden by a legal device called a section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).

Section 1115 allows HHS to "waive compliance" with specified parts of various laws. But this is not an open-ended authority: All provisions of law that can be overridden under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself.

The work provisions of the TANF program are contained in section 407 (entitled, appropriately, "mandatory work requirements"). Critically, this section, as well as most other TANF requirements, is deliberately not listed in section 1115; its provisions cannot be waived. Obviously, if the Congress had wanted HHS to be able to waive the TANF work requirements laid out in section 407, it would have listed that section as waivable under section 1115. It did not do that.

In the past, state bureaucrats have attempted to define activities such as hula dancing, attending Weight Watchers, and bed rest as "work." Welfare reform instituted work standards to block these dodges. Now that the Obama administration has abolished those standards, we can expect "work" in the TANF program to mean anything but work.

Obama's new welfare decree guts sound anti-poverty policy. The administration tramples on the actual legislation passed by Congress and seeks to impose its own policy choices - a pattern that has become all too common in this administration.

The result is the end of welfare reform as we know it.



The "Law of the sea treaty

It sounds harmless but the Devil is in the detail. It was not negotiated by honest brokers

President Reagan strongly opposed the Law of the Sea and he very publicly refused to sign it. He also dismissed the State Department staff that helped negotiate it. And in case anyone didn't get the message, he sent special envoy Donald Rumsfeld on a globe-trotting mission to explain his opposition and urge other nations to follow suit.

NOW 20 Republican Senators including john mccain Are REFUSING to oppose a United Nations Global Taxation Scheme that was intentionally designed to hand Over Our Sovereignty To The Third World insisting that Reagan would gladly sign on today.

I knew President Ronald Reagan well and he would still refuse to subvert our national sovereignty to an unaccountable international governing body and certainly not give control of anything to the UN. At all costs. LOST must be stopped.

Senator DeMint is championing the fight against LOST, and has already lined up the signatures of 27 Republican Senators who have pledged to oppose LOST; and since treaties must pass the Senate by a two-thirds vote, that means we are just SEVEN VOTES SHY of the 34 we need to doom the passage of this United Nations global taxation scheme.

But DeMint needs our help, because it's not going to be easy. Just days ago, The Hill reported that Senator Kerry is "bringing some big guns in" to persuade these 20 Republican hold-outs to stab you in the back before you're any the wiser.

Here Are The Names Of The 20 Republican Senators Who NEED TO BE REMINDED THAT THE UNITED STATES WILL NOT GIVE AWAY ITS SOVEREIGNTY! - Lamar Alexander, Kelly Ayotte, Scott Brown, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Bob Corker, Michael Enzi, Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Mike Johanns, Mark Kirk, Richard Lugar, John McCain, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Rob Portman, Olympia Snowe and Patrick Toomey.

The UN LOST Treaty is not an olive branch but instead is a deadly barbed wire fence. Yes, we're talking about the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST). a United Nations scheme that would impose a "global tax" on us and - as former-President Ronald Reagan said - force us to hand over "sovereign control of two-thirds of the Earth's surface over to the Third World."

U.S. Senate ratification to this treaty would pilage America's treasury for billions of dollar, then REDISTRIBUTE that wealth to the rest of the world. LOST, which was a product of the Left/Soviet/non-aligned move-ment agenda of the 1960s and 1970s, created the International Seabed Authority (ISA). ISA is a new supranational organization with unprecedented powers:

* The power to regulate the oceans or 70% of world's surface area;

* The power to levy international taxes;

* The power to impose production quotas (for deep-sea mining, oil production, etc).;

* The power to regulate ocean research and exploration;

* The power to create a multinational court system to render and enforce its judgments!

* The power to sue the United States over global warming issues.

* The power to undermine U.S. national security interests in our ports.

Such provisions were among the reasons President Ronald Reagan rejected the treaty in 1982. As Edwin Meese, U.S. Attorney General under President Reagan, explained recently, ".it was out of step with the concepts of economic liberty and free enterprise that Ronald Reagan was to inspire throughout the world."

LOST was rejected THIRTY YEARS AGO, in 1982, when President Ronald Reagan made the very public refusal to sign the treaty! If the treaty is signed NOW, the United Nations can regulate fishing, oil production, and even United States Navy exercises. All of our activities can be monitored by the United Nations!

LOST requires the United States to transfer billions of dollars in oil and gas royalties.to the International Seabed Authority or the UN for redistribution to the developing world

The treaty effectively prohibits two functions vital to American security: intelligence-collection in, and submerged transit of, territorial waters;

Mandatory information-sharing will hand to U.S. enemies data that would be used to facilitate attacks on this country by forcing, detailed imagery of underwater submarine harbor access routes and off-shore hiding places.



Latest update here.


The Left’s False Claim of Suppression From Voter ID Laws

On Monday, Benjamin Jealous, president of the NAACP, decided to confront the issue of Voter ID. Unfortunately, he embraced the left’s absurd ideology that it is voter suppression and an assault on the rights of minorities. He likened the movement of opposition to Voter ID laws to the Civil Right Movements with his reference to “Salem and Montgomery times”.

This rhetoric is nothing but divisive. I’m sure Mr. Jealous invoked this resemblance to create an emotional response to a momentous time in history. What he neglected to inform the oldest civil rights organization in the nation is that voter id prohibits voter fraud, which currently serves as the biggest hindrance to voting, (itself a sacred honor in this country that came via sacrifices and battles). It's time to rebuke the racial oratory that compels people to think that voter id is a race-driven agenda. Efforts to combat voter fraud are not meant to suppress minorities, or any ethnic group for that matter.

What needs to be rejected is the notion that minorities are too simple-minded or naïve to get a government-issued ID. The liberal left claims they are defending minorities, but they are really insulting people's intelligence. They imply that minorities are incapable of completing a small task like obtaining ID. I find it ironic that many liberals claim they are pro-choice when it comes to women making their own decisions about abortion, but then suggest that those same women might not be smart enough to make the right choice about getting an ID, which is needed to do just about anything these days.

Those who labored in the Civil Rights phenomena would be insulted by these partisan attacks. Voter ID is not designed to benefit a Republican or Democrat individual. It is for the American people. It transcends political ideology and demands that a fair election process be made for the general public.

The issue of racism was elevated to an higher level when embattled Attorney General Eric Holder addressed the NAACP. During his speech he compared voter ID to poll taxes. "Many of those without IDs would have to travel great distances to get them, and some would struggle to pay for the documents they might need to obtain them. We call those poll taxes." Ironically, a photo ID was required to attend Holder’s speech. The hypocritical stance of the left is amusing and yet sad to witness because it shows a continuing disconnect from reality.

The Left is turning the push for voter ID laws into a mechanism of class warfare. They are willing to ignore abuse instead of implementing safe and secure checks against fraud. The reason why they continue to sing the known chorus of racial bigotry is because they fear that minorities and seniors will turn a deaf ear to liberal policies and that their influence among these voting groups will diminish.

Liberal opposition to voter ID has nothing to do with concern for minorities. It’s about power and dominion. If the left was so concerned about voter oppression, they would be advocating pro-growth economic policies instead of baseless racial rhetoric that seeks to divide Americans.

The NAACP, Attorney General Eric Holder and any other organization or individual who stands against voter ID laws are making a mockery of our election process. It’s not complicated. You are either an ambassador for fairness and justice in voting or you tolerate corruption for the sake of political power.



Democrat voting miracles

Who says there are no miracles in our post-modern 21st century world? The first miracle happened in early June 2012, during the election to recall Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

Madison is the capital city of the state of Wisconsin, located in Dane County. After the votes were cast and counted, a Madison City Clerk discovered that 119% of registered Democrats in Dane County had voted! What a feat! Maybe Democrats can also walk on water!

Despite the miraculous 119% Democrat voter turnout, Gov. Walker still succeeded in defeating the recall 53.1% to 46.3%. Imagine what his winning margin would be without the miracle!

Back on June 13, I wrote a post on the miracle of dead people voting in America. Briefly, a report from the Pew Center on the States found that a whopping 24 million - or 1 in 8 - of active voter registrations in the U.S. have serious errors. Those errors include 1.8 million dead on America's rolls of registered voters, as well as 2.75 million who are registered as active voters in more than one state. (Source: NY Daily News, Feb. 14, 2012)



America's coming civil war -- makers vs. takers

To start rewarding the makers -- the private sector -- instead of shafting them -- would be a major step towards avoiding war

Call it America's coming civil war between the Makers and the Takers. On one side are those who create wealth, America's private sector-the very ones targeted by President Obama's tax hikes announced Monday.

On the other are the public employee unions; left-leaning intelligentsia who see the growth of government as index of progress; and the millions of Americans now dependent on government through a growing network of government transfer payments, from Medicaid and Social Security to college loans and corporate bailouts and handouts (think GM and Solyndra).

Over the past century America's private sector has been the source of productivity, innovation, creativity, and growth-and gave us the iPhone and iPad. The public sector has been the engine of entitlement, stagnation, and decline -- and gave us Detroit and the South Bronx.

The private sector built the strongest economy in the world. It armed the free world in World War Two, and then in the three decades after the war turned America into the most prosperous society history had ever seen. It revived America in the Reagan and Clinton years, and thanks to the Bush tax cuts brought this country back from economic collapse after 9/11.

In those same years a growing public sector, by contrast, turned Europe into a cesspool of debt, stalled economies, and chronic social dysfunction that's set the streets of Athens -- and perhaps other European capitals--on fire. That's where we're headed, too, more rapidly than we like to think.

That public sector-state, local, and federal -- now consumes 40% of GDP, compared to 33% just twelve years ago. It's brought us to the point where 48% of Americans are now on some form of government handout, from 44% when Obama took office-almost a fifth more than during the Reagan years. And too many of them have been programmed to believe they have no future unless the government takes more from the Makers -- precisely what Obama promised on Monday.

So we know which side Obama and the Democratic party are on. Like John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, ObamaCare has been a wakeup call to what's at stake-just as the turbulent events in Wisconsin showed how far Democrats are willing to go to win.

We're not Greece yet -- or on the brink of Bull Run. But it's time for Romney and Republicans to make clear which side they're on -- and to make it clear there can't be government transfer payments, from Medicaid to Social Security, without a strong vibrant private sector to pay for them.

They don't have to stoop to the Democrats' tactics. They just have to give our free market, private sector economy the robust defense it deserves.

A country where more Americans go on Social Security disability than get jobs -- as happened last month--can't stand.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


14 July, 2012


13 July, 2012

Mexican IQ

The article by Fred Reed below gets a lot of things right but gets a simple thing wrong so I thought it might be useful to put it up for both reasons. His comments about the characteristics of Mexican and US culture seem spot-on to me and the differences between the two cultures do play a part in explaining why Mexico is in an apparently permanent mess.

In his coments about IQ, however, Fred seems to forget what an average is. The Mexican IQ average includes the large, semi-literate rural population and that drags the average down. So showing that the Mexican middle class performs better than what that average would lead one to expect proves nothing and is essentially irrelevant

And in any case, smart fraction theory says that it is the IQ of the top 5% that matters, not the average IQ. The most vivid example of that is Israel, which has overall only an average IQ (Due to the large fraction of the population that came from Arab lands). But Israel also has a very bright sub-population of Ashkenazi origin and it is that sub-population that mostly accounts for Israel's frankly brilliant achievements.

What the average IQ of Mexico's top 5% is I have no idea but Fred is right in saying that cultural factors would hold them back even if they were very bright

The higher up the Mexican social hierarchy you go, the whiter people seem to get so Mexico is, like Israel, still a mixture (not a blend) of two broad sub-populations of different racial origins (Spanish and native). So that could well be integral to explaining why the Mexican middle class performs well above what one would expect from the national average. They have a larger Spanish genetic component

The Mexican authorities are of course aware of the demographic differences in their population and appear rather nervous about its potential for social combustion. So they have promulgated the amusing doctrine of "La Raza" -- the pretence that there is such a thing as a Mexican "race". I doubt that it fools many Mexicans, though. Its main use seems to be among Hispanics living in the USA

I belong to a list-serve of exceedingly bright people (I am not one of them) to include Ivy profs, who believe that IQ largely determines human destiny. This is in part I suspect because IQ is something they have, but it is possible that I am being snide in this. They regard as canonical the book IQ and the Wealth of Nations, which purports to show a correlation and by extension a causal relationship between mean national IQ and prosperity. They assert that the mean IQ of Mexico, where I live, is about 86, well below the mean of roughly 100 of white Americans. This, they further assert, accounts for the comparative backwardness of Mexico. Does it?

Now, some brush-clearing. Intelligence obviously exists, in the street sense that we all recognize. Some people obviously have more of it than others. There is obviously a genetic element. No biological reason exists to believe that genetically distinct groups cannot vary in intelligence. IQ, within cultures anyway, provides at least a rough measure of intelligence: It is easy to distinguish people with IQs of 180 from those with IQs of 80. So, in principle, Mexicans could be innately stupid. Are they?

I would like to think not, but what I want to think doesn’t seem to determine reality. (I regard this as a major design flaw of the universe.) How could I tell whether Mexicans were dull? It seemed to me that the alleged deficit, almost fifteen points, ought to be obvious. In fact I wondered whether a nation with a mean IQ of 86 could run airlines, hospitals, and telephone and internet companies. Which Mexico does.

While I could not test the entire population, I thought a reasonable approach might be to compare the apparent intelligence of Americans and Mexicans in professions of which I knew something. This I did.

A few days ago, I saw a retinologist in Guadalajara. Ophthalmological specialties are not for the fumble-minded, yet he was as intelligent and competent as any I have seen in the US. He also spoke near-perfect English. I tend to ask questions, which gives doctors a chance not to know the answers, or half know them. Not this guy. He was sharp. He sent me to a local retina clinic for optical-coherence tomography and a fluorescein angiogram. I have had these things done in the US, and saw no difference in the competence of those administering them.

Now, the IQist response, reasonable enough as a question, is to argue that even in a country with a mean IQ of 86 there will be a few who can perform at a high levels. True. This is the argument of The Only Fifty Smart Mexicans. The question is how many hundreds of thousands of the Only Fifty you can have before the numbers become embarrassing. After nine years in Mexico, I have seen a lot of dentists and doctors, using all manner of, for example, ultrasound-Doppler gear, and seen no difference in apparent intelligence.

A small difference would not be detectible by this method. But fifteen points?

Take another field, one that I know well: journalism. I have read lots of Mexican newspapers (they are on the web). They are as well-written as American. The Spanish in editorial columns is syntactically more complex than American journalistic English. Such journalists as Ihave met have been very smart. Television journalism is like the American, except that in talking-head shows there is civility and people don’t talk over each other. (And, overall, the content is less controlled, but this is anaother matter.)

The same happens in daily life. I have no sense that the civilized population is dim-witted. Here things are tricky: A large part of the country has barely risen above peasantry, and seems stupid, as much so as America’s Scotch-Irish louts of the 1800s or inhabitants of Chinese villages today. Among the approximately middle class—more a psychological than an economic designation—people seem as bright as Americans. I see them in banks, travel agencies, pharmacies. And I encounter way too many kids who have learned fair to good English, many in high school. I mean English English, not Frito bandido dialect. With a mean IQ of 86?

An IQist asked me a bit challengingly how many kids I knew who could qualify for Harvard. Two. One is my stepdaughter. The other is a guy whose mother owns a local bar. Natalia is in university, he by choice in some nothing job. (The women in Mexico are regularly more impressive than the men.) Obviously kids whom Natalia chooses as friends are not average, but two Ivy intelligences out of the perhaps ten kids I know squares poorly with the IQist theory.

In saying all of this, I am not suggesting that Mexico has achievement the intellectual development of Finland. While it is generally literate, much of it is barely so. Very large chunks of the population live in ignorance and do not produce retinologists. What I do suggest is that far too many people here do technically and otherwise demanding things for the IQ-86 theory to hold water.

When do exceptions cease to be exceptions? Maintaining modern cars with their linguini wiring and computers is not for the stupid. They do it. Ditto, building highways through mountains. They do it. Ditto, walking internet customers through the internals of modems. The Telmex techs regularly do it. Ditto, pirating software with tight security, such as Adobe, or Windows 7 so that it updates. Young techs do it.

So, the IQists ask reasonably, if Mexicans are not stupid, why is the country backward? Where are the Nobelists in physics, the Intels, the Apollo programs? Why no Bill Gates?

There are several becauses. Because the society is profoundly corrupt, with (it sometimes seems) everything and everybody being for sale. Because of a lack of entrepreneurial spirit, a tendency to be content with enough. Because Mexicans tend to live entirely in the present, instead of having one foot in the future as Americans do. Because of a resentful envy of the smart and ambitious (cf. “acting white”) instead of following their example; this is serious. Because envy and distrust of one another make it hard for them to work together. Because of a lack of interest in study. Because so very many of the young marry at sixteen, have a baby, and do nothing thereafter.

If these were just Fred’s opinions, they would be ignorable. It is also the view of Violeta and Natalia. Should anyone want a truly insightful exposition of why Mexico is as it is, read Mañana Forever, by Carlos Casttañeda, a former foreign minister of Mexico. His view, with which I entirely agree, is that Mexico is mostly a modern country creeping into the First World, but crippled by the culture of a century ago. See above.

Am I (and Castañeda) right about this? IQists tend to dismiss the invocation of culture as an evasion—real men believe in IQ—or to argue that defects of culture are the results of low intelligence. This is highly debatable. Consider the following list of founders of major companies in the information technologies (laragely from memory, so I hope right):

Google (Sergei Bryn, Larry Page), Intel (Gordon Moore, Robert Noyce), Apple (Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak), Microsoft (Bill Gates), Dell Computer (Michael Dell), Facebook (Mark Zuckerberg), YouTube (Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, Jawed Karim), Netscape (Mark Andreesen), Yahoo (Jerry Yang, David Filo), AMD (long list of guys from Fairchild Semiconductor), Twitter (Jack Dorsey), Wikipedia (Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger), Unz.org (Ron Unz), PayPal (Peter Thiel), Ebay (Pierre Omidyar).

Note that they are overwhelmingly either American or working in America. Why America? Gringos are no smarter than Europeans, Chinese, Japanese, or Koreans. The countries of all of the foregoing countries run huge high-tech companies, but their college kids don’t think, “Geez, I’m bored. I guess I’ll start Dell Computer, or Facebook, or maybe Microsoft. Beats doing a doob.” Certain thoughts seem embedded in American culture: “Why not?” “Who says I can’t?” “Bet me.” “Let’s wing it and see what happens.” It is not Mexico. Or much of anywhere else.



The Invincible Lie

By Thomas Sowell

Anyone who wants to study the tricks of propaganda rhetoric has a rich source of examples in the statements of President Barack Obama. On Monday, July 9th, for example, he said that Republicans "believe that prosperity comes from the top down, so that if we spend trillions more on tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, that that will somehow unleash jobs and economic growth."

Let us begin with the word "spend." Is the government "spending" money on people whenever it does not tax them as much as it can? Such convoluted reasoning would never pass muster if the mainstream media were not so determined to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil when it comes to Barack Obama.

Ironically, actual spending by the Obama administration for the benefit of its political allies, such as the teachers' unions, is not called spending but "investment." You can say anything if you have your own private language.

But let's go back to the notion of "spending" money on "the wealthiest Americans." The people he is talking about are not the wealthiest Americans. Income is not wealth -- and the whole tax controversy is about income taxes. Wealth is what you have accumulated, and wealth is not taxed, except when you die and the government collects an inheritance tax from your heirs.

People over 65 years of age have far more wealth than people in their thirties and forties -- but lower incomes. If Obama wants to talk about raising income taxes, let him talk about it, but claiming that he wants to tax "the wealthiest Americans" is a lie and an emotional distraction for propaganda purposes.

The really big lie -- and one that no amount of hard evidence or logic seems to make a dent in -- is that those who oppose raising taxes on higher incomes simply want people with higher incomes to have more money, in hopes that some of their prosperity will "trickle down" to the rest of the people.

Some years ago, a challenge was issued in this column to name any economist, outside of an insane asylum, who had ever said any such thing. Not one example has yet been received, whether among economists or anyone else. Someone is always claiming that somebody else said it, but no one has ever been able to name and quote that somebody else.

Once we have put aside the lies and the convoluted use of words, what are we left with? Not much.

Obama is claiming that the government can get more tax revenue by raising the tax rate on people with higher incomes. It sounds plausible, and that may be enough for some people, but the hard facts make it a very iffy proposition.

This issue has been fought out in the United States in several administrations -- both Democratic and Republican. It has also been fought out in other countries.

What is the real argument of those who want to prevent taxes from rising above a certain percentage, even for people with high incomes? It has nothing to do with making them more prosperous so that their prosperity will "trickle down."

A Democratic president -- John F. Kennedy -- stated the issue plainly. Under the existing tax rates, he explained, investors' "efforts to avoid tax liabilities" made them put their money in tax shelters, because existing tax laws made "certain types of less productive activity more profitable than other more valuable undertakings" for the country.

Ironically, the Obama campaign's attacks on Mitt Romney for putting his money in the Cayman Islands substantiate the point that President Kennedy and others have made, that higher tax rates can drive money into tax shelters, whether tax-exempt municipal bonds or investments in other countries.

In other words, raising tax rates does not automatically raise tax revenues for the government. Higher tax rates have often led to lower tax revenues for states, the federal government and other countries. Conversely, lower tax rates have often led to higher tax revenues. It all depends on the circumstances.

But none of this matters to Barack Obama. If class warfare rhetoric about taxes leads to more votes for him, that is his bottom line, whether the government gets a dime more revenue or not. So long as his lies go unchallenged, a second term will be the end result for him and a lasting calamity for the country.




The final executive order: Death of the republic: "Several weeks ago, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Obama's sudden executive order favoring illegal aliens. This was just one of many presidential executive orders and actually not a big deal but this tool will likely be the legal mechanism used to financially lock down America similar to the way a warden limits privileges and movement in a prison complex. Executive orders, unless they are challenged, can allow a president to rule by decree. This is basically what our once great republic has been reduced to."

San Bernardino is third California city to opt for bankruptcy: "San Bernardino’s City Council voted to become the third California city this year to file for bankruptcy, as it struggles with declining tax revenue, growing employee costs and accounting discrepancies in its ledgers. The council voted 4 to 2, with one abstention, last night to authorize a filing under Chapter 9 of U.S. bankruptcy law. The city of 209,000, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) east of Los Angeles, is so broke it can’t make its Aug. 15 payroll, interim City Manager Andrea Travis-Miller said"

Black scholars give Obama an “F”: "At this week’s NAACP convention in Houston, one prominent black leader will not be addressing this historic group: the nation’s first black president. President Obama’s absence from major NAACP events could be called a pattern, as he has not addressed the group since 2009, during the honeymoon phase of his presidency. His absence is turning out to be wise because he can avoid answering this question, 'Are blacks better off since he took office?"

Socialism American style: "There is variety in the different types of socialism proposed and implemented but there is a recognizable unifying central theme in every version of it that Mr. Obama and his ideological cohorts share: people are viewed as belonging to society, as part of a hive or herd that needs to be driven in one proper direction. One size fits all! The major obstacle to it all being individualism and the free market that is its economic corollary."

Lifestyles of the Rich and Palestinian: "Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has allegedly deposited nearly $13 million in U.S. taxpayer aid into a secret bank account, and routinely uses his political connections to profit from the stagnant peace process, according to testimony presented to Congress Tuesday by several Middle East experts. Abbas has enriched himself during his seven years in office through secret land deals, and helped his two sons earn millions of dollars through their stakes in companies that profit from U.S. assistance, the experts said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing entitled “Corruption within the Palestinian Political Establishment. The corruption just scratches the surface of the Palestinian first family’s shady dealings, experts warned."


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


12 July, 2012

Obama's Stump Speech Myths

Brent Bozell

Barack Obama has trouble telling the truth. This is the man who admitted his memoir "Dreams from My Father" was semifictional. "For the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I've known, and some events appear out of precise chronology." Translation: On some pages, I'm taking poetic license with the facts to burnish my image.

The problem is, Obama's still using poetic license. So where are the reporters to point out when he doesn't tell the truth? Let's take just one typical Obama stump speech, on July 5 in Sandusky, Ohio, and look for the fibs and stretches. They're not hard to find.

1. There are the biographical tall tales. "My grandfather fought in Patton's army." In 2009, AP's Nancy Benac noted that the president's grandfather, Stanley Dunham, was in a supply and maintenance company, not in combat. That's noble work, but "fought in Patton's army" implies something else. Moreover, Benac reported Dunham's company was assigned to Patton's army for two months in 1945, and then quoted Obama's own self-boosting memoir: "Gramps returned from the war never having seen real combat." Why has Benac been alone in exploring this blatant exaggeration?

2. There are the policy myths. "So when folks said let's go ahead and let the auto industry go bankrupt, we said no let's bet on American workers. Let's bet on American industries, and now, GM is back on top, and Chrysler is moving, and Ford is going strong."

Put aside for a moment that GM being "on top" is a stretch. GM still owes the public $30 billion for the bailout. But the real screamer in that passage is Ford never succumbed to bankruptcy and bailouts and therefore shouldn't be included in any boast of any sort of Obama achievements.

Some lines in the speech just sound ridiculous based on the last three and a half years, such as: "I want to balance our budget. I want to reduce our deficit, deal with our debt, but I want to do it in a balanced and responsible way." This might not be strictly "false" -- it's opinion -- but it's certainly disingenuous. He said the same thing in 2008 and then delivered the biggest trillion-dollar deficit in history.

Obama also refuses to admit the failure of the "stimulus," claiming in one passage, "I do want to rebuild our roads and our bridges" because it would "put a lot of people back to work -- and that's good for the entire economy." Except, it's demonstrably not true.

3. Then there are the religious myths. "When I first got my job as an organizer for the Catholic churches in Chicago ... they taught me that no government program can replace good neighbors and people who care deeply about their communities (and) who are fighting on their behalf."

In how many ways is this deeply insincere? Obama was hired by a Jewish Alinsky-ite leftist named Jerry Kellman for something called the Developing Communities Project, which did have Catholic support, but Obama's own memoir described the community organizing work as a chance to "start to build power" -- with a "hard-headedness" based on "politics, not religion."

In his stump speech, Obama's trying to create two false impressions: 1) That he's not waging war on the Catholic Church with his Department of Health and Human Services mandate to force Catholics to fund contraceptives and sterilization against their conscience. 2) That he's some sort of moderate about how government programs couldn't possibly replace person-to-person private charity. If he were Catholic, he might be excommunicated.

4. Finally, there are the campaign myths. Obama bizarrely told the crowd in Sandusky "back in 2008, everybody said we couldn't do it because we were outspent, we weren't favored." Did Obama mean in the primary race? By a slim margin, he outraised Hillary Clinton, who was the early favorite. But this spin is comical if it refers to the general election, where Obama outraised McCain $779 million to $347 million.

Then Obama added: "That first race that I ran as a state senator, Michelle and I, we were going around knocking on doors, passing out leaflets. Nobody gave us a shot. Everybody said, 'Nobody can pronounce your name, how are you going to win?'" But Obama ran unopposed in 1996, both in the primary and the general election. In a burst of Chicago-style politics, Obama removed his primary opponents, including the incumbent state senator, Alice Palmer, from the ballot by challenging their signatures.

When will the alleged fact-checkers in the news media vet Obama's stump speech and demand he start telling the truth?



Three ways to reform labor & save our country

An opinion from some apparently mainstream professors

Now that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has resoundingly won the recall election organized against him, pundits and policymakers are wondering what's next. As economists and labor experts from across the country, we believe it's time for legislators at all levels of government-local, state, and federal-to recognize that the labor reforms begun in Wisconsin need to be implemented nationwide.

The stakes couldn't be higher. A ticking fiscal time bomb has already begun to explode in some cities, a direct consequence of unsustainable union pay and benefit packages. Meanwhile, state laws that mandate union membership as a job requirement are contributing to a status quo that delivers workers' paychecks and citizens' taxes into union hands-and from union hands to the bulging coffers of labor leaders' favorite political allies.

The appropriate response to this perfect storm of excess is threefold.

First, steer our cities away from insolvency and bankruptcy by passing meaningful reforms to public employee pensions and compensation. Careful economic research has shown public-sector workers receive a level of compensation, pension benefits, and retiree health coverage in excess of what comparable workers in the private sector enjoy. In some instances, the total premium can be 30 percent or higher. The resulting burdens on municipal and state budgets are simply unaffordable.

In the city of San Jose, for instance, pension costs skyrocketed from $73 million to $245 million in just 10 years. The same night as Governor Walker's victory, the city's residents-both Democrat and Republican alike-looked past aggressive campaigning by public employee unions and voted overwhelmingly to make modest pension cuts that will save taxpayers millions. (Unions responded by filing suit.)

A similar vote happened down the coastline in San Diego, which means a bipartisan effort like this should be possible elsewhere-before it's too late.

The next step, at the state level, is to advance right-to-work legislation that gives employees a choice in union membership.

A key tenet of our democracy is freedom of association-including the freedom to form a union. But what about the right of a worker to choose not to join a union? In the 27 states that haven't passed right-to-work laws, this right doesn't exist.

In 2012, the state of Indiana showed that such laws can become a reality, even in the face of bitter opposition from labor leaders. Not only are such laws good for employees-they also make good economic sense. Research published in the journal Regulation compared manufacturing employment in counties with a pro-business environment (including right to work laws) to counties across a state border that didn't have such laws. The study found that manufacturing job growth was nearly 90 percent higher between 1947 and 1992 in the pro-business right-to-work counties.

The last step to effective labor reform should happen at the federal level, with the passage of the Employee Rights Act (ERA), a piece of legislation sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).

The provisions of the ERA include reinforcing the right to a secret ballot union election, regular recertification votes on whether employees wish to remain part of a union, and paycheck protection to allow employees to prevent their dues from going to politicians they don't support. Unsurprisingly, in polling commissioned from Opinion Research Corporation, these provisions receive 80 percent support-even in union households.

Before Gov. Walker's victory, this comprehensive policy program might have seemed too ambitious, however necessary to shoring up budgets, bolstering labor market flexibility, and securing America's economic future. Now, it's clear that our ambitions can rise to the level of our needs. It's an opportunity policymakers can't afford to miss.



Budget Insanity

John Stossel

Last year, Congress agreed to $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts, unless politicians find other things to cut. They didn't, of course. So now, with so-called sequestration looming in January, panic has set in. Even the new "fiscally responsible" Republicans vote against cutting Energy Department handouts to companies like Solyndra and subsidies to sugar producers. Many claim that any cut in military spending will weaken America and increase unemployment.

It's another demonstration of the politicians' addiction to spending -- and how we are complicit. "One more infrastructure bill" or "this jobs plan" will jumpstart the economy, and then we'll kick our spending addiction once and for all. But we don't stop.

For most of American history, government was tiny. But since Lyndon Johnson's Great Society and the promise that government would cure poverty, spending has gone up nonstop. This is not sustainable.

Progressives say: If you're so worried about the deficit, raise taxes! But it's a fantasy to imagine that taxing the rich will solve our deficit problem. If the IRS grabbed 100 percent of income over $1 million, the take would be just $616 billion. That's only a third of this year's deficit. It's the spending, stupid.

Even if you could balance the budget by taxing the rich, it wouldn't be right. Progressives say it's wrong for the rich to be "given" more money. But money earned belongs to those who earn it, not to government. Lower taxes are not a handout.

That's the moral side of the matter. There's a practical side, too. Taxes discourage wealth creation.....

Politicians promise to balance the budget by getting rid of what is wasteful, redundant or unnecessary. There's plenty of that, but they have promised to eliminate it for years. They cannot. It's just in the nature of the beast. Centrally planned monopolies do things that are wasteful, redundant and unnecessary.



Crony Capitalism, Explained

I loathe being subjected to tobacco smoke so celebrate anything done to prevent it happening -- so it takes a lot for me to put the article below up. But it does make a vital general point

"A tiny amendment buried in the federal transportation bill to be signed today by President Barack Obama will put operators of roll-your-own cigarette operations in Las Vegas and nationwide out of business at midnight."

I had only heard of these types of operations about two months ago - a friend of mine pointed out that you can get a carton of cigarettes a lot cheaper at these places where you buy loose tobacco and cigarette papers and then "rent" the rolling machine to turn out the finished cigarettes. As a smoker, I was thinking about trying it out. Now I won't be able to - something slipped in to a bill (and what does a highway bill have to do with tobacco) has killed it off. Businesses will be shut down, people lose their jobs.why? Well the linked article notes that Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) got the item inserted in to the bill and that Senator Baucus is a major recipient of tobacco-industry donations.

But don't any of you out there get all "darn Democrats" about this - while Democrats do this sort of skullduggery more often than GOPers, Republicans do engage in it. What Baucus did was a two-fold item in favor of both Big Government and Big Corporation. Part of the reason for the cheaper price is that loose tobacco is taxed at a lower rate than tobacco in cigarettes. The other part of the reason is that the major cigarette makers were starting to feel a pinch from the competition (and that, of course also jeopardizes the government revenues from the ill-famed tobacco lawsuit settlement). Essentially, Big Government and Big Corporation go together and legislated out of existence the people and their small businesses because Big Government needs revenues and Big Corporation doesn't like competition.

And this is what is wrong with America: it is no longer governed in any way, shape or form in the interests of the people. It is actions just like this which ensured that instead of having 50 different car makers, we only had three miserably incompetent car makers, two of which needed a taxpayer bailout. It is actions like this which ensure that only a few behemoth banks run our financial system (and run it in to the ground, and then demand taxpayer bailouts). It is actions like this which shut down things like the Keystone pipeline but shovel taxpayer money at Solyndra. This is why our economy doesn't grow; why our factories are in China, our mines are in Chile and our farms are in Mexico.because Big Government and Big Corporation like it that way; it works out best for them.they see it as maximizing government revenues and Big Corporation profits.

The reason our economy doesn't work is because of nonsense like this - the people are hamstrung and essentially forbidden to do anything which might lessen government revenues or harm the profits of the corporations which currently rule the market (and donate to the office holders - Baucus has been in the Senate since 1978; and he's just dancing to his master's tune). Do we want jobs in this country? Do we want to restore the middle class? Do we want an America which makes, mines and grows most of its own things? Then we need an America where the government is prohibited from legislating out of existence legal businesses and where corporations can't buy legislation to restrict competition. An end to Crony Capitalism is necessary for the revival of America - and that means an end to Big Government, as well.




Unemployment Rate Dropped In Every State That Elected A Republican Gov. In 2010: "In 2010, influenced by the Tea Party and its focus on fiscal issues, 17 states elected Republican governors. And, according to an Examiner.com analysis, every one of those states saw a drop in their unemployment rates since January of 2011. Furthermore, the average drop in the unemployment rate in these states was 1.35%, compared to the national decline of .9%, which means, according to the analysis, that the job market in these Republican states is improving 50% faster than the national rate.

A blessing from the Devil? "The U.S. Episcopal Church is poised to become the first major religious denomination in the United States to approve a rite for blessing gay marriages after its bishops overwhelmingly approved such a liturgy on Monday. The proposed blessing was agreed by the church's Chamber of Bishops at a meeting in Indianapolis and is expected to receive final approval from its House of Deputies later this week, Ruth Meyers, a chair of the Episcopalians' Subcommittee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Church Music, told Reuters."

Obama asks Congress for limited extension of Bush tax deferrals: "President Barack Obama expressed confidence Monday that he can win an election-year fight with Republicans over taxes and the economy despite three straight months of weak job growth. Obama urged Congress to pass a one-year extension of the Bush-era tax cuts for most Americans, but aides said he would veto a bill that included providing relief to households earning $250,000 or more, as GOP congressional leaders and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney want to do."

CA high-speed rail: On wrong track: "State Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), is probably best known as the author of California's bill to ban the use of hand-held cell phones while driving. After Friday's vote, Simitian may be best known as the Democrat who warned his colleagues not to issue $4.6 billion in bonds for big-ticket high-speed rail. 'Any of us who talks to our folks knows that they're asking the same questions,' Simitian reasoned. 'They're saying, "Really? You made these cuts. We're threatened with more. And you want to build a high-speed train?"' The state Senate, nonetheless, passed the bill with 21 votes." [Railways are very old technology now. The "City of Truro", a steam train, exceeded 100 mph in 1904. How come Leftists, of all people, romanticize trains? I guess they just like herding people together]


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


11 July, 2012

New Democrat intimidation

It will only stop when Republicans do the same

Politicians recognize they give up a degree of privacy when they run for office.

But Democrats are testing the outer limits of that understanding with a practice that raises questions about when campaign tracking becomes something more like stalking.

While most serious campaigns on both sides use campaign trackers — staffers whose job is to record on video every public appearance and statement by an opponent — House Democrats are taking it to another level. They’re now recording video of the homes of GOP congressmen and candidates and posting the raw footage on the Internet for all to see.

That ratcheting up of the video surveillance game is unnerving Republicans who insist that even by political standards, it’s a gross invasion of privacy. Worse, they say, it creates a safety risk for members of Congress and their families at a time when they are already on edge after a deranged gunman shot former Arizona Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords 18 months ago.

Wisconsin GOP Rep. Reid Ribble, who said he’s also been followed by a cameraman when shopping for groceries, said the home videos cross a line.

“I feel it’s totally inappropriate,” said Ribble, a freshman facing a competitive race for reelection. “It was disturbing to me that they would put that online. I don’t understand any political benefit that can be achieved with that.”

In Ribble’s case, a clip of his northeastern Wisconsin home appeared online June 18. The soundless video — which lasts 38 seconds — is taken from a car sitting just outside the house. The shot pans across the large home, showing it from several different angles.

DeaNa Ribble, the congressman’s wife, said it is deeply unsettling. “I’m more creeped out about this than Reid is, just because I’m home more,” she said. “If they so much as put a foot on private property, I will be the first person to call the police.”

Republicans whose homes have been videotaped say they understand that politics is a contact sport and that every public utterance they make is fair game. But, they argue, filming a home — and posting actual addresses — ought to be off-limits, if only out of respect for their families and neighbors.

“I think your family or your personal life should be off-limits unless it enters the campaign,” said Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci, who said a neighbor informed him that a tracker had been crouching in the bushes taking footage of the first-term congressman’s home. “It’s hard for my neighbors or my family to get comfortable when someone is in the bushes.”



Democrats to blacks: 'Stay Angry, vote Democratic'

By Larry Elder

Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., once said: "George (W.) Bush is our 'Bull' Connor -- and if that doesn't get to you, nothing will be able to get to you. It's time for us to be able to say that we're sick and tired, we're fired up and we're not going to take it anymore."

Connor was a racist sheriff who sicced dogs and water hoses on civil rights workers in the '60s. Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., says Republicans "want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws."

The tactic is as obvious as it is insulting. Tell black voters that "they" are out to "get them" -- and pull that lever for us Democrats so we can resist their racist attempt to undermine your success.

Never mind that this kind of anger wrapped in paranoia -- assuming that others are out to get you -- is precisely the formula to undermine your own success.

Accomplished entrepreneurs say one of the keys to success is the assumption and the confidence that you can influence the outcome.

Anger is an opponent of success.

The movie "Red Tails" is a fictionalized film of the Tuskegee airmen, the brave black fighter pilots of World War II. They overcame racism and fought for their country in a segregated military that considered them unequal.

In one scene, a Tuskegee pilot goes into an officers' club in Italy. He is taunted and told "whites only." He starts a fight and ends up in a military jail, possibly facing court-martial.

His commanding officer, played by Terrence Howard, confronts the aviator whose anger threatened the mission: "What am I going to do with you? Everything's a fight, isn't it? It must be so goddamned exhausting being you. You know something ... ? You're a punk. You remind me of one of those kids from a comic strip. Walking around, pushing your sleeve up one arm, hand balled in a tight fist. Walking and looking at the world through a squint, always looking to knock something down just because it's standing.

"It's right there," says the CO, pointing his finger to the temple of his officer's head. "It's right there. You really want to knock something down? Try using that. Because I will tell you straight, I don't have anything against you. I have the highest expectations for you. Lieutenant ... I need everyone on this next mission, and you're lucky you're the best damn pilot we've got. Report to your unit."

Rep. Rangel wants anger for votes and power. In discussing the Trayvon Martin case, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said, "Blacks are under attack." Under attack? By whom?

The "battle against racism" removes pressure from people to practice what works: personal responsibility, hard work, pursuing an education and a pledge to refrain from having children until capable of assuming the responsibility. Blacks are not helped by the angry, pessimistic rhetoric of those who claim to operate in their best interests. Getting ahead becomes elusive when others train you to think like a victim, that The Man holds you in a trap of weights and barriers.

Black actor Charles Dutton, playing a high school teacher in the movie "Menace II Society," gives to students this dismal "advice": "Being a black man in America isn't easy. The hunt is on, and you're the prey." Have a nice life, boys.

I was blessed with parents with no patience for those who felt sorry for themselves and who allowed others to make them feel inferior. In high school, my literature class read a poem that went something like this:

"While riding through old Baltimore, so small and full of glee,

"I saw a young Baltimorean keep a-lookin' straight at me.

"Now, he was young and very small, and I was not much bigger

"And so he smiled, but put out his tongue and called me 'nigger.'

"I saw the whole of Baltimore from May until September,

"Of all the things that happened there, that's all that I remember."

The teacher angrily talked about the permanent damage done to this little boy's psyche. The permanent stain of racism. The denial of the little boy's dignity. The boy, said the teacher, will never be the same. By the time the bell sounded, everyone was angry.

I went home and read the poem to my mom as she prepared dinner. When I finished -- "of all the things that happened there, that's all that I remember" -- she took a spoon out of a steaming pot, rapped it on the side, turned to me and said, "Too bad he let something that trivial spoil his vacation."

As Aristotle, in the "Nicomachean Ethics," wrote: "Anyone can become angry -- that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree, at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way -- this is not easy."

Apparently, Aristotle wasn't a Democratic strategist.



George Lakoff is still going

I hadn't heard of him since I last debunked him some years back but he is still at the same old stall selling the same old secondhand ideas. He has issued a book called "The Little Blue Book: Quotations from Chairman Lakoff"

Lakoff's central "insight" is that you must use distorted Leftist language to have any hope of promoting Leftist ideas. But telling that to people who already call racism "affirmative action" and abortion "choice" must be one of the most unoriginal ideas ever proposed. George Orwell beat him to that idea by half a century.

I suppose that telling people that what they have always done is right might be encouraging to some but that is about all you can say for it. A few excerpts from a critical review of the book:

George Lakoff, Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics at U.C. Berkeley — and highly regarded Democratic tactician — has just released his playbook for the 2012 election. Titled The Little Blue Book: The Essential Guide to Thinking and Talking Democratic, it purports to be the ultimate insiders’ guide to liberal messaging and left-wing ideology.

But Lakoff is not just any intellectual celebrity: he is deemed one of the most important contemporary philosophers of progressive thought. You know how whenever Democrats lose an election, they invariably blame their “poor messaging” and never ever the content of their policies? Lakoff came up with that. Liberals find it very reassuring: We don’t need to rethink our ideas — we just need to express ourselves more clearly.

As a linguist, Lakoff focuses on the notions of “cognitive frames” and “conceptual metaphors,” which refer to the overarching filters through which each person perceives the world. This academic field in and of itself is politically neutral. But on the other hand, Lakoff is also a hardcore leftist, so he decided long ago to overtly combine his academic interest with his personal politics, to use the study of cognitive frames to promote leftist ideology. This is what makes him such a hero to liberals. The Little Blue Book is Lakoff’s attempt to transform his high-minded theories into nuts-and-bolts instructions for how all Democrats — from the White House to the drum circle and everything in between — should speak to conservatives, undecideds and the media....

And yet his new Little Blue Book is supposed to be an instruction manual on how to convert wavering conservatives and undecideds to the liberal worldview — even though insults and mockery are an integral component of that worldview. To summarize Lakoff’s presentation in one sentence, he essentially says, “Hey, you ignorant yet diabolical rubes, shut the hell up and submit to an incessant barrage of our vacuous euphemistic leftist slogans, because you’re too stupid and evil for an honest debate.”

The eternally vexatious problem which drives Lakoff to distraction and which inspired him to write (along with one of his researchers) The Little Blue Book is that despite their psychological pathologies and awful moral structure, conservatives somehow still manage to occasionally win elections. Lakoff has come to the conclusion that this is due not to the superiority of conservative philosophy, but to superiority in conservative messaging.

I’ve designed a little chart to clearly illustrate what I call Lakoff’s Paradox: Why is it that conservatives still manage to sometimes win public opinion and elections despite being so vastly inferior? Behold:

Everything is going liberals’ way until that last step, where they fumble the ball at the goal line: messaging. Conservatives on the other hand are a miserable lot, but somehow manage to uncork a convincing moral frame to hide their distasteful politics. The Little Blue Book really would have benefitted from having such an illustration; but better late than never.

For example, right in the introduction he puts on his scientist hat and gives us a neutral and dispassionate summary of the liberal and conservative political visions, which he will refer back to repeatedly throughout the book. But the language he chooses to use reveals all: the definition of liberalism contains words like “caring,” “decent,” “moral” and “fair,” while the definition of conservatism contains phrases like “self-interest,” “no commitment,” “corporate interests,” and “sink or swim.”

Every page, every paragraph, every sentence in the entire book could be unpacked in a similar way, an unending pastiche of partisan linguistic bias masquerading as scientific or impartial verities.

Lakoff is also the reason why liberals and conservatives never seem to be able to communicate with each other. This frustrating problem is no accident, nor a natural result of differing ideologies simply not seeing eye to eye. Rather, it’s a conscious behavior explicitly recommended by Lakoff over the years, and one which he hammers home repeatedly in The Little Blue Book. Page 43 contains the book’s core message:

“Never use your opponent’s language….Never repeat ideas that you don’t believe in, even if you are arguing against them.”

So central is this notion to Lakoff’s thesis that his publicist sent out a list of “The 10 Most Important Things Democrats Should Know” with each review copy, and guess what comes in at #1:

“Don’t repeat conservative language or ideas, even when arguing against them.”

And many politicians, pundits and talking heads have taken Lakoff’s recommendation to heart. This is why conservatives and liberals can’t seem to have the simplest conversation: liberals intentionally refuse to address or even acknowledge what conservatives say. Since (as Lakoff notes) conservatives invariably frame their own statements within their own conservative “moral frames,” every time a conservative speaks, his liberal opponent will seemingly ignore what was said and instead come back with a reply literally out of left field.

Thus, he is the progenitor of and primary advocate for the main reason why liberalism fails to win the public debate: Because it never directly confronts, disproves or negates conservative notions — it simply ignores them.

A prime example of Lakoff’s ruinous recommendations can be seen in the debate over abortion, which never seems to get resolved despite a trillion words being expended on it every day. The “conservative frame,” to use Lakoff’s language, is that a fetus is a human being who has not yet been born; thus to “abort” the fetus is to kill it, which means a human being has been killed, which is tantamount to murder. In response to this frame, Lakoff recommends — a recommendation that liberals dutifully follow — that those on the left completely ignore the conservative argument, and instead “reframe” the issue with metaphors like “freedom of choice” and “women’s independence” and “reproductive rights.” All those positive words — “freedom,” “independence,” “rights” — recast the entire debate in a different light, allowing liberals to “win” the debate by not acknowledging that the opposing side has even made a statement.

And this is Lakoff’s fundamental flaw, which unfortunately exactly coincides with his fundamental thesis (in other words, his thesis doesn’t have an error — it is an error). By intentionally refusing to challenge, disprove, understand or even acknowledge the existence of the other side’s argument, you allow that argument to grow in strength and win converts.

This would not be true if the other side’s argument were inherently weak or fallacious, which I assume is at the root of Lakoff’s blunder; he must assume that conservatives don’t have valid arguments or positions, but rather nothing more than sneakily effective ways of misrepresenting erroneous or ridiculous beliefs. In Lakoff’s universe, you can extinguish such beliefs by ignoring them completely, thus depriving them of oxygen.

While Lakoff’s foolish insistence that liberals never repeat conservative frames means that conservative notions never get directly rebutted, this insistence backfires in other ways as well. Why? Because conservatives take the diametrically opposite strategy: They seize on every utterance that liberals make, and repeat their “frames” as loudly as possible to demonstrate how deceptive they are. So while liberals studiously avoid analyzing anything conservatives say, conservatives meanwhile are avidly dissecting every single thing liberals say. The end result is that conservatives, to their own satisfaction as least, successfully challenge and de-fang every liberal notion; but liberals never challenge or de-fang conservative notions, instead seeking to snuff them out with a lethal dose of Silent Treatment.

But it gets worse, because it is the very euphemisms and other ludicrous “conceptual metaphors” recommended by Lakoff which give conservatives so much grist for their mill. Every time a liberal talking head gets up and uncorks another howler in the Lakoff style, conservative fiskers and deconstructionists latch on and tear it to pieces, trumpeting it as further evidence of liberals’ cluelessness or mendacity. So not only does Lakoff recommend holding fire against conservative frames, the ammunition he saves only ends up being used against the liberals themselves.

And this man is considered their master strategist?

More HERE.

Lakoff's book does have some vague claims to academic respectability so my dissection of his ideas does include a presentation of the academic evidence relevant to his theories


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


10 July, 2012

SCOTUS ruling gives the States the power to block Obamacare

And the costs of compliance with Obamacare give them a big incentive to do so

If the new health care law wasn't enough of a mess before last week's Supreme Court decision, that ruling actually added another layer of cost, complexity and political contentiousness to the bill.

By striking down part of the law that required states to expand their Medicaid programs, the court tossed a very hot potato into the laps of state lawmakers everywhere.

ObamaCare required states to increase eligibility for Medicaid to 133 percent of the poverty line, or roughly $30,000 per year for a family of four. The expansion would also make childless single men (a notoriously high-cost group) eligible for Medicaid for the first time. In all, about 40 percent of all the people projected to gain coverage under ObamaCare would do so via Medicaid.

But this imposed real costs on states. For example, the Medicaid expansion would cost New Jersey taxpayers roughly $35 billion over 10 years, and New Yorkers as much as $52 billion.

Not surprisingly, many states balked — and now the high court has agreed: Congress can't strip all Medicaid funds from states that refuse the expansion, as the ObamaCare law threatened.

So what will state legislators do now? If they agree to expand their Medicaid programs anyway, they'll be choosing to pile new costs on their state budgets and new taxes on their constituents.

And if a state doesn't expand its Medicaid program, most of those who would've been eligible for Medicaid will now become eligible for subsidies through ObamaCare's health-insurance exchanges. And those subsidies are paid in full by the feds. Thus, New York, for example, would shift most of that $52 billion in new costs back to the federal government.

Of course, if states do shift those costs back to the feds, that will cause the federal cost of ObamaCare to skyrocket. If every state were to refuse to expand its Medicaid program, the feds would save roughly $130 billion in their share of Medicaid costs in 2014, but would have to pay $230 billion more in new exchange-based subsidies — for a net added cost of $100 billion. And that's just for the first year.

Remember, this is a law that already will cost as much as $2.7 trillion from 2014 to 2024, and will add more than $823 billion to the federal deficit — estimates that assumed state taxpayers would be picking up some Medicaid costs. How will Congress react if billions or perhaps trillions of dollars in new costs are added to the federal budget?

Here's another complicating factor: Most states have not yet set up an exchange. Many, especially ones with Republican governors or legislatures, may refuse altogether. By most estimates, as few as 15 states are likely to have exchanges in operation by the 2014 deadline.

ObamaCare gives the feds the authority to step in, setting up and operating an exchange in any state that doesn't set up its own — but there is reason to doubt that they have resources to do so in so many states.

Anyway, federal subsidies are available only through exchanges that the states set up. The feds can't offer subsidies through a federally run exchange.

Thus, if states neither expanded Medicaid nor set up exchanges, that would effectively block most of ObamaCare's new entitlement spending.

One last wrinkle: It is those subsidies that trigger the penalty under ObamaCare for employers who fail to provide workers with insurance. So states that don't set up exchanges could also escape the "employer mandate."

That is, ObamaCare requires employers with 50 or more workers to provide health insurance or pay a fine...er, tax. But that tax only kicks in if at least one employee qualifies for subsidies under the exchange. Since subsidies can only be provided via a state-authorized exchange, a state that refuses to set one up could end up blocking the employer mandate altogether. At the very least, expect some employers to sue on this point, leading to yet another Supreme Court challenge.

And if, as expected, ObamaCare drives up the cost of insurance, many employers could end up dropping their current health insurance. So the end result of all this could be even more uninsured than before the law passed.

In short, the Supreme Court's ruling not only guaranteed that ObamaCare will be an issue in this fall's federal elections; it dumped a mess in the laps of governors and state legislators, too.



More conservative activism needed

Don't just grumble, get involved. Conservatives need to match the Greens. The alternative is to get steamrollered by the Greens

“The problem is,” a utility company executive told me, “that there is no one at the table who cares about the ratepayers. There is no one who cares about low-cost energy. Everyone is too concerned about looking PC instead of standing up for the consumer.” We were discussing the “stay” announced last week by the EPA that allows the state of New Mexico more time to find an alternative solution toward meeting the visibility requirements spelled out in the Clean Air Act.

New Mexico has been battling with the EPA over its insistence that the state use selective catalytic reduction technology (CRT) at the San Juan Generating Station, the 1,800-megawatt coal-fueled power plant that is New Mexico’s single largest source of electricity. It also provides power to customers in California, Arizona, and Utah. The state has been arguing for a different plan that would cost less but produce similar results. Bids received for the CRT installation are more than double the EPA’s estimate.

As has been happening across the country, the high cost of the EPA’s mandates, will likely shut down the two older units at New Mexico’s San Juan Generating Station. The Public Regulatory Commission will have to allow the utility company to increase rates to cover the lost depreciation of the units—not to mention the loss of the electricity production.

As the millions of people in the Washington DC area who lived without power for days found, living without electricity is “awful.” In his well-worth reading narrative of life without electricity, When the Moore Family Lost Power, Stephen Moore states: “It was awful, but educational. If anything good has come out of this debacle, it is that our household has a new appreciation for how important it is that everyone have access to affordable and reliable sources of energy.”

Environmental groups have complained that they do not have a seat at the table. Jeremy Nichols of the group WildEarth Guardians, stated: “they've got to realize they need to work with us or else it's not going to get any easier for them.”

As the utility executive explained, the ratepayers' needs are not being considered. The meetings will likely take place in some “smoky room” where a deal will be hashed out with no one challenging the premise most of these so-called emission reductions are based on: climate change is a man-made crisis caused by humans burning hydrocarbons.

“Who,” I asked, “should be standing up for the ratepayer?” “The Attorney General,” he told me.

While our meeting started out with complaints about the process, I saw the 90-day stay as a positive. It buys us time—though a 120-day stay would have been better. One hundred-twenty days would put us past the election—though not past a potential lame-duck period.

Actions like the EPA’s insistence that power providers use excessively expensive equipment for miniscule reductions (think of the law of diminishing returns) in pollutants or “haze”—which ultimately shuts down power plants and reduces our access to abundant and affordable electricity—emphasizes the importance of electing a new President come November 6.

With the stay, we may be able to put off finalizing the rules until we have a new President and a new EPA Administrator. If an agreement is reached and finalized within the 90-day time frame, it will be harder to reverse. But if a decision is not made, and another stay is granted, it could be a win. We could have a re-think and sanity could return to electricity costs and pricing.

But winning will take citizen engagement on several fronts. If we sit back and watch, we’ll deserve what we get—which could include outrageously high energy prices.

First, in New Mexico, and other states facing similar circumstances, we need to pummel the Attorney General with phone calls, emails, and letters telling him (or her) to represent us, the ratepayers. He needs to fight for abundant and affordable electricity rather than acquiesce to the politically correct notion that CO2 emissions are ruining the planet. Sadly, in New Mexico, it is not likely that the AG will stand up for us. His website is: http://www.nmag.gov/home

Second, we all need to vote. Mitt Romney may not be our first choice, but he is a choice. Sitting the election out will give us four more years of punitive energy regulation—on steroids.

Lastly, assuming we get a change on November 6, we cannot breathe a sigh of relief, sit back, and relax. We must stay engaged. The era of spectator citizenship is over. We, the people, will need to stay on top of the Romney Administration to insist that he appoint people to positions, such as the Secretary of Energy and the EPA Administrator, who understand the important role energy plays in America. Stephen Moore called it “the central nervous system of our modern economy and our 21st-century lifestyles.”

I am optimistic because I have seen citizen engagement work.

We had a victory in New Mexico with the sand dune lizard. I believe it was citizen engagement that kept it from being listed as an endangered species—which could have severely crippled the economy in Southeastern New Mexico and West Texas and reduced oil and gas development throughout the region that produces 20% of the domestic supply.

Like the utility company executive didn’t see the “stay” as a win, not all the oil and gas stakeholders saw the sand dune lizard decision as a win.

Back in December of 2011, the sand dune lizard decision was delayed for six months. Many industry executives would have liked to have had the decision made, not delayed, so they could move on to the next step: court. At the time, I wrote that the “delay” option was a good thing, as it allowed for more public engagement, and it put the decision just months away from the presidential election. I posited that I didn’t think the Obama Administration would want to make a decision that would hurt such a large portion of the state’s economy months before the election in a swing state.

There was more public engagement and last month the decision was handed down. The lizard was not listed.

One of the reasons the lizard was not listed was because of the Candidate Conservation Agreements (CCA), in which many in the industry have engaged. Some complain that the CCAs are really extortion, and they are. The CCA requires companies that want to drill in the lizard’s habitat to pay money to an organization for habitat restoration—but they can still operate (albeit at a higher cost, which results in higher prices to the consumers).

However, as the environmental groups have complained, the CCAs are nonbinding. With a new administration and new leadership in the agencies, the CCAs could be abandoned much more easily than the lizard could be de-listed. Again, citizens will need to be engaged to keep pressure on a President-elect Romney to appoint appropriate agency leadership.

The “stay” over the regional haze regulations in New Mexico can be a win. The “delay” over the sand dune lizard was a win.

Likewise, the Supreme Court decision on the healthcare law could be a win—but we have to embrace it and get engaged. Agree or disagree with the decision, it is the decision; it is what we have to work with. The campaign cash that flowed in following the announcement ($4.6 million to the Romney campaign from 47,000 donors in less than a day) shows that, perhaps, the Chief Justice has done us a favor. In opining, “It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” he has reminded all of us of the importance of our vote.

Whom we elect has far broader implications than just who occupies the White House. The President appoints people to leadership positions and they pick the people who implement the rules and regulations—like Al Armendariz. We often call these people “unelected bureaucrats,” when in fact, they are there as a result of our vote.

We have 16 weeks to save America. Are you engaged? Are you talking to your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers about the importance of this election? Polls following the SCOTUS decision show that nearly half of the public didn’t even know that a decision had been made or what it was. For us, that translates to an understanding that a large percentage of the population—including nearly half of your friends and family—isn’t paying attention to the news. They need us to talk to them.

Each week as you read my column, you should be outraged. I aim to expose under-covered issues that point out the danger of this administration’s energy policy. In doing so, I’m giving you fresh talking points so you can engage in the process. I also hope to encourage you to keep at it; to not give up. As citizens of the United States of America, we can no longer be spectators. We must get engaged.



Big Government Cripples Incentives to Save, Promotes Risky Culture of Immediate Gratification

Daniel J. Mitchell

America’s political elite is nauseating for many reasons, but perhaps most of all when they blame others for problems that are caused by misguided government policies. A stark example is the way they attacked the Facebook billionaire who moved to Singapore because of punitive taxation and class-warfare policy.

Today, let’s look at an example that affects almost everybody rather than just a handful of rich people. Many people in Washington sanctimoniously say that American households and businesses are too focused on the short term and that we don’t save enough.

But as I explain in this CBNC interview, tax and spending policies from Washington have undermined the incentive to save.




Episcopalians show their continuing contempt for the Bible: "The U.S. Episcopal Church's House of Bishops on Saturday approved a proposal that, if it survives a final vote, would give transgender men and women the right to become ministers in the church. The House of Bishops voted at the church's General Convention to include "gender identity and expression" in its "non-discrimination canons," meaning sexual orientation, including that of people who have undergone sex-change operations, cannot be used to exclude candidates to ministry. The move comes nine years after the Episcopal Church, an independent U.S.-based church affiliated with the worldwide Anglican Communion, approved its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, sparking an exodus of conservative parishes.

Hope'n'Change: More People Went on Disability than Found Jobs in June: "It would have been easy for President Obama to miss the finer points of yesterday's jobs report, given that he only spent 26 seconds speaking about it in Ohio. But do these numbers look like "a step in the right direction" to you? The economy created just 80,000 jobs in June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday. But that same month, 85,000 workers left the workforce entirely to enroll in the Social Security Disability Insurance program, according to the Social Security Administration. The disability ranks have outpaced job growth throughout President Obama's recovery. While the economy has created 2.6 million jobs since June 2009, fully 3.1 million workers signed up for disability benefits. In other words, the number of new disability enrollees has climbed 19% faster than the number of jobs created"

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


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


9 July, 2012

If NYT editorial writers leaned any further Left they would fall over

The New York Times’ editorial writers — who reflect the opinions of the newspaper’s publisher and principal owner, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Jr., who hires and fires them — have their knickers in a knot over Sheldon Adelson. What has the Las Vegas hotel-and-casino tycoon done? The Times asserts that he is spending his money “to advance his personal, ideological and financial agenda, which is wildly at odds with the nation’s needs.”

Readers of the Times are expected to take it on faith that Mr. Sulzberger, who came by his status through inheritance, accurately perceives the nation’s needs, and that Mr. Adelson, who over the course of his 77 years rose from dire poverty to fabulous wealth by building businesses, has not a clue.

Full disclosure No. 1: I spent some of the best years of my life working for the Times , as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and editor. Then, as now, some of the world’s finest journalists were employed by the Grey Lady. One thing they have had in common: They do not draw conclusions and level charges except on the basis of solid evidence. By contrast, the Times’ editorial writers no longer burden themselves with serious argumentation. They assert, they preach, they allege. I have heard Times reporters grumble about this — though not on the record.

Full disclosure No. 2: I know Mr. Adelson and, on occasion, he’s donated funds to the non-partisan, non-profit organization I head to support work on national-security issues he views as critically important. But not for that reason do I defend his constitutional right to spend as much of his money as he likes to persuade his fellow Americans that his agenda is preferable to that favored by the Times . I would just as vehemently defend the free-speech rights of George Soros, another multibillionaire who spends lavishly to promote his agenda — an agenda with which the Times largely agrees and I do not. The Times has never criticized Mr. Soros as they have Mr. Adelson. In other words: I am championing a principle without exception; the Times — not so much.

The Times promotes its policy preferences — again, we’re really talking about Mr. Sulzberger’s policy preferences — every day, using ink it buys by the barrel. The Times sees that as part of its mission, correctly. But private citizens are entitled to the same free-speech rights as the media — unless, of course, one embraces as a serious principle what I’ve always assumed the great journalist A. J. Liebling intended as a quip: “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” It should not go unobserved that the Times rarely allows opposing views to be aired on its op-ed pages.

Much of the money that Mr. Adelson, Mr. Soros, and others give to political candidates is spent on communications — ads in newspapers (including the Times) and on television and radio. The ads run by the politicians Mr. Adelson is likely to support often rebut the opinions articulated by the Times and other mainstream media, as well as the “public media,” which are subsidized with taxpayer dollars.

Mr. Adelson recently spent more than $20 million to support the presidential candidacy of Newt Gingrich. The Times calls that an attempt to “buy influence” but, more objectively, it was an attempt to persuade voters and, in my view, a net contribution to the national policy debate. Now Mr. Adelson is supporting Mitt Romney. That support, the Times fears, could help push the Republican candidate “over the top in a close race like this year’s.” The Times sees that as unfair. What the Times views as fairer: The Times supporting President Obama and pushing him over the top in a close race like this year’s.

The Times mentions only one substantive issue motivating Mr. Adelson: He is writing “huge checks” because, the Times alleges, of his “disgust for a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, supported by President Obama and most Israelis.” What is the basis for the Times’ use of a loaded word such as “disgust”? Readers are not told. The Times adds only that Mr. Adelson “considers a Palestinian state a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people.”

Why in the world might Mr. Adelson think that? Well, there is the fact that Hamas, which rules Gaza, has repeatedly proclaimed that there can be “no solution” to the Palestinian–Israeli conflict “except through jihad,” a religious war through which “Islam will obliterate [Israel] just as it obliterated others before it.”

There is the fact that Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority and Fatah, has banned “all informal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians” because such dialogue promotes “the culture of peace” and is designed to “normalize” relations between Israelis and Palestinians. There is the fact that Palestinian Authority official Adli Sadeq has written in the official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida , that Israelis “fool themselves, assuming that Fatah accepts them and recognizes the right of their state to exist, and that it is Hamas alone that loathes them and does not recognize the right of this state to exist. They ignore the fact that this state, based on a fabricated [Zionist] enterprise, never had any shred of a right to exist.”

If Times editorial writers have contradictory evidence, reasons to believe that Hamas and Fatah do not see a Palestinian state as “a stepping stone for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people,” it would be useful for them to present it.

The Times goes on to charge that Mr. Adelson’s “overriding interest is his own wallet. He rails against the president’s ‘socialist-style economy’ and redistribution of wealth, but what he really fears is Mr. Obama’s proposal to raise taxes on companies like his that make a huge amount of money overseas.” Think about this for a minute: A man well into his eighth decade worth billions of dollars “fears” a tax increase?

The Times neglects to inform readers that Mr. Adelson does not give away money only to participate in political debates. He also has donated huge amounts for medical research, education, and other philanthropic pursuits. If his “overriding interest” were his wallet, would he do that?

The Times concludes by lamenting that we live in a time when “there are no legal or moral limits” preventing Mr. Adelson from helping “to elect Republicans who promise to keep his billions intact.” Under the moral and legal regime the Times would prefer, newspaper owners, “progressive” politicians, and government bureaucrats would decide how to spend Mr. Adelson’s money — and he would shut the hell up. I leave it for you to ponder whether that agenda would be in line with “the nation’s needs.”



For the Thirtieth Time, the Obama Administration Admonishes Voters Not to Read Too Much into One Month’s Jobs Numbers

Says "The People's Cube"

May 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”

April 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”

March 2012: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”

February 2012:“Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.”

January 2012: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report; nevertheless, the trend in job market indicators over recent months is an encouraging sign.”
December 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

November 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

October 2011: “The monthly employment and unemployment numbers are volatile and employment estimates are subject to substantial revision. There is no better example than August’s jobs figure, which was initially reported at zero and in the latest revision increased to 104,000. This illustrates why the Administration always stresses it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

September 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

August 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

July 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

June 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

May 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

April 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

March 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

February 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

January 2011: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

December 2010: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

November 2010: “Therefore, as the Administration always stresses, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

October 2010:“Given the volatility in monthly employment and unemployment data, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

September 2010: “Given the volatility in the monthly employment and unemployment data, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

July 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative. It is essential that we continue our efforts to move in the right direction and replace job losses with robust job gains.”

August 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.”

June 2010: “As always, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.”

May 2010:“As always, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.”

April 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.”

March 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.”

January 2010: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.”

November 2009: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, positive or negative.”



Making Government (Less Dis)Honest

Obamacare is a tax. It’s not a tax. Politicians and pundits are all over the map on this. A tax, a mandate, a ham sandwich…the answer depends on who you ask. But none of this matters because, whatever else it is, it’s currently the law of the land. But how did this happen?

During the debate over Obamacare, Democrats not only stampeded toward any camera they could find to say it wasn’t a tax, they spewed hundreds, if not thousands, of other lies about what it is and is not.

“It will lower premiums.”

“If you like your current plan you can keep it.”

“No one making less than $250,000 will see their taxes increase at all.”

These are just a few of liberals’ greatest hits that still echo off the inside of the Capitol Dome. They are still lies. The people who said them still know they were lies from the start and they continue to repeat those lies today.

That Congress lies surprises no one. That we have tolerated this for so long does surprise.

But what can we do? Vote them out? The worst of the worst – Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Charlie Rangel and Chris Van Hollen – run no risk of losing, thanks to gerrymandering. It’s time for a new idea.

Congress lives by its own set of rules and routinely exempts itself from the laws it passes. It does insist members be somewhat polite to one another or face toothless disciplinary action. Beyond that, there is no consequence for spreading provable lies in hearings, floor speeches or anywhere else.

We’re not talking about being incorrect here. When Democrats wailed “Bush lied, people died,” that was him being incorrect based upon faulty intelligence delivered from people whose job it is to know.

We’re talking about lies here. Provably false statements designed to misdirect and mislead the public. Democrats have made any number of such statements in the Fast and Furious hearings. They knew these statements were false, and they made them anyway to deflect and divert a legitimate investigation into the murder of hundreds as a direct result of government incompetence.

As a direct consequence of their lies, they will face…nothing.

Why not change that?

There are a few honest Members of Congress of both parties. Why not start a push to make everything in the Congressional record under oath? I’m not saying we should prosecute every “misspeak” for perjury and jail time. They’d never vote for that. But a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” policy – enter three outright, provable lies into the Congressional record, on the floor of the House or Senate, in a hearing or in official correspondences, and you’re expelled from Congress for life.

To give it even more teeth, ban those expelled from ever lobbying.

Overnight, Congress would change from the cesspool of partisanship and lies it is today into a bastion of honesty unseen since a group of 5-year olds were asked what they thought of peas.

Sure, there would be turmoil and protests over matters such as the meaning of “is.” But we’d know who ordered Fast and Furious because Democrats wouldn’t be able to hide behind their lies. We’d know when the legislation they propose imposes massive tax hikes because they’d have to tell us. We’d know when either side was using accounting gimmicks that double-count Medicare money to cook the books in whichever direction they need at the time.

It’s like a lot of things in Washington – it’ll never happen because it makes too much sense. It’s as likely to pass as term-limits because, like term limits, it requires Congress to vote to limit its own power. And, as we’ve seen recently, that’s something Congress just can’t seem to do. But we can dream…



The Current Cowardly Church Needs a Mega Dose of the Rebel Spirit

By (Pastor) Doug Giles of Clash Church

Unlike America’s original rebel Christians who dumped the Brits’ taxed tea into Boston Harbor and told King George that he could kiss their King George, today’s evangelicals, I believe—especially the dandy ministers who love to be loved—would have folded like one-ply toilet paper before British oppression. We’re a timid tufted titmouse compared to our rowdy founding forefathers.

Here are four reasons why I believe today’s evangelicals would have melted like little bon-bons during the American Revolution:

1. Some dainty saints of today think rebellion against tyrants is disobedience to God, when the converse is actually true. Yep, these stooges of the machine believe that Yahweh wants Christians to be the corralled cattle of corrupt politicians and policies. Indeed, a lot of pop evangelicals have become nicer than God. Our current craven “faithful” think it’s sinful to say bad stuff about bad elected leadership. Many somehow think it’s righteous to go in an unrighteous national direction. And we’ve got stacks of do-gooders who are turning the other cheek to political abuse and generational theft so fast that they make Shakira look arthritic.

2. A lot of evangelicals would rather live as government slaves than live and die as free men. Some do it out of sinful slothfulness, completely passive and thus complicit in the face of evil. Others do so because they actually think Christ was a Communist and that government theft and wealth redistribution somehow fulfill the Sermon on the Mount. D’oh.

3. Others, especially in the ministry, won’t say squat about our political squalor because it’ll offend the emotional members of their congregation and thereby jack with their weekly offerings, which, in turn, will cause them to lose their vacation home in Naples where they’re currently banging their mistress. Here we are during one of the most crucial elections of our lifetime, and ministers don’t (or won’t) address these issues or show up at protests. Wow. Good luck at the judgment seat. I’ve been to many, many Tea Parties up and down the east coast of Florida and have only run into a handful of ministers. Where are you, ladies? Your absence and silence during America’s demise is more obvious than Pam Anderson’s recent enhancement. Hello, Judas.

4. Another thing that irks me is this end-of-the-world Rapture mentality that, supposedly, all of this bad stuff we’re currently fielding as a nation is God’s plan for the ages and that there’s nothing we can do about it. I’m sure glad our predecessors didn’t look at the gargantuan junk they were facing during times of oppression and upheaval and say, “Oh, well. The Rapture must be right around the corner.” No, what they did was think, work, pray and fight. And guess what, end-of-the-world Christian? They yielded up this grand experiment in self-governance, that’s what.

The Church needs the biblical rebel spirit of our founders injected back into the evangelical mix instead of this squishy, pusillanimous, ignoble and compliant crapola that’s currently cranking through our indolent pulpits and pews. God help the Church to lose its cowardly, effeminate bent in these critical days. Amen.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


8 July, 2012

Israel takes out strategic insurance against any Egyptian threat to its global shipping lanes

In an age of containerization, and fast trains this is a Suez canal bypass with great potential, particularly for ships too big (above 240,000 DWT) to go through Suez. China is building 350,000 DWT ships at the moment. Could be handy in lots of ways, particularly if accompanied by Singapore-standard container turnaround time. Amusing if Israel grabbed part of the Suez canal revenue. Suez canal transit is a slow and expensive business

Israel and China have signed an agreement to build a railway connecting Israel's southernmost port of Eilat with its Mediterranean ports at Ashdod and Haifa. The joint multi-billion dollar project will give commercial shipping a ready detour around the Suez canal for vessels heading from the Med to major sea lanes in the Indian Ocean and to ports of call in eastern Africa and southern Asia. And vice versa.

However, there's more to the joint venture than mutual commercial interests, important as they are - China, an emerging world power, wants to expand global trade routes; Israel, with its booming high-tech sector, has similar objectives.

For Israel, the strategic value of this railway project may be even more important than its commercial benefits. In one stroke, it gives Israel a direct link for cargos headed to Eilat from the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea and thence to the Gulf of Aqaba and then, via the new railway, on to Europe, northern Africa and beyond via Ashdod and Haifa.

The Suez canal is taken out of the picture should Egypt -- now ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood -- entertain notions of blockading Israeli shipping. Which, strategically speaking, is not a threat to be taken lightly. The 1967 war between Israel and Egypt was triggered in part by President Nasser's blockade against Israeli shipping via the Straits of Tiran -- a vital seaway between the Gulf of Aqaba and the Red. Sea.

Later, the 1979 peace treaty between the two countries was drafted so as to stipulate that the Straits of Tiran are international waters open to one and all.

Israel's minister of transport Yisrael Katz headed a 12-member delegation that traveled to Beijing for the signing ceremony.

Part of the 20 billion shekel tab would be assumed by the China Development Industrial Bank -- with Israel heading the operational side. Chinese companies expect to win most of the construction projects.

Prime Minister Netanyahu declared the planned railway a national priority project. The 180-kilometer line is expected to cut travel time between Tel Aviv and Eilat to two hours -- a new catalyst for development of the Negev, which along with the Galilee is expected to become an increasing focus for economic and population growth for Israel in coming years.

But the strategic element stands out, as Israel puts more weight on security in a turbulent region -- made even more turbulent and uncertain by ominous results stemming from the "Arab spring." As Dr. Aaron Lerner, director of Independent Media Review Analysis, puts it: "What country in the region would have the chutzpa to interfere with the operation of a transportation system with a Chinese government connection?



Barack Obama: Socialist or Nouveau Fascist?

“Barack Obama is a socialist.” Heard that one before? Of course you have. In fact if polling is to be believed, it’s more likely than not that you have accepted this premise at some point in the not too distant past.

Two summers ago a poll conducted by Democratic strategists James Carville and Stan Greenberg found that 55 percent of registered voters nationwide believed the term socialist accurately applied to Obama. In fact 33 percent of respondents — a third of all registered voters in the nation — believed the term applied to Obama “very well.”

More recently a Pew Center survey on some of our nation’s most commonly used ideological labels revealed that 60 percent of Americans have a negative impression of the word “socialism.”

But is Obama a socialist? And if he’s not — what is he?

Certainly there is a compelling case to be made that Obama is a socialist in the contemporary sense — much like the French Socialists, who are proposing massive tax hikes on the wealthy after securing the presidency and majorities in France’s Sénat and Assemblée Nationale.

Europe is littered with such tax-and-spend parties — including Germany’s Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands and Spain’s Partido Socialista Obrero Español (both of which ruled coalition governments in their countries until 2009 and 2011, respectively).

But is 21st century European socialism — which has led to a full-blown recession and pushed the world to the brink of a second global financial crisis — really socialism in the way that Karl Marx envisioned it?

Obama has never advocated doctrinaire socialism (which is based on government ownership of private property and the means of production). Certainly he has made good on his promise to “spread the wealth around” via unprecedented government intervention in the free market, but he cannot be called a socialist in the mold of Vladimir Lenin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro or Kim Jong-Il.

“What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands,” columnist Thomas Sowell wrote recently. “That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.”

Sound familiar? This is precisely what happened during the recent recession. For example, government-mandated loans aimed at boosting homeownership were clearly among the root causes of the economic downturn – but when the sub-prime bubble burst blame was placed exclusively on “corporate greed.” Of course at the same time politicians were absolving themselves of any responsibility, they were forcing taxpayers to subsidize massive bailouts of these “greedy” financial institutions.

So if Obama isn’t a socialist, what is he? Economically speaking it’s far more accurate to say that he is a fascist — a supporter of dirigisme, in which government manages the economy through central planning, not collective ownership. Fascism did not seek to stamp out the innovative, wealth-creating potential of profit-seeking investment and entrepreneurship – instead it sought to channel those innovations (and funnel that wealth) to the good of the state.

“In fascist Italy the state pays for the blunders of private enterprise,” Italian social critic Gaetano Salvemini wrote in the mid-1930s.

When business was good, “profit remained to private initiative.” However when downturns came (as they inevitably do), “the government added the loss to the taxpayer’s burden.”

“Profit is private and individual,” Salvemini wrote. “Loss is public and social.”

This is the basis of fascism’s “third way” between laissez-faire capitalism and Marxism. It’s also precisely the economic system we see at work in America today, a centralized bureaucratic oligarchy in which farm subsidies, investments in “green jobs,” Wall Street bailouts, Export-Import Bank subsidies and numerous other taxpayer-funded incentives manipulate the market to serve specific political purposes.

Obviously the fascist analogy isn’t perfect. Unlike Obama, fascists abhorred class warfare (and labor’s efforts to foment it) because such societal divisions ran counter to their nationalist ideology. And while fascist economic policies can certainly perpetuate the redistribution of wealth, they also tend to create powerful privileged elites that leverage tax dollars and political favors so as to manipulate the market in their favor.

So is Obama’s brand of 21st century socialism/ nouveau fascism really “more insidious” than pure socialism, as Sowell suggests? Yes, because unlike socialism – the public sector never “takes a loss,” as the recent bureaucratic bailouts made clear.

Also consider this: Is any property really “private” if the government can take it based on little more than a whim? And is any sector of the economy really “private” as long as government can swoop in and set its prices and production quotas? And finally, is any market truly “free” if government can compel citizens to make specific purchases?

Of course not — all of which makes Obama’s ideology dangerous no matter what label we slap on it.



Psychological Operations and Leaving Afghanistan

The timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan is slated for 2014. It has become America's longest war of attrition. Yet all is not lost there. While the United States might not "win" the decade-long war, it is almost impossible to lose.

In a sense, there is nothing to win: Afghan culture is an embarrassment to the human condition. Even the "good guys" will kill people over a book and then sell their daughters to a septuagenarian. But there is nothing to lose, either. Lest we forget, the U.S. routed al-Qaeda and the Taliban more than ten years ago, by December 2001, with the use of just 5,200 troops. The ensuing failure of Afghan civil society is not a U.S. military defeat.

In World War II, General Douglas MacArthur famously said, "We are not retreating-we are advancing in another direction." As we begin to withdraw from Afghanistan, U.S. leaders should speak in a comparable manner. What we need is a public psychological operations strategy-or what the military now calls "Military Information Support Operations," or MISO-coupled with tangible displays of military superiority.

Win or lose, Afghanistan was always going to be at the whims of Pakistan. Thus the U.S. has a Pakistan problem, not a Taliban problem. It's Hamid Karzai with the Taliban problem. The Taliban are bad actors, no doubt, but they're essentially a hapless militia. The head of the snake is Pakistan, which covertly supports al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and every major terrorist group in South Asia. We must be clear: our eventual withdrawal from Afghanistan does not portend an American flight from South Asian politics. In fact, if we are wise, it might strengthen our leverage.

We must intensify our drone campaign throughout the "Af-Pak" theater-and talk about it openly, too. Predator drones work. They have killed thousands of top-tier terrorists and have not hurt our popularity throughout the region (we are already unpopular). The drones have, however, undermined among the indigenous population the popularity of the Taliban. If someone in your village were liable to get bombed at any moment, at some point you would want to kick him out of your village.

Our air campaign has struck fear into the hearts of the enemy. Terror chieftain Ustadh Ahmad Farooq was quoted as saying: "There were many areas where we once had freedom, but now they have been lost. We are the ones that are losing people; we are the ones facing shortages of resources. Our land is shrinking and drones are flying in the sky." American leaders should be citing quotes like this publicly. Bringing to light the enemy's private fears is effective psychological warfare.

Although there are some slippery-slope arguments against the use of Predator drones, we should not doubt their efficacy. The conventional wisdom once suggested that the more we bombed, the more we would "inflame" hatred against us. But just the opposite is true. The more air supremacy we display over our al-Qaeda and Taliban adversaries, the more they doubt themselves and their actions. The truth is this: when our Islamist enemies have been irrefutably whipped on the battlefield, they are not enraged, but rather humbled, and are more prone to second-guess the divine sanction of their cause. Allah doesn't like losers, you see. This was Osama bin Laden's old "strong horse" logic: a neutral man will not gravitate to a weak horse.

The Taliban's boasts that they can fight forever must be countered with visible exhibitions of U.S. dominance. Good-natured humor would help, too. President Reagan used humor with devastating effect against the Soviets. Today, American politicians will go to great lengths to embarrass and humiliate their political opponents, but refrain from mocking our undying enemies. This is unfortunate, as our enemies in Afghanistan and Pakistan are largely incompetent and worthy of ridicule.

This worked in Iraq. The U.S. military released a video of insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi unable to work his weapon, shattering his image as a military mastermind. The terrorists' cause would be greatly damaged should our national leaders use similar tactics on a more consistent basis. It would be nice to hear a U.S. official or general officer speak of the Taliban's widespread pedophilic treatment of young Afghan boys, or make the Seinfeldian observation that al-Qaeda spends too much time working out on the monkey bars. This, above all, will drive the enemy nuts: they do not want to be laughed at.

Advocates of the current strategy argue that our abandonment of the nation-building project will result in al-Qaeda and the Taliban reestablishing their bases throughout Afghanistan (from which they would plot more attacks). There are three counterpoints to this argument. First, the 9/11 attacks were planned in apartments in Hamburg, Germany, not in Afghan training camps. Second, the enemy has long goaded us into making this a war of attrition- M16s vs. AK-47s-and we have unfortunately obliged. But we do not have to fight the war on their terms. There are smarter, more cost-effective ways to fight our nation's enemies than "teaching toothless villagers how to brush their teeth," in the words of Col. Ralph Peters.

Third, the U.S. has aerial technologies today that did not exist in 2001 when the war began. Should the terrorists be dumb enough to coalescence into specified, observable camps, we would simply be able to target them that much quicker. We should openly encourage them-dare them, even-to reestablish those training camps. Hell, maybe they'll even hold parades like Hezbollah. They'd last ten minutes. It's unsettling that more senior officials do not share this confidence. Such a "worst-case" scenario would be indistinguishable from Yemen or Somalia, for which we successfully use a fly-swatter strategy (Predator drones, Special Forces, and aid to indigenous allies). Let's stop pretending like Afghanistan is the Gates of Vienna. It's not. It's Mars. Our strategic focus should be on Iran and Pakistan.

We should show more assurance and less worry regarding the outcome in Afghanistan. The entire theater should be inundated with fliers from the sky, translated into Pashto, Arabic, and Farsi. They should contain a photograph of the Wright brothers, and they should read: "This was human aviation in 1901. More than a century has passed and you still cannot get off the ground. We will be overhead forever." As we "retreat" in the coming years, the point must be made that we are, in fact, advancing in another direction-that we can continue the fight, at low cost, on our terms, indefinitely.



This should be celebrated

The more the terminally corrupt United Nations is discredited, the better

[Canadian] Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird calls it a "sick joke" that the government of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad could get a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

"It would do irreparable damage to the United Nations and likely would be the biggest blow that the United Nations has taken since its formation," Baird said during a teleconference Friday after the Friends of the Syrian People meeting in Paris. "What Assad needs to be facing is the International Criminal Court to face charges for committing crimes against humanities, he and his henchmen."
Syria is a candidate in the 2013 election for seats on the council.

The council condemned Syria on Friday for human rights violations, but UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer says it watered down a U.S. proposal to specifically rule out Syria's candidacy.

"We had a reference that all countries need to the meet the standards of membership, but there was no express rejection of Syria's candidacy," Neuer told QMI Agency. "At this point, the possibility that Syria will run next year is still on the table."

Neuer says it's also worrisome that Canada and other western governments haven't spoken out about Pakistan and Venezuela likely winning council seats in November.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly criticized the governments of both countries.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


7 July, 2012


6 July, 2012

13 Ways Obamacare Will Ruin Your Life

This document will not even begin to detail the unforeseeable ways that “Obamacare” will impact the freedoms and livelihoods of American citizens. America has bought in to what will likely be more government insertion into our lives and homes, if we do not act wisely in this next election.

It is our irresponsibility as a nation that we must now correct. We must show our disapproval by removing from office those who threaten to chip away at our freedoms, and tax us heavily for the advancement of big government.

Do you know why you MUST vote those responsible for Obamacare out of offiice? Consider the following…

ALARMING FACT #1: Individuals/Families must carry Health Insurance – OR ELSE!

(See Public Law 111–148 Sec. 5000A. Requirement to Maintain to Minimum Essential Coverage)

Whether you agree with their decision or not, some individuals or families decide not to carry health insurance for a variety of reasons. Perhaps they are young, and have decided to spend their money on other things. Perhaps they believe the insurance industry is corrupt, and they choose not to carry coverage. Perhaps they participate in alternative services such as Samaritan Ministries Healthcare insurance. Perhaps they choose not to have it….just because.

We are obligated as American citizens to act lawfully and pay taxes. Otherwise, there is freedom of choice. We choose whether or not to vote. Should we vote? Absolutely! Does everyone vote, no indeed. As an American, do you have the right to decide which commodities you will purchase, and what services you will procure? Not any more!!! As of 2014, you will be required to carry a government-approved health insurance plan. If you don’t – you will be penalized (i.e. – taxed.) You will be taxed for your decision not to do something.

Let’s compare it to what we are taxed for today. You want to own property – expect to pay a property tax. You want to buy a television – expect to pay a sales tax. You want to drive your car – expect to pay a gas tax. But, it’s also your right NOT to do those things. In that case, there is no tax to pay. The ruling of the Supreme Court, and the law itself now allows government to “tax” you for NOT purchasing something. Will this be the beginning of a new precedent? What behavior can we expect to be taxed on in the future? If this doesn’t outrage you, then what will?

The American’s right to healthcare isn’t the issue at hand. We can all generally agree that our healthcare system must be reformed, but not at the expense of the American citizen’s freedom to choose.

ALARMING FACT #2: Employers must provide health insurance for their employees – OR ELSE!

(See Public Law 111–148 Sec. 1513. Shared Responsibility for Employers)

This doesn’t seem like a bad thing does it? After all, employers should offer health insurance to their employees, right? And, since this only affects companies with more than 50 employees, what’s to worry about? Why shouldn’t “big” companies offer health insurance? Here are two potential fall-out scenarios that will answer the question “why not?”

1. We can all agree that the economy is in trouble. Jobs are precious. Employers are cutting costs and eliminating jobs every day. Now, let’s introduce a government mandate requiring employers to increase their costs and offer health insurance to their employees. Who is going to absorb that cost? The employer? Likely, the employee is going to feel the “cost” of this insurance in his/her own back pocket. The salary of that employee will inevitably drop (or get redirected) to cover the amount that the new health insurance plan is going to cost the employer. Or, if the employer fails to offer coverage, perhaps the employee’s compensation will drop by the amount of the tax (i.e. – the fine) the employer will pay for not offering coverage. Either way, the employee is the one who will probably pay the price. So, while the employee’s total compensation may not be altered, the drop in his/her take-home pay may seriously affect that individual’s (or his/her family’s) bottom-line. This will be an ever-increasing burden for low to middle income wage earners, as the costs for coverage increases.

2. The employer may decide that it’s cheaper, in the short-term, to pay the tax rather than cover the bill for each employee’s health insurance plan. At least for the next few years, the cost of paying the tax is cheaper than the cost of the insurance policy. (I can even see employers who currently offer health insurance plans deciding that they might want to dump coverage and pay the tax, and let their employees go get a government-sponsored plan.) By the time the cost of the tax (i.e. – fine) is as much or more than the cost of that employer covering the health insurance premium, the damage will have been done. Everyone will have moved from private insurance coverage into the government-operated plans, and private insurance companies will be defunct. Perhaps this is exactly what the government wants! Perhaps they want employers to pay the fines so that we can move to a government controlled health care system. Don’t think that is a reasonable conclusion? Think about this:

Let’s compare the two entities who will offer coverage. Private insurance companies will offer coverage to individuals. Those private insurance companies are in business for profit. The government will also offer government-sponsored plans. The government is billions of dollars in debt, and yet they keep adding to that debt. Does the government seem the least bit concerned about making a profit? What private insurance company is going to be able to compete with the rates of the government-sponsored insurance plan? Add to that the fact that the law now requires private health insurance providers to pay an annual fee based on each individual company’s share of the total market. Ultimately, even if the private insurance companies are able to make money, they’ll be fined as a result. Do you think our government isn’t moving us toward a government-controlled health care system? Think again. They’ve done such a fine job with the health and state of our nation. NOT! Why would we even begin to want them in charge of our health care?

ALARMING FACT #3: You must pay for coverage you might not need.

(See Public Law 111–148 Sec. 1302. Essential Health Benefits Requirements)

Again, whether you agree with it or not, we have always been afforded the right to decide what kind of insurance coverage we’d like to pay for (or none at all). The new law requires that the following services must be covered by an individual’s policy: Ambulatory patient services, Emergency services, Hospitalization, Maternity and newborn care, Mental health and substance use disorder services, including behavioral health treatment, Prescription drugs, Rehabilitative and habilitative services and devices, Laboratory services, Preventive and wellness services and chronic disease management, Pediatric services, including oral and vision care.

What if you’re a single male? It doesn’t matter, you must still pay for a plan that offers maternity care. What if you have no children? It doesn’t matter, you still must have newborn care and pediatric services on your plan. In short, you are helping to fund services for others by being charged for services that you do not, and perhaps will never need.

Food for thought: Do you see the theme throughout this document? Free isn’t free! Who is paying for this wonderful new health plan for all Americans? YOU! Even more importantly, your freedom isn’t free. Your freedom to choose is being heavily taxed.

Oh yes, and the lawmakers who think this is such a great idea – they have exempted themselves from participating. How nice for them!

We must show our government our extreme dissatisfaction and disapproval, and vote these politicians, who are so willing to spend our hard-earned money for us, OUT OF OFFICE!

Much more HERE


Is the NYT the sole authority on Jew-hatred?

So it works out that Iran's vice president really hates Jews. In fact, he hates Jews so much that even The New York Times reported it. On Tuesday, the Times published an account of Iranian Vice President Mohammad-Reza Rahimi's speech before a UN forum on fighting drug addiction in Tehran.

Rahimi claimed that Jews control the illegal drug trade. We sell drugs, he said, in order to fulfill what he said is a Talmudic writ to "destroy everyone who opposes the Jews."

He said that our conspiracy is obvious since, he claimed, there are no Jewish drug addicts. He went so far as to promise to pay anyone who can find a Jewish drug addict.

As he put it, "The Islamic Republic of Iran will pay for anybody who can research and find one single Zionist who is an addict. They do not exist. This is the proof of their involvement in drugs trade."

Oops, sorry, he doesn't hate Jews. He hates Zionists. Some of his best friends are Jews.

At least that is what the Times would have us believe. As reporter Thomas Erdbrink put it, "'Zionists' is Iran's ideological term for Jews who support the state of Israel."

He also helpfully noted, "More than 25,000 Jews live in Iran, and they are recognized as a religious minority, with a representative in Parliament."

Aside from that, just so we don't get the wrong impression about the Iranian government, Erdbrink calmed us down by noting, therapeutically, "Several Iranian ministers gave politically neutral briefings on the impact of the drug trade on the country."

So aside from the fact that its vice president is a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Semite, the Iranian regime is perfectly respectable. Nothing to see here folks, move on.

Except, of course, that this is not the case.

Iran's "Supreme Leader" routinely refers to Israel as a cancer. For instance, in a sermon before thousands of Muslim worshipers in February, Ali Khamenei said, "The Zionist regime is a cancerous tumor and it will be removed."

Then there's Rahimi's direct boss, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who can't ask what the weather is like without calling for the annihilation of the Jewish people.

But then he too usually calls us Jews "Zionists," (which most of us are), so his calls for the genocide of Jewry is really just a political statement and not proof that what moves him when he wakes up in the morning and goes to bed at night is a passionate, obsessive desire to murder an entire people.

Many commentators seized on Erdbrink's write-up of Rahimi's diatribe as further proof that the civilized world cannot permit Iran to acquire nuclear weapons. And that is fair enough.

Of course Iran cannot be permitted to acquire nuclear weapons. They are religious fanatics who rule under a deranged banner of messianic genocide.

BUT THE real issue here is that these commentators felt it necessary to seize on the Times' write-up of Rahimi's speech to make this obvious point. That is, the real issue here isn't the Iranians. The real issue is the Western media. From the New York Times to the BBC to the European media, Jew-hatred is the most under-reported - and arguably most important story - of our times.

No issue unites the Muslim world more than venomous, murderous hatred of Jews.

No single issue informs their foreign policies more than hatred of Jews. And yet, reporting - even biased, misleadingly understated reporting - of this massive, strategically pivotal phenomenon is almost nonexistent in most major media outlets. As a consequence, it is a major event when the Times finally publishes an anemic report about it. And again, even that report hides the real story.

Erdbrink ended his report by quoting an unnamed European diplomat who was in Rahimi's audience at the conference. The diplomat told him that on the one hand, "This was definitely one of the worst speeches I have heard in my life. My gut reaction was: Why are we supporting any cooperation with these people?"

But, lest we reach any policy conclusions from Rahimi's bigotry, the diplomat soothed, "If we do not support the United Nations on helping Iran fight drugs, voices like the one of Mr. Rahimi will be the only ones out there."

What both Erdbrink and his European interlocutor failed to acknowledge is that Rahimi won't be punished for his views. He was promoted because of his views. Helping Iran fight drugs doesn't encourage non-genocidal Iranian politicians. It legitimizes the regime that promoted Rahimi and Ahmadinejad and Khamenei and every other powerful politician and military commander because of their hatred of Jews.

The Western media has two basic approaches to their non-reporting of Islamic Jew-hatred and its significance for international security. The first approach is to ignore the issue because it is ideologically inconvenient.

The New York Times, like every other major Western media outlet except The Wall Street Journal, is of the opinion that the Islamic world should be appeased. The Muslim Brotherhood and Iran should be accommodated.

If they gave Islamic Jew-hatred coverage commensurate with its actual significance, they would be undermining their ideological agenda. In light of their ubiquitous and vituperative obsession with Jewish people, it is obvious that it is impossible to appease the Muslim world.

The second approach to contending with Islamic Jew-hatred is to justify it by claiming that Israel has earned all the hate coming its way. It's "political" they say. The Islamic demonization of Jews is understandable given the Palestinians and all that.

Obviously, both of these approaches to the story of Islamic Jew-hatred are appalling. The former approach involves a breach of the very concept of objective journalism. After all, the purpose of journalism is to report on the world as it is, not as we would like it to be.

And the latter approach is no less bigoted than the hatred it serves to whitewash. The European diplomat's gut reaction to Rahimi's speech, "Why are we supporting any cooperation with these people?" was entirely rational.

AND IF Rahimi's hatred had been directed against any other people, race, creed, state or color, no one would support cooperation with "these people."

No one would support the Palestinian national movement if its inherent, overwhelming hatred was directed, say, against the black state rather than the Jewish state....

On the face of it, it can be argued that the Western media's willful blindness towards Islamic Jew-hatred and its influence on world affairs are part and parcel of the Western elite's collective refusal to recognize and contend with the implications of the phenomenon.

But this is too forgiving. Policy-makers who ignore Islamic Jew-hatred are doing so because they are trying to sell their policies. What's the New York Times' excuse?

The media are supposed to report facts, not shape perceptions. The facts, not the perceptions are supposed to inform policy. That is, they are not supposed to collaborate with policy-makers, they are supposed to inform policy-makers and the general public.

And this leads us back to the well-meaning commentators who seized on Erdbrink's report about how Iran's vice president believes that Jews - sorry Zionists - are monsters, and used it as proof that Iran cannot be permitted to get the bomb. Yes, of course, they are right that it is worth re-quoting his vile remarks to make the point.

But by quoting the Times, they may be scoring a couple of tactical points today, but they are losing a long-term strategic battle. They are giving respectability to a media organ that is consummately unworthy of our respect. They are giving respectability to a news organ with an institutional policy of denying, underreporting, and misleadingly reporting about the most important issue that shapes events in the Middle East today: Islamic hatred of Jews.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


5 July, 2012

Essential Liberty

In honor of the establishment and preservation of Essential Liberty, we offer a few remarks from an young American Patriot standing watch on the front lines in Afghanistan, followed by insights from our Founding Fathers, as fitting reminders of the constant vigil which must be maintained in defense of Liberty.

Wisdom from the Warfront -- Enemies Foreign and Domestic:

"As an officer who faces combat challenges daily, and who has experienced my share of heartache in defense of our great nation in accordance with my oath, it pains me to see our elected 'leaders' so willfully defy their oaths to support our Constitution. But, war has taught me that we just take today at our best, because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

"The seemingly insurmountable battle to salvage what is left of American Liberty simply means God will provide a great movement and great leaders to get the job done in His timing. While we may see no solution, it's undoubtedly already in the making and I can only pray that He continues to use me in His service, along with all the other great Americans Patriots across our country.

"Battles would not be great and triumphant if they were easy. The more the Left undermines Rule of Law, the more glorious the reconstitution and restoration will be, the mightier the battle, and the mightier the men who will fight it. I simply pray that I continue to grow to fight that war, just as I am fighting this one, and that God preserves me to do so. God provided us with the means and the personal example to triumph over the greatest of evils, He has provided us with the solutions to our own problems, we simply must trust it is within His plan.

"Keep fighting the good fight, do not despair on the 4th of July, but celebrate that Providence provided us with the greatest blueprint for governments among men in 1789, with the spirit of 1776. As Alexander Hamilton said, 'The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the Hand of Divinity itself, and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.' Our rights are only referenced by the Declaration, but endowed by our Creator, and as such, are self-evident. Obama cannot erase them and long after we are dead and gone, the rights of man will be preserved in the essence of God's creation available only through reflection in His gift of reason. Evil ultimately will not prevail -- we are blueprinted with Victory."



Obamacare: 21 New or Higher Taxes

Ryan Ellis puts together some important data on the tax impact of Obamacare:

1. Individual Mandate Excise Tax(Jan 2014): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying "qualifying" health insurance must pay an income surtax according to the higher of the following

1 Adult 2 Adults 3+ Adults
2014 1% AGI/$95 1% AGI/$190 1% AGI/$285
2015 2% AGI/$325 2% AGI/$650 2% AGI/$975
2016 + 2.5% AGI/$695 2.5% AGI/$1390 2.5% AGI/$2085

Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases (determined by HHS)

2. Employer Mandate Tax(Jan 2014):  If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $2000 for all full-time employees.  This provision applies to all employers with 50 or more employees. If any employee actually receives coverage through the exchange, the penalty on the employer for that employee rises to $3000. If the employer requires a waiting period to enroll in coverage of 30-60 days, there is a $400 tax per employee ($600 if the period is 60 days or longer). Combined score of individual and employer mandate tax penalty: $65 billion/10 years

3. Surtax on Investment Income ($123 billion/Jan. 2013):  This increase involves the creation of a new, 3.8 percent surtax on investment income earned in households making at least $250,000 ($200,000 single).  This would result in the following top tax rates on investment income

Capital Gains Dividends Other*
2010-2012 15% 15% 35%
2013+ (current law) 23.8% 43.4% 43.4%
2013+ (Obama budget) 23.8% 23.8% 43.4%

  *Other unearned income includes (for surtax purposes) gross income from interest, annuities, royalties, net rents, and passive income in partnerships and Subchapter-S corporations.  It does not include municipal bond interest or life insurance proceeds, since those do not add to gross income.  It does not include active trade or business income, fair market value sales of ownership in pass-through entities, or distributions from retirement plans.  The 3.8% surtax does not apply to non-resident aliens.  

4. Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans($32 bil/Jan 2018): Starting in 2018, new 40 percent excise tax on "Cadillac" health insurance plans ($10,200 single/$27,500 family). For early retirees and high-risk professions exists a higher threshold ($11,500 single/$29,450 family).  CPI +1 percentage point indexed.

5. Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax($86.8 bil/Jan 2013)

6. Medicine Cabinet Tax($5 bil/Jan 2011): Americans no longer able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin)

7. HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike($1.4 bil/Jan 2011): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

8. Flexible Spending Account Cap - aka"Special Needs Kids Tax"($13 bil/Jan 2013): Imposes cap of $2500 (Indexed to inflation after 2013) on FSAs (now unlimited). There is one group of FSA owners for whom this new cap will be particularly cruel and onerous: parents of special needs children.  There are thousands of families with special needs children in the United States, and many of them use FSAs to pay for special needs education.  Tuition rates at one leading school that teaches special needs children in Washington, D.C. (National Child Research Center) can easily exceed $14,000 per year. Under tax rules, FSA dollars can be used to pay for this type of special needs education. 

9. Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers($20 bil/Jan 2013): Medical device manufacturers employ 360,000 people in 6000 plants across the country. This law imposes a new 2.3% excise tax.  Exemptions include items retailing for less than $100. 

10. Raise "Haircut" for Medical Itemized Deduction from 7.5% to 10% of AGI($15.2 bil/Jan 2013): Currently, those facing high medical expenses are allowed a deduction for medical expenses to the extent that those expenses exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income (AGI).  The new provision imposes a threshold of 10 percent of AGI; it is waived for 65+ taxpayers in 2013-2016 only.

11. Tax on Indoor Tanning Services($2.7 billion/July 1, 2010): New 10 percent excise tax on Americans using indoor tanning salons

12. Elimination of tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D($4.5 bil/Jan 2013)

13. Blue Cross/Blue Shield Tax Hike($0.4 bil/Jan 2010): The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services

14. Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals(Min$/immediate): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new "community health assessment needs," "financial assistance," and "billing and collection" rules set by HHS

15. Tax on Innovator Drug Companies($22.2 bil/Jan 2010): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year.

16. Tax on Health Insurers($60.1 bil/Jan 2014): Annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year. The stipulation phases in gradually until 2018, and is fully-imposed on firms with $50 million in profits.    



The Joy of Government-Run Healthcare: The UK’s Gilded Bureaucrats and Dying Patients

I’m not sure whether this is a post about America’s dismal future if Obamacare is allowed to take root or whether this is a post about bureaucrats ripping off taxpayers.

But I do know that it shows that the insiders take care of themselves quite nicely when the government seizes more control of a nation’s healthcare sector.

Here’s a report from the UK-based Telegraph about how bureaucrats at a Scottish branch of the National Health Service are bilking taxpayers.

National Procurement, a branch of the NHS National Services Division, arranged for staff who are deemed to be “regular users” of cars for business to get the cars through a taxpayer-backed vehicle-leasing scheme. …Figures provided by National Procurement in response to a Freedom of Information request showed that…one in eight members of staff, had used the 4x4s and convertibles to drive to work. Much of the insurance, petrol, road tax and leasing is funded by the state.

And we’re not talking cheap automobiles. Keep in mind, when you read this next passage, that £25,000 is almost $40,000.

One employee was leased a £27,000 Mercedes, while three other workers have been driving £23,000 S-line Audi A3 sports cars. Another employee received a £28,300 Audi TT. Since the beginning of this year, five new cars have been leased to staff, including a four-door BMW worth more than £30,500. Other leased vehicles include another Audi sports car worth more than £25,000 and three Range Rover Evoques costing up to £29,500.

So how do they work this scam? Simple, they take needless trips.

…staff have had to clock up a minimum of 5000 business miles during office hours to qualify for the scheme. …A department source told the Herald newspaper that some members of staff were using their leased cars for 80-mile round trips between National Procurement’s two offices, in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, and South Gyle in Edinburgh, even though there are adequate video conferencing facilities at both locations.

One hopes that this scandal in a Scottish branch is an exception and that most bureaucrats don’t behave in a similarly reprehensible fashion.

But given the bloated size of the National Health Service bureaucracy, it’s more likely that this is just the tip of the iceberg.

There is an entitlement culture in most government bureaucracies, and I would be shocked in the paper pushers and memo writers hadn’t figured out how to manipulate the system

And since there are more than 1.6 million of them, the magnitude of the fraud is presumably enormous.

The obvious follow-up question is whether taxpayers in the United Kingdom are getting some good value from this army of cosseted bureaucrats?

Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Here are some chilling excerpts from a story in the Daily Mail.

NHS doctors are prematurely ending the lives of thousands of elderly hospital patients because they are difficult to manage or to free up beds, a senior consultant claimed yesterday. Professor Patrick Pullicino said doctors had turned the use of a controversial ‘death pathway’ into the equivalent of euthanasia… There are around 450,000 deaths in Britain each year of people who are in hospital or under NHS care. Around 29 per cent – 130,000 – are of patients who were on the LCP. Professor Pullicino claimed that far too often elderly patients who could live longer are placed on the LCP and it had now become an ‘assisted death pathway rather than a care pathway’.

Here are a couple of horrifying examples.

Professor Pullicino revealed he had personally intervened to take a patient off the LCP who went on to be successfully treated. He said this showed that claims they had hours or days left are ‘palpably false’. In the example he revealed a 71-year-old who was admitted to hospital suffering from pneumonia and epilepsy was put on the LCP by a covering doctor on a weekend shift. Professor Pullicino said he had returned to work after a weekend to find the patient unresponsive and his family upset because they had not agreed to place him on the LCP. ‘I removed the patient from the LCP despite significant resistance,’ he said. ‘His seizures came under control and four weeks later he was discharged home to his family,’ he said.

In other words, government-run healthcare in the United Kingdom is a great scam if you’re an insider. But not such a good deal if you’re someone who needs, well, healthcare.

Sort of makes you wonder what Paul Krugman was thinking when he wrote, “In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.”

I guess the English newspapers are making up stories to denigrate their own nation. If you want to see more of these “false” stories, click here, herehereherehereherehereherehere, here and here.


Also see EYE ON BRITAIN for daily updates on the NHS



Affordable Health Care Act: Not affordable: "Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of Obama Care and the individual mandate to purchase health insurance or pay a fine, individuals are starting to face the sobering reality that the costs of health care and health care insurance are going to go up -- way up -- instead of down"

Obama’s victory is now his challenge: "'In my first term, we passed healthcare reform,' President Obama joked this spring. 'In my second term, I guess I'll pass it again.' Thanks to the Supreme Court, Obama can take that item off his agenda. But Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. guaranteed Thursday that healthcare will still be at the center of this year's presidential race."

Mexican politics: "Thousands of people rushed to stores on Tuesday to redeem prepaid gift cards they said were given them by the party that won Mexico’s presidency, inflaming accusations that the election was marred by massive vote-buying. At least a few cardholders were angry, complaining they didn’t get as much as promised."

How Amazon survives the State: "Here's a snapshot from the American landscape of convoluted crony capitalism: starting this September, if a man in Los Angeles buys a book from Amazon.com, the local sales tax he pays could go to the city of San Bernardino, which will then give 80 percent of the tax money back to Amazon itself."

We’re all socialists now, except for libertarians: "The Sunday edition of the New York Times published an interesting article that is certain to make some Americans who read it uncomfortable. Why is that? Because the article, which is entitled, 'What’s a Socialist?' makes a point that many ordinary Americans hate hearing: that by adopting the welfare state, Americans in principle became socialists, just like Europeans."


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


4 July, 2012

Two Muslim men suspected of trying to hijack a flight in China were beaten to death by passengers

I won't comment on the obvious comparison but it cries out for explanation

Two men who allegedly tried to hijack a plane in China were beaten to death by passengers and crew, state media said today. The men were part of a six-strong gang, aged 20 to 36, who attempted to hijack a Tianjin Airlines flight bound for Urumqi last Friday.

Minutes after the flight carrying 101 people took off from Hetian, southwest Xinjiang, three men in the front and three in the back stood up and announced their plans to terrified passengers, according to reports.

The group, all from the city of Kashgar in the west of Xinjiang, then broke a pair of aluminum crutches and used the pieces to attack passengers while trying to break into the cockpit, a regional government spokesman said.

They were tackled by police and passengers who tied them up with belts before the plane returned to the airport safely just 22 minutes later.

Several passengers and crew members were injured in the tussle. The alleged hijackers were taken to hospital where two of them later died, the state-run Global Times reported.

The newspaper said two others were hospitalised after mutilating themselves, but gave no others details.

The regional government spokesman added the men had smuggled suspected explosives on board. These were still being tested by police today.

Xinjiang is home to a large population of minority [Muslim] Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurs), but is ruled by China's ethnic majority Hans.

There have been clashes between authorities and Uighurs resentful of government controls over their religion and culture.



Is Fourth of July still worth celebrating?

"After a long nasty war these colonies coalesced into a nation-state that called itself the United States of America. It was a constitutional republic based on self-rule operating under a document meant to guarantee minimal government coercion and maximum individual freedom. That country no longer exists."



Freedom and Frugality

I am told there is an Italian saying that translates as “It is raining again… PIG OF A GOVERNMENT!” The saying makes me wince because I can see myself raising a fist and shaking it in reproach at the drizzling sky. I spend so much time railing against statism that I risk defining myself by what I oppose. I risk taking the state inside me and allowing it to filter my approach to life.

This is another reason to Go Galt: to reclaim an unfiltered life and carpe the heck out of every diem. One of the ways to do so is deceptively simple. For want of a better word, it is “frugality,” by which I mean something quite different than most people.

For centuries, the North American way has been for people to work harder and earn more to ensure that their children had a better life. For centuries, the strategy succeeded. But today’s children are more likely to be crushed by debt than to inherit their parents’ wealth. Today, hard work is discouraged and punished. It is discouraged by a maze of regulations that police home businesses, for example. It is punished by soaring taxes and disappearing retirement funds.

Meanwhile, the political elites maintain power by draining productivity from society and funneling it into entitlements for the unproductive. As white-hot printing presses increase both the currency supply and prices, the average working person reaches out for some control of his own economic future.

Many people turn to frugality in response to economic bad times. That is, they view it as a necessary, but bitter pill they are forced to swallow, but would rather spit out. Viewing frugality as a form of poverty, they are driven to it through desperation, rather than a desire to increase control over their lives. To them, frugality must be a dreary thing, but in my life, the contrary is true.

A few years ago, my view of frugality changed due to an obvious realization that I had never fully grasped before. Material goods cost money; money is acquired in exchange for my time; my time is literally my life. If X costs $100 and I make $25 an hour, then X costs me four hours of life. Or rather, it costs four hours plus whatever time is consumed by the transaction costs of making money, such as the time and expense of a commute.

This was a paradigm shift for me. I ceased viewing possessions in terms of money and saw them in terms of time. And my time is a scarce good. The hours available can sometimes feel boundless, and it is easy to fall into the trap of valuing each unit as if it were part of an infinite supply. Of course, it is not. There are only so many hours left for me to live.

With no morbidity, I apply a version of “marginal utility” to those hours. This economic law says that a person values the first unit of a thing according to its highest use and values subsequent units less. For example, if you have one unit of water, then you value it highly for staving off dehydration and death. If you have a large number of units, then you value the last one for watering a house plant. You would be willing to spend far more for the first unit than for the last. I try to view my hours as though each one were a first unit and, so, highly valuable.

When I look in my closet, many possessions now represent wasted time: a dress I never wear, shoes that go with nothing… I won’t waste more time reproaching myself, but I need to learn a lesson from that closet. I traded irreplaceable units of my life for possessions I do not value; I call these possessions “the useless shoes of life.” They are things that are neither necessary nor worth the time I traded to acquire them. Instead, I could have been reading or writing, laughing with friends or watching movies with my husband.

And then there are the purchases I will never regret: books, DVDs, my sporty little econocar, our farm, the ingredients for a superb meal. Those items provide a utility that is well worth the cost. And yes, I include pleasure as a “utility.” Pleasure is one of the most useful things in the world. It makes you spring out of bed with energy in the morning; it makes you fall asleep with a smile on your face at night. But even pleasure should be balanced against the cost in time and purchased at bargain rates, if possible.

People respond to the idea of possessions representing units of their lives in different ways.

Some people redouble their efforts to earn more and so reduce the amount of time that any one purchase represents. This is a return to the traditional American dream: Work hard and prosper economically. I wish these people the best, but their choice is not mine. At this point, I find it difficult to understand why anyone would spend years at a job they don’t enjoy in order to own a bigger home than they can use, especially since the upkeep absorbs more time and cash. The trade-off doesn’t make sense.

Also, for the political reasons mentioned earlier, I no longer believe the American dream is functioning.

My choice is to earn and spend less in order to control my own time and to avoid fueling the State through more taxes. I have called this choice “frugality,” but some people are more comfortable with the term “voluntary simplicity.” The point of such simplicity is not to save every possible penny. It is to ensure that your time and money are expended on your goals. Voluntary simplicity can be viewed as a “business plan” for getting the most out of life. Ask yourself what your goals are and what is necessary to get there. Of equal importance, ask what is not necessary.

Every person will have a different answer. Some of my choices, for example, seem to run counter to frugality. For one thing, I live on a 40-acre farm, not in a small apartment. The choice is odd only if you equate frugality with cheapness, however. If you equate it with spending your resources to achieve your own values, then the farm is eminently frugal. An apartment would be cheaper, but it would also impoverish my life: no dogs, no walks down a gravel road, no garden, no privacy…

I look forward to my garden each spring and to cooking complicated ethnic meals so that the aromas of the world flood my kitchen. I intend to travel and experience the places that fired my fantasies as a child; someday, I will know what the stars look like in Africa and how a jungle smells. Rather than diverting time into “useless shoes,” I intend to live.

That is, after all, the purpose of freedom.



Obamacare was not killed off but it is still terminally ill

The Supreme Court’s upholding of the Obamacare legislation on Thursday does not settle the healthcare question because that legislation is largely unworkable. Equally, the pre-Obamacare U.S. healthcare system was unsatisfactory in a number of ways and becoming progressively more so. Under the assumption that either in 2013 or 2017 Congress and a new Administration will sit down and try to design a more rational healthcare system, I thought it worth outlining the basics of what such a system might entail.

It is unlikely that the Obamacare legislation will survive in the long term. First, it controls costs by capping Medicare payments and by the Independent Payment Advisory Board restricting expensive treatments. This is likely to be as unpopular and ineffective in the United States as is the equivalent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (the Orwellianly named “NICE”) in Britain. Over time, both measures will also result in the degradation of healthcare quality. Second, the system will only work effectively if the tax on not joining becomes high enough to ensure universal participation. This will cause hardship in the lower income brackets that will be highly unpopular and become a political issue. As healthcare costs continue to rise, both for the state and for participating individuals, the demand for further healthcare reform will become overwhelming.

Start with the liberal demand that the impoverished should not go without health insurance. Phrasing the demand in that way itself increases costs, because it interposes a third party, an insurance company, between consumers and producers. In a free market, consumers and producers negotiate directly, thus ensuring that costs are minimized and quality maximized. Poor people have a right to healthcare, but they do not have a right to purchase that healthcare through insurance, and it makes no sense that they should.

Currently, the impoverished have two mechanisms by which healthcare is delivered to them. First, if their income is sufficiently low and they are fully documented in the U.S. bureaucracy, they have a right to Medicaid, which provides healthcare of variable quality and is paid for through taxes on the general population. Second, even if they are not fully accounted for in the state bureaucracy (for example, illegal immigrants, but also including the transient unemployed and the mentally ill) the hospitals have an obligation to provide emergency care if it is needed. In that sense therefore, few are denied healthcare altogether. However if even middle income people contract one of the ailments that requires huge amounts of spending to overcome it, they will end up with bankrupting medical bills and their life will be ruined.

The bankrupting effect of healthcare bills is exacerbated by two anomalies of the medical care payments system (apart from the excess costs of medical treatment generally, which I’ll get to). First, the emergency room mandate on hospitals, imposed by legislation in 1986, is entirely without compensation to them. Naturally, the hospitals have to pay for these services from somewhere, and they do so by raising rates on other customers. Second, the big insurance companies negotiate discounts with the hospital chains, which lessen their effect by raising their nominal rates, imposing inflated charges on the unfortunates who seek treatment paid for directly, without insurance. This combination of effects results in hospitals near big cities charging $10,000 per night for use of their facilities, an outrageous amount even in areas where a top-class hotel room can run as high as $500-600. Price gouging at this level, resulting in hospital costs five or ten times the full costs of hospitals in Europe, destroys the integrity of the system and makes it impossible to deal with.

Three other areas of excess systemic cost also need to be removed. First, the litigiousness of U.S. society has led to an immense class of parasitic lawyers attaching themselves to healthcare, their costs and settlements costing about 1.5-2% of GDP. When malpractice insurance for a newly registered doctor runs well north of $100,000, doctors’ earnings need to be inflated commensurately, not only by the $100,000 directly but also by the additional cost of the early years of practice, in which a doctor may be paying the full insurance premium but not yet earning enough to cover it.

Second, the insurance and legal bureaucracy surrounding medical care has made it uneconomic in many areas for doctors to operate as sole practitioners. In consequence, large clinics have been able to take over much medical practice. The result is lower earnings for the clinic doctors and inferior care for the patients, who find there is no alternative to visiting bureaucratically managed clinics in which personal knowledge of patients is impossible.

Whereas U.S. medical treatment thirty years ago was of incomparable quality, far better than available elsewhere, this is no longer the case. The belief among the general public that “doctors don’t make house calls” is valid, and is not adequately compensated for by the greater technological sophistication and lower error rate of today’s medicine.

Finally, today’s doctors are often overqualified. At an eminent heart surgeons’ conference on Chinese medicine at which I spoke two years ago, there was considerable complaint that U.S. doctors were not interested in undertaking primary care, and admiration of the Chinese system, in which primary care was readily available. “But then you have to remember” one eminent practitioner said, “that many Chinese doctors have only a bachelor’s degree.”

Immediately the problem became clear. In the medical as in the legal profession (where Law school is a pre-requisite in most states, as well as a bachelor’s degree) restrictive practices have been allowed to limit access to primary care and drive up its costs.

With the burden of litigiousness lifted, insurance companies largely removed from at least primary care and restrictive practices in the medical profession itself removed, the cost of much medical treatment could be reduced, not simply by 10-20% but by more than half. Remove also the cross-subsidization to insurance companies and the indigent inherent in the payment scheme, and medical care would become truly affordable for most people.

We then come to the essential problem of healthcare, that some people are healthier than others. In the public mind currently, this is thought to demand universal health insurance. But of course it does no such thing. For the vast majority of people, the premiums they pay in insurance and the Medicare/Medicaid taxes they pay are greater than the cost of the medical services they receive – otherwise medical insurance companies would go bankrupt. Costs are further increased by nonsenses required by a nanny state, such as forcing insurance companies to cover contraception and sex change operations.

In reality, public health insurance is indeed desirable, but only for catastrophic illnesses, either chronic or critical. There is no point in involving insurance companies in this provision, which simply adds another layer of cost. Instead, catastrophic insurance could be universal and provided by the state (or, in reality, by taxpayers) – thus satisfying the dreams of the left. However, it would involve an annual deductible of say $25,000 in any calendar year. Medical costs below this level would be covered by the individual, with wages being garnisheed if necessary to reimburse medical costs below the $25,000 level.

This system would cause occasional moderate hardship, but no catastrophes (individual hardship cases could be handled by local charities.) Medical costs would mostly be paid for directly, and in any case would be sharply reduced by the reforms described above. Individuals wishing to remove even the $25,000 annual risk could still purchase insurance, which would smooth their incomes and allow them to plan properly.

And overall, medical costs would be reduced from their current 17% of GDP to around the 10% of GDP that prevents the sector from bankrupting the economy. As in most areas it’s possible to design a decent medical and insurance system for the United States; only vested interests and political axe-grinding prevent us from doing so.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


3 July, 2012

National Rottenness

No single area of public life threatens what previously was known as the American Dream more than the apathy of our public officials regarding their fiduciary responsibilities towards their citizens.

They are mismanaging our money and, worse yet, letting others mismanage it, with a wink and a nod that is, for all practical purposes, destroying the concept of personal property.

Recent scandals involving Congressional inside trading, federal investments in bankrupt green companies, inside banking deals that benefited millionaires and billionaires, along with the collapse of investment manager MF Global have contributed to public skepticism, amounting to cynicism, that those we have entrusted to leadership positions have done what British kings, Nazis and Communists have failed to do: namely, kill free and open markets in the US.

Free markets and free governments require public confidence in order to operate successfully. Confidence comes from the public’s perception that the markets and governments are fair- or at least neutral- arbiters for investment and public policy.

Over the last several years, however, there has been mounting evidence that the game of life has been rigged against the general public, not just a little bit, but a lot.

With that realization, our confidence, thus our freedom, has been eroded.

And if either political party is serious about gaining the trust of the electorate again, they had better address some of these scandals before the torches and pitchforks end up on their steps.

Gone are the days when a change of party in Congress or the White House was enough to placate an electorate spoon feed morsels from a media elite of a few dozen national editors. Free and open markets in news and media have replaced a half century old oligarchy. The result has been the slow realization that we have tolerated being wedded to the political equivalent of a bunch of spousal abusers.

For example, the Department of Energy has spent $36 billion on clean energy technology in the form of loan guarantees. And all you need to know about those gauarntees which were originally intended to create jobs, is that the Obama administration has stopped talking about how many jobs they have created, but instead, in a reprise of their bogus stimulus claims, now brag about the jobs they have saved through the program.

Count the Solyndra bankruptcy scandal as a one time charge and be thankful it wasn’t worse. Worse is coming. Instead, look at NRG Energy with a loan guarantee of $1.3 billion creating a whopping 15 permanent jobs. The explanation? According to an analysis of loans made through the D.O.E. program by Peter Schweizer, 80 percent of the loans went to political donors of Obama.

We’ve gotten so used to government graft that plain-old government incompetence would be a welcome relief. But no, we just have to accept the fact that all of our politicians are venial, making legal for themselves what they throw others in jail for.

“Not only can members of Congress legally trade [stocks] on confidential information; they do, despite the potential cost to their reputations,” writes CNN. “The U.S. television program 60 Minutes recently reported that several current members of Congress allegedly used confidential information that they acquired on the job for personal gain.”

At least now they have to report that they are trading strocks, like other insiders.

In fact, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid dumped his holdings in energy companies in 2008, right before the energy market crashed and bought healthcare stocks with the proceeds. Within 6 months Reid was heavily involved in re-writing healthcare laws.

The corruption goes way beyond Congress too.

Former US Senator, New Jersey Governor and Obama pal, Jon Corzine- according to Veep Joe Biden, Corzine was the first person Obama called for economic advice after the election and a key architect of the stimulus law passed by Obama- ran futures firm MF Global so solidly into the ground in a little over a year after being bounced from office that the firm dipped into customer accounts to pay their bills. Not only is that an ethical problem, it’s also illegal.

No arrests have yet been made, as of December 1st. Charlie Gasparino at Fox News says that as much as $1.2 billion dollars in customer money may be missing. Oops.

MF Global is one of the ten largest US bankruptcies of all time, according to the UK’s Independent.

Government insiders have also discovered ways of channeling profits toward their friends when government sponsored enterprises go belly-up for public investors.

In 2008, then-Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson dropped by the offices of Eton Park Capital Management LP in Manhattan. There he shared with a gathering of hedge fund managers how the government would seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, essentially wiping out private shareholders. But publicly, at the same time, he was telling the press that the government intended that Fannie and Freddie remain in the hands of investors.

The discrepancy could have allowed the hedge fund managers present at the meeting to benefit from non-public information. “There's no evidence that they did so after the meeting,” reports BusinessWeek, “[and] tracking firm-specific short stock sales isn't possible using public documents.”

But BusinessWeek says that at least one participant was so shaken by the disclosures that he immediately called his attorney to make sure that he wasn’t breaking any laws. The lawyer’s advice was to immediately stop trading in any securities of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because trading those securities while possessing inside information is against the law for mere mortals who don’t work for the federal government.

How did the hedge fund manager know he risked breaking the law, when Secretary Paulson had no clue? What was legal for Paulson as Secretary of the Treasury is illegal for the rest of us.

Living under different laws than the rest of us is so ingrained in our national leadership, that it seems they hardly give it a second thought. “The present era of incredible rottenness is not Democratic,” wrote Mark Twain, “it is not Republican, it is national.”

And that’s the paradox that all of us must grapple with seriously if we wish to preserve both our free markets and our free people.



The benefits of victimhood

(Don't forget that Hitler thought Germany was a victim of the Jews)

Imagine this: A future Republican president invites Tea Party leaders to the White House. Some of them have themselves photographed standing in front of a portrait of President Barack Obama with their middle fingers extended. They then posted these photos on Facebook with the caption "F--k Obama." (Needless to say, the F-word was spelled out.)

Some questions:

1. How much coverage do you think the national press would give to this?

2. How would Democratic -- and Republican -- leaders react?

3. How would Tea Party activists react?

The answers:

1. The mainstream media across America would widely report what had happened and repeatedly show these photos. "The New York Times" would editorialize about the racism of the Tea Party. Liberal columnists would be relentless in their condemnations of the Tea Party as a low life movement of yahoos.

2. Democrats and Republicans alike would condemn these leaders and demand their resignation.

3. Tea Party activists would feel embarrassed by these people who represented them, and they would be deeply concerned that their movement's good name had been permanently tarnished.

Now let's explore a real-life situation from this past week.

President Barack Obama invited activists to the White House's 2012 LGBT pride reception. Two of them, Matthew "Marty" Hart, a director of the leftist organization, Solutions for Progress, and an activist photographer, Zoe Strauss, posed for a photo in front of a portrait of President Ronald Reagan with both their middle fingers extended. They then posted the photo on Facebook with the caption "F--k Reagan" (the F-word is spelled out).

Now let's answer our questions:

First, the liberal, or "mainstream," media never mentioned the incident. Not a word about it appeared in "The New York Times," "The Washington Post," the "Los Angeles Times" or on NPR (which had given Zoe Strauss extensive and laudatory attention just a few weeks earlier). There was no coverage on ABC News, NBC News, or CBS News. "The Huffington Post" reported the incident in this way: "If several raised fingers are any indication, some LGBT activists who visited the White House last week are fully evolved on what they think of President Ronald Reagan."

It was reported by Fox News, on conservative talk radio shows, by the "The Weekly Standard," "National Review" and other conservative journals and websites.

Second, aside from one tepid rebuke from a man named Shin Inouye, the "Director of Specialty Media in the White House Office of Communications," the Democratic Party and other left-wing organizations said nothing.

And, of course, not a word of condemnation from the world of gay activism, other than the conservative gay organization, Log Cabin Republicans.

What are the lessons?

One is that without Fox News, talk radio and conservative journals and websites, one gets an utterly skewed view of the world. If you want to know how the left wins so many elections despite the fact that many more Americans consider themselves conservative rather than liberal, the filtered news they receive is a major reason -- in America and even more so around the world. (I cover this is in detail in my just-published book " Still the Best Hope.")

The other lesson may be even more important: Contempt for norms of decency -- a form of nihilism -- permeates the left generally and leftist activism (among gays and straights) on behalf of gays specifically. Compare, for example, the behavior of the Occupy movement with that of the Tea Party. Both are equally angry at what they deem injurious to society -- economic inequality for the Occupy movement, ever-expanding government and debt for the Tea Party -- but the latter acts so much more civilly and maturely than the former.

Whether it is the notorious art work "Piss Christ" (a crucifix submerged in "artist" Andres Serrano's urine), the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art's recent "graffiti art" exhibition, the ubiquitous public use of expletives, the defense of public nudity (the highest court in New York State ruled that there is no difference between women's and men's breasts, therefore women, like men, can go topless in public), the abolition of dress codes in schools, the left revels in giving the finger to religious and civil norms.

Why did these activists for gay causes feel they could act this way in the White House, the most prestigious and revered building in America? Aside from contempt for social norms, the reason is that those who see themselves as victims have impaired consciences. Nothing dulls the conscience quite like regarding oneself and/or one's group as victims. The vast majority of violent criminals believe they are victims of society, poverty, racism, etc.; Islamic terrorists see themselves as victims of the West's alleged "war on Islam;" Germans in the 1930s saw themselves as victims of the Versailles Treaty; and in America today, no one sees themselves as victims as much as gay rights activists do.

What are they victims of? Society's desire to maintain the man-woman definition of marriage, and in Ronald Reagan's case, his alleged ignoring of the AIDS crisis. That explains why gay groups label everyone who supports retaining the man-woman definition of marriage as people filled with hate, and why these activist groups try to destroy the reputations and, where applicable, the businesses of such people. Along with the nihilism -- and immaturity -- that characterizes the activist left, a sense of victimization also explains this defamation of the White House. And it doesn't hurt to know that America's news media will not call you on it.



Trickle Up Economics

The political left wing has long tried to cast doubt on the fairness, and even the efficacy, of free market capitalism by branding it as a "trickle down" system. This epithet is meant to show how the middle and lower classes are dependent on scraps of wealth that happen to fall from the buffet table of the rich. This characterization of an unfair and inefficient system has helped them demonize policies that lower taxes (if they also extend to the wealthy) and reduce regulation on business.

To correct these supposed problems, they have long called for policies to redistribute wealth or for government to inject funds directly into the economy. Either mechanism puts money into the hands of everyday consumers who they claim to be the true engines of economic growth. They believe that consumer spending lies at the root of the economic pyramid. When people spend, business owners are able to sell more products, hire more workers, and reap more profits. In essence, they believe in a system of "trickle up" economics, whereby prosperity flows upward from government into the lower and middle classes and ultimately to the upper class.

But as usual, they have it exactly backwards. The savings that they find so unproductive is actually the foundation upon which the economy rests. Nothing can be consumed until it is produced. The act of spending is meaningless without something to buy. The savings of the rich forms the capital that funds business investment which increases productivity. The more that society produces, the more that can be consumed. The key here is the supply, not the demand. The grass that feeds the zebras comes from seeds, not rain. Capitalists provide the surplus seeds that are planted.

Demand always exists and does not need to be stimulated by cash redistribution. 21st century Americans are no more desirous of cell phones than their parents were. But in 1980 cell phones were in very limited supply and were therefore very expensive. They were the trophy possessions of the super-rich. The reason why they are now as ubiquitous as key chains is not that government stimulated demand, but that industry figured out how to supply them far more efficiently. The supply satisfied the demand. Investment in the telecom sector, which came from real savings of Americans, allowed for that increased productivity.

In this example, the savings of the wealthy and the innovation of entrepreneurs combined to create a huge benefit for society. Call it trickle down if you want, but it would be more honest to simply call it effective. This is the system that built this country. Relying on trickle up will surely destroy it.


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


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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


2 July, 2012

Why Don't People Get It?

Even now, people think nothing of professing their attachment to socialist ideology at cocktail parties, at restaurants serving abundant foods, and lounging in the fanciest apartments and homes that mankind has ever enjoyed. Yes, it is still fashionable to be a socialist, and — in some circles within the arts and academia — socially required. No one will recoil. Someone will openly congratulate you for your idealism. In the same way, you can always count on eliciting agreement by decrying the evils of Walmart and Microsoft.

Isn't it remarkable? Socialism (the real-life version) collapsed nearly 20 years ago — vicious regimes founded on the principles of Marxism, overthrown by the will of the people. Following that event we've seen these once-decrepit societies come back to life and become a major source for the world's prosperity. Trade has expanded. The technological revolution is achieving miracles by the day right under our noses. Millions have been made far better off, in ever-widening circles. The credit is wholly due to the free market, which possesses a creative power that has been underestimated by even its most passionate proponents.

What's more, it should not have required the collapse of socialism to demonstrate this. Socialism has been failing since the ancient world. And since Mises's book Socialism (1922) we have understood that the precise reason is due to the economic impossibility of the emergence of social order in the absence of private property in the means of production. No one has ever refuted him.

And yet, even now, after all this, professors stand in front of their students and decry the evil of capitalism. Bestselling books make anticapitalism the theme. Politicians parade around telling us about the glorious things that the government will accomplish when they are in charge. And every evil of the day, even those directly caused by the government (airline delays, the housing crisis, the never-ending crisis in public schooling, the lack of healthcare for everyone) are blamed on the market economy.

As an example, the Bush administration nationalized airline security after 9/11, and hardly anyone even questioned that this was necessary. The result was an amazing mess that is visible to every traveler, as delays pile on delays and humiliation became part of the rubric of travel by flight. And yet who gets the blame? Read the letters to the editor. Read the mountains of copy written by journalists covering this issue. The blame is heaped on the private airlines. The solution follows: more regulation, more nationalization.

How can we account for this appalling display? There are two primary factors. The first is the failure of people to understand economics and its elucidation of cause and effect in society. The second is the absence of imagination that such ignorance reinforces. If you don't know what causes what in society, it is impossible to intellectually grasp the proper solutions or imagine how the world would work in the absence of the state.

The educational gap can be overcome. To think in economic terms is to realize that wealth is not a given or an accident of history. It is not bestowed on us like rain from above. It is the product of human creativity in an environment of freedom. The freedom to own, to make contracts, to save, to invest, to associate, and to trade: these are the key to prosperity.

Without them, where would we be? In a state of nature, which means a dramatically shrunken population hiding in caves and living off what we can hunt and gather. This is the world in which human beings found themselves until we made something of it, and it is the world we can slip back into should any government ever manage to take away freedom and private property rights completely.

This seems like a simple point but it is one that evades vast swaths of even the educated public. The problem comes down to a failure to understand that scarcity is a pervasive feature of the world and the need for a system that rationally allocates scarce resources to socially optimal ends. There is only one system for doing so, and it is not central planning but the free-market price system.

Government distorts the price system in myriad ways. Subsidies short-circuit market judgments. Product bans cause the ascendance of less desirable goods and services over more desirable ones. Other regulations slow down the wheels of commerce, thwart the dreams of entrepreneurs, and foil the plans of consumers and investors. Then there is the most deceptive form of price manipulation: monetary management from the Federal Reserve.

The larger the government, the more our living standards are reduced. We are fortunate as a civilization that the progress of free enterprise generally outpaces the regress of government growth, for if that were not the case, we would be poorer each year — not just in relative terms, but absolutely poorer too. The market is smart and the government is dumb, and to these attributes do we owe the whole of our economic well-being.

The second part of our educational task — imaging how a market-run world would function — is much more difficult. Murray Rothbard once remarked that if the government were the only producer of shoes, most people would be unable to imagine how the market could possibly produce them. How could the market accommodate all sizes? Wouldn't it be wasteful to produce styles for every taste? What about fraudulent shoes and poor quality producers? And shoes are arguably too important a good to turn over to the vicissitudes of market anarchy.

Well, so it is with many issues today, such as welfare. Among the first objections to the idea of a market society is that the poor will suffer and have no one to care for them. One response is that private charity can handle it, and yet we look around and see private charities handling only comparatively small tasks. The sector just isn't big enough to pick up where government leaves off.

This is where imagination is required. The problem is that government services have crowded out private ones and reduced private-sector services beyond what they would be in a free market. Before the age of the welfare state, charities in the 19th century were a vast operation comparable in size to the largest industries. They expanded according to need. They were mostly provided by the churches through donations, and the ethic was there: everyone gave a portion of the family budget to the charitable sector. A nun like Mother Cabrini ran a charitable empire.

But then in the progressive era, ideology changed. Charity came to be considered a public good, something to be professionalized. The state began to encroach on territory once reserved to the private sector. And as the welfare state grew throughout the 20th century, the comparative size of the private sector shrank. As bad off as we are in the United States, it is nothing compared with Europe, the continent that gave birth to charitable services. Today, few Europeans donate a dime to charity, because everyone is of the belief that this is a government service. Moreover, after high taxes and high prices, there isn't much left over to donate.

It is the same in every area the government has monopolized. Until FedEx and UPS came along to exploit a loophole in the letter of the law, people couldn't imagine how the private sector could deliver mail. There are many similar blind spots today in the area of justice provision, security, schooling, medical care, monetary policy, and coinage services. People are aghast at the suggestion that the market should provide all these, but only because it requires mental experiments and a bit of imagination to see how it is possible.

Once you understand economics, the reality that everyone sees takes on a new significance. Walmart is not a pariah but a glorious achievement of civilization, an institution that has finally put to rest that great fear that has pervaded all of human history: the fear that the food will run out. In fact, even the smallest products dazzle the mind once you understand the incredible complexity of the production process and how the market manages to coordinate it all toward the end of human betterment. The achievements of the market suddenly appear in sharp relief all around you.

And then you begin to see the unseen: how much more secure we would be with private security, how much more just society would be if justice were privatized, how much more compassionate we would be if the human heart were trained by private experience rather than government bureaucracies.

And what makes the difference? The socialist and the advocate of free markets observe the same facts. But the person with economic knowledge understands their significance and implications. It is that bit of education that makes the difference. This is why we must never underestimate the central role of teaching about economics. Facts will always be with us. Wisdom, however, must be taught. Achieving a culture-wide understanding of liberty and its implications has never been more important.



Another Great Society Joins the Trash Heap of History

While the exact date of the fall of the Roman Empire is disputed — there are even some of us, myself included, who say Rome never fell — many, if not most, historians accept English historian Edward Gibbons’ date of Sept. 4, A.D. 476.

He chose that date in his seminal work, “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,” which, ironically, was published in six volumes, the first at the beginning of the American Revolutionary War and the last just before ratification of the current U.S. Constitution. The date was the day when Emperor Romulus Augustus was deposed by the German Odoacer, leader of the Foederati, or foreign mercenaries.

Odoacer, for his part, refused to take the title “emperor” though he essentially ruled as one. A few years later, the Roman Senate officially dissolved the Western Empire, though the Eastern Empire would exist for another millennium.

Choosing the date of the fall of the Roman Empire is really an academic exercise. If you were to borrow my time machine and go back to that fateful Sept. 4 day and talk to average Romans in the streets, they would tell you the empire had not fallen. Indeed, Odoacer and his successors maintained most of the Roman administrative state and all its trappings.

Sometimes it seems as though people believe that one day the Roman Empire was there and the next day, everything was gone.

In reality, what had fallen on that date was the “essence” of what made the Roman Empire the Roman Empire.

If you once again borrow my time machine and travel two millennia into the future and ask historians when the American empire fell, most will probably say it occurred on June 28, A.D. 2012, or the equivalent in whatever dating system is in place in 2,000 years.

That is the date that U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts and four of his colleagues declared the federal government no longer has any limitations to its power over our daily lives. That is not hyperbole. NFIB v. Sebelius will go down in legal history as the worst Supreme Court decision since 1857’s Dred Scott v. Sandford.

However, and for this you need no time machine, very few Americans today will agree that the American empire has fallen. Similar to their Roman counterpart of the fifth century, the average American will fail to recognize the significant change that occurred.

That is the typical way empires fall. There is no huge crash. They just gradually die from within until historians begin debating when the collapse took place. Just as in the Sept. 4, 476, date for the fall of Rome, June 28, 2012, is when the essence of America ended.

The American experiment was one that entailed limited and specifically enumerated powers for its central government. Now, with Roberts’ linguistic gymnastics and sophomoric logic turning a penalty into a tax, there are no limits to what the federal government can do.

If, for example, the U.S. Congress wished to mandate that everyone buy anything from electric cars to broccoli, or zoot suits to jelly beans, it can now do so. The only limitation, really, is that Congress can’t use the Commerce Clause to do so but, instead, will have to rely on its taxing authority. That, of course, has no significance to anyone outside the legal profession. The result is the same: A federal government with unlimited power to control our daily lives.

That, my friends, is, for all intents and purposes, the end of the American experiment. The Constitution is now meaningless because the idea of the Enumerated Powers Doctrine, already weakened by 80 years of Commerce Clause abuse, is now dead. Congress can do what it wants, when it wants. Only politics stands in the way. And politics is no protector of liberty.

To be sure, the decision, in the end, will be a victory for Republicans. I have no doubt that it will result in a huge GOP win in November. And the GOP might even actually repeal Obamacare because, despite its unconstitutionality, it is simply bad law. It is unaffordable, irresponsible and unaccountable. It is overly expensive at $1.76 trillion and will increase taxes by $500 billion in the next 10 years. It puts bureaucrats between doctors and patients and ultimately will decrease the quality of care in the United States, just as similar measures in other countries have done.

It is also simply wrong in a free country.

The idea that the central government (I doubt we can even call it a “federal government” anymore) can force Americans to purchase a product is repugnant to those who value living in a free country, or at least what used to be a free country.

Even so, the long-term damage is done. Recall, Dred Scott led to a war and took a constitutional amendment to cleanse. I doubt even that can salvage the former American empire.



The Obamacare decision also imposed some limits on the Feds

Some concerns from the Left below

The Supreme Court’s decision in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius—the healthcare cases—was a tremendous political victory for the Obama administration and, more importantly, the tens of thousands of Americans who will be saved from illness and death by the law. But make no mistake: the decision could also be a significant legal victory for the political forces committed to limiting the state’s ability to care for the weak and fragile among us.

In the hours after the health care decision was handed down, many commentators crowed over Chief Justice John Roberts’s statesman-like craft in putting together a moderate opinion that, in different parts, managed to unite the left and the right of the Court. They are half right. The opinion may be statesman-like, but it’s ultimately radical, endorsing a view of Congress’s power that had few, if any, takers until it was embraced by the Republican Party and its Tea Party flag-bearers. Indeed, it may even contain a seed that could unravel important benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

The immediate effect of the decision, of course, is that the law’s implementation can proceed. But on the one hand, Roberts, with four liberal justices, held that the individual mandate was constitutional as an exercise of Congress’s taxing power. On the other hand, Roberts joined the four conservative justices in stating that he believed that the same mandate could not be upheld under Congress’s Commerce Clause power. This should not to be overlooked. The Commerce Clause is the central plank of Congressional authority, employed to support everything from the Environmental Protection Agency to the civil rights laws. Flouting the usual rule that judges must avoid addressing unnecessary constitutional questions, Roberts made it clear that his new limitation on the Commerce Clause power was necessary to his opinion, and hence arguably binding on future courts.

In the second part of his opinion, Roberts and a coalition of six justices invalidated one aspect of the Medicaid expansion. Medicaid is one of many important “conditional spending” programs, in which Congress uses its spending power to give money to the states, but attaches conditions to the grant. The Court had never invalidated such a program on constitutional grounds. Yesterday, though, the Court held that although the federal government could condition the Medicaid expansion on the specific funding assigned to that expansion, it could not defund a state’s Medicaid program entirely if the state refused to expand the program. In effect, the Court viewed the states as akin to Methadone addicts, so dependent on their ongoing fiscal fix that the federal government had a constitutional obligation to hook them up.

Remember, there were two key points of constitutional controversy before the Court in the health care cases: first, whether the mandate is valid under the Commerce Clause, and second, whether the Medicaid expansion is a use of federal spending that improperly coerces the states.

But it is the spending clause part of the opinion that may have the more significant ramifications. While the Court has previously invalidated rules related to federal grants to states with strings attached on the ground that those strings were not articulated clearly enough, it has never before struck down a conditional spending effort as coercive—until yesterday. Apart from the puzzling question of how a non-natural entity such as a state can be “coerced,” Roberts’s explanation of this holding is unclear. Provided a federal grant is large enough and has continued for long enough, he might be read to say, the states acquire a right to it in perpetuity.

The reason this portion of the opinion is ground for concern is that it opens the door to extensive new litigation by the states to fight off regulatory mandates in other policy areas, from education to highway maintenance. The federal government often uses conditions on federal grants to pressure states into complying with important legal and policy mandates. Now it’s unclear how many of those conditions are good law. Precisely because it cannot be clearly understood, Roberts’s opinion invited new challenges by the states and new judicial decisions unraveling the regulatory net that keeps states in compliance with many important mandates on everything from civil rights to the environment.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


1 July, 2012

Did CJ Roberts exercise the Judicial Restraint conservatives have been asking for?

Judicial restraint is the idea that judges should defer to the will of lawmakers whenever possible, turning to the U.S. Constitution on only the rarest of occasions in order to nullify a duly-enacted law. One of the earliest and most influential proponents of this idea was Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes (1841-1935), who routinely criticized his fellow justices for striking down legislation and preventing “the right of the majority to embody their opinions in law.” As Holmes once put it, “If my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. It’s my job.”

Holmes was a great hero to the left-leaning activists of the Progressive era, who enjoyed reading his sharply-worded dissents attacking the Court’s majority for striking down various economic regulations. But judicial restraint has also had its champions on the American right. Conservative legal icon Robert Bork, for example, famously argued that “in wide areas of life majorities are entitled to rule, if they wish, simply because they are majorities,” and that judges should therefore act accordingly by deferring to lawmakers on most matters.

Chief Justice John Roberts also believes in judicial restraint, or judicial modesty, as he described it during his 2005 Senate confirmation hearings, and that belief came shining through yesterday in his majority opinion in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius. Although Roberts rejected the Obama administration’s novel claim that Congress may force Americans to buy health insurance as part of its power to regulate interstate commerce, he nonetheless found the health insurance mandate to be lawful under a different constitutional provision, Congress’ power to “lay and collect taxes.”

“The text of a statute can sometimes have more than one possible meaning,” Roberts wrote, before proceeding to embrace the only possible meaning that would allow the statute to survive. “The Government asks us to interpret the mandate as imposing a tax, if it would otherwise violate the Constitution,” he continued. “Granting the Act the full measure of deference owed to federal statutes, it can be so read.”

And so judicial restraint reared its head. In fact, as an authority for his deferential maneuvering, Roberts turned to none other than Justice Holmes, citing the famous jurist’s concurring opinion in the 1928 case of Blodgett v. Holden, which declared, “between two possible interpretations of a statute, by one of which it would be unconstitutional and by the other valid, our plain duty is to adopt that which will save the Act.”

In other words, the tie goes to the government.

Many of Roberts’ critics will no doubt be tempted to denounce this ruling as an example of judicial activism. But in fact the opposite is true. By employing a method of statutory interpretation designed to give Congress and the White House the benefit of the doubt, Roberts exhibited the hallmarks of judicial restraint. “It is not our job,” he declared, taking yet another page from Holmes’ playbook, “to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices.”

Today’s conservatives frequently complain about the dangers of judicial activism. Perhaps now they’ll be more alert to the dangers of judicial restraint.



Legislative Dishonesty: The Indian Child Welfare Act doesn’t promote child welfare

By Thomas Sowell

Nowhere is political rhetoric more shameless — or more dangerous — than in the pious names that politicians give to the legislation they pass. Perhaps the most egregious example is the so-called Indian Child Welfare Act, which callously sacrifices the welfare of Indian children.

Time and again, children with some American Indian ancestry, who have been adopted by families that are not of that ancestry, have been suddenly taken by law from the only parents they have ever known and transferred to some distant Indian reservation, to live among strangers in a world they know nothing about.

You might think that the sight of bewildered, desperate, and weeping children in court, crying out for Mommy and Daddy as they are forcibly removed from people who have cared for them for years, might cause those who are seizing them to relent. But no! Such children are routinely sacrificed on the altar of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

The child might be two years old or twelve. But the legal rights of a biological relative and tribal authorities trump the well-being of the child, even if that biological relative has been a complete stranger to the child.

Some years ago, the chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission visited a 14-year-old girl who had been removed from her adoptive parents and was living on an Indian reservation, where she was miserable. But when the story came out, outrage was directed not at those who had ruined this girl’s life, but at the member of the Civil Rights Commission who had dared to intrude on the sacred soil of the Indian reservation.

Similar things have happened to black children raised by white foster parents. There is no congressional legislation in these cases, but the dogmatism of social workers and so-called social-welfare departments can lead to the same results. However, the absence of federal legislation enables those judges who have common sense, and common decency, to prevent similar tragedies.
What is behind such perverse racial policies? Theories, ideologies, and presumptions of superior wisdom and virtue. It has been known for centuries that there are people, especially among the intelligentsia, who love humanity in the abstract but are not all that concerned about what happens to the actual flesh-and-blood human beings who are subjected to their grand visions and policies.

If the vogue is that children should be raised in their own racial culture, that overrules other considerations. As T. S. Eliot said, long ago: “Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”

But the rest of us need to be on guard against their rhetoric. Nor is the Indian Child Welfare Act the only piece of legislation whose effects are the direct opposite of its title.

The Obama administration introduced legislation called the “Employee Free Choice Act.” What would it do? Destroy the free choice of workers as to whether or not they want to be represented by a labor union.

The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 gave workers the right to a federally conducted secret-ballot election, in which they could vote to have a union or not have a union. But, as more and more workers in recent years have voted not to have a union, union bosses have pushed for a law to allow this decision to be made without a secret ballot. This would allow union organizers to use pressure and coercion on those who don’t want to have a union.

Since union bosses contributed both money and manpower to the election of Barack Obama, it is hardly surprising that he was willing to reciprocate with the Employee Free Choice Act.

In this case, the act failed to pass in Congress. But President Obama accomplished some of its goals by appointing pro-union members to the National Labor Relations Board, whose regulations tilted elections in the unions’ favor.

If you can’t be bothered to look beyond rhetoric to realities, don’t complain about bad laws, or even about the degeneration of law itself into arbitrary rule over what was once a free people.



The worldwide Leftist program: Creating dependency

It's already well underway in Britain, where ever larger numbers of young people choose a life on welfare rather than work


In an age of the globalization of everything from bird flu to bad debts, we still try to compartmentalize, pretending that what happens in Athens, stays in Athens. Thus, too many Americans fail to connect the massive attempt at wealth transfer (and wealth destruction) behind Obamacare to the wild irresponsibility of southern Europe's socialist government models that have led multiple states to practical, if not yet formal, bankruptcy.

But problems ranging from the Democratic Party's efforts to turn illegal immigrants into still more electoral slaves, to Greek or Spanish demands that hardworking Germans pick up their lifestyle tabs, all have the same roots: The Left's lust for power and its preferred means of seizing power today: Addicting the least-productive and utterly unproductive members of society to giveaway programs funded by the diminishing number of citizens willing to study, work and pay taxes.

Obamacare isn't about alleviating suffering. It's about keeping poor people poor by enmeshing them in a web of addictive hand-outs that keep them dependent on government. Every leftwing "social" program has the ultimate goal of destroying incentives for self-improvement, while piling on the incentives for parasitical behavior.

Whenever a leftist politician speaks of "social justice" or "justice" of any kind, get ready to write a check to the government, if you earn an honest living. To Leftists, social justice means only two things: First, empowering the Lumpenproletariat (society's bottom-feeders, against whom Karl Marx warned us, by the way) to create an electoral mob that will always vote to preserve and increase hand-outs; and, second, punishing responsible citizens who have done something constructive with their lives.

In Europe itself, we see a sharp north-south divide (with France, under its new idiot-left president, opting to align itself with the bankrupt south, the financial equivalent of Napoleon's invasion of Russia). In the north, most governments pursue sound fiscal policies and restrain their socialist impulses within the limits of affordability. In the German case, two traditions have resulted in one of the world's soundest economies, despite soft-core socialism: The old, unfashionable, academically derided "Protestant Work Ethic," and the worthy old Prussian admonition to live a life of Mehr sein als schein ("Live within your budget and don't flash bling"). [Literally: More being than appearing -- JR]

In Europe and here, the Left has proven that the old saying "There's no free lunch!" is a lie, at least for a while. There's a free lunch every day, as long as someone else can be conned or forced into picking up the tab. Eventually, though, the famine years arrive.

Here at home, it's often been observed that a fundamental problem is that "we've made poverty too comfortable," thus removing incentives for people to study, work and better their lives. That's absolutely true: When you willfully contribute nothing to society throughout your lifetime, while using food stamps to buy chips, candy, soda and frozen dinners, and then bill the government for your self-inflicted health problems while couch-surfing through a "life of poverty" that includes a cell phone and a flat-screen television, well, there are, unfortunately, plenty of human beings content to be narcotized into slavery on the left's vast, soul-destroying electoral plantations. The left uses government giveaways to bribe the poor to stay poor.

Why? The left craves power. Once upon a time, it craved power for imagined noble ends. Now it's just about the power itself. Leftists know full well how soul-crushing conditions are in the ghettos, barrios and poor-white communities in which they confine their supporters, keeping them on a life-support drip-feed of benefits (brilliantly constructed so that anyone who tries to fight their way out of the poverty trap immediately loses multiple advantages reserved for those content to remain willing slaves).

What has our Left done for the poor except to addict them to poverty? What has the European left done for the poor except to promise a fairy-tale ending, only to leave the "workers and peasants" to face the Big Bad Wolves of mass unemployment, endless debt and lifelong disappointment?

There is no dignity in living on hand-outs. But that's just fine with the Left: The destruction of individual dignity, the reduction of pride from a matter of real achievement to status based on running shoes, is one of the left's most vital tools in subverting our republic ("How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the block, once that they've read Ayn Rand?" The ultimate nightmare of the American left is a literate minority population). Note that, on the rare occasion when a minority celebrity calls for personal responsibility and educational reform, the left attacks him or her immediately, savagely and enduringly.

For that matter, what has our self-declared-as-black president done to improve education for minorities and reduce minority unemployment? How many black or Latino executives, exactly, worked at Solyndra?

For me, the Obamacare agenda was never really about the health of the American people. Instead, it's another wealth-transfer (and wealth-destruction) tool that removes yet another incentive for individual citizens to better their lives. It's also about further dismantling our sense of personal responsibility, broadening the sense of victimhood yet again. The "free lunch" of universal health care would be paid for by those who work in order to provide endless care, premium for those who refuse to work or to take any responsibility for their own physical condition.

The message of the Left long has been: Nothing is your fault, you're all victims of the dark forces of free enterprise ("Freedom is slavery," as Big Brother put it). Obamacare was designed to extend that message to: "Eat like a pig, smoke like a chimney, drink life a fish and stay put on your sofa-and, as long as you vote the Left's party line, you'll get the same benefits as someone who has worked steadily for fifty years to support a family.

The worst addiction crisis in our country isn't to illegal drugs, but to life-numbing government giveaway programs that purposely kill ambition among the poor.

Oh, and the Left's recent discovery of the suffering middle class (suffering because of the Left's bankrupting programs)? Don't believe it. The academic left has always despised the petty bourgeois, while merely envying the wealthy. The middle-class shopkeeper or small-town entrepreneur was always immune to the Left's inanity, while at least some of the rich could be conned into a guilt-trip and big donations.

As for those of us with jobs, the Left wants us to be in debt, in doubt, and hurting. The new dream of the American Left is to turn productive citizens into a new class of victims. And, true to the European model the American left emulates, our leftists close their eyes to the fact that somebody has to make money to pay taxes, or, eventually, there's no funding for anything. When it comes to balancing the books, the Left has always taken the Mr. Micawber view that "Something will turn up."

Welcome to Greece: It's always about wealth transfers, even as the last wealth disappears.

At a time when the American Left dreams of turning ten million illegal immigrants into ten million permanently impoverished voters, it's time to relook the entire leftist experiment we've endured for the last half-century. Food stamps? Sure, for the deserving or disabled. But no junk food or desserts of any kind. Computerized supermarket inventory and check-out programs could easily manage this-but it won't happen, because politicians from both parties would rather foster obesity than take on potato-chip manufacturers. And let's routinely recheck eligibility and make it a felony to sell food stamps to a third party. Benefits fraud? Lose all government benefits for the rest of your life. Voting rights? Time for a step backward (the Left's outrageous objections to voter ID laws show just how corrupt the Democrats have become). No individual or family tax return? No right to vote. No high-school diploma? No right to vote. Citizens don't just have rights. Responsibilities come first.

As for health care, I support enlightened rationing that, while allowing for "no-fault" serious diseases or accidents caused by others, incentivizes citizens to take at least some responsibility for their own health. If I bust my ass to stay in shape, I shouldn't have to pay for extravagant care for the shamelessly self-indulgent. Past a reasonable point, you should have to pay your own way if you've abused your body for decades. If you want endless platinum care for ailments you've inflicted on yourself, take out your checkbook.

Not a single cowardly politicians in either party will admit it, but without laws that foster personal responsibility for our health, our health-care system will bankrupt us, whether Obamacare can be repealed or not.

Frau Bundeskanzlerin Merkel, stick to your refusal to pay off the credit cards of spendthrift Greeks. My fellow Amerians, stand up for the fundamental value that, above all, made this country great, the belief that personal responsibility is the building block of freedom.

I would not undo "social" programs that help the genuinely needy, but I'd damned well make sure that "needy" meant physically or mentally helpless to help themselves, not lazy, cynical and content to remain illiterate.

There's a line from the 1960s that I used to trot out for a laugh. Faced with today's degenerate entitlement culture, I've come to see authentic wisdom in the saying. It's from the Reverend Ike, the Little Richard of evangelists, who, when asked about his Cadillacs and jewelry, said, "The best thing you can do for the poor is not to be one of them."

Work hard, pay your bills, and take responsibility for your own life. That, my friends, is true American patriotism.



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


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


Postings from Brisbane, Australia by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.) -- former member of the Australia-Soviet Friendship Society, former anarcho-capitalist and former member of the British Conservative party.


It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" -- Genesis 12:3

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

I have always liked the story of Gideon (See Judges chapters 6 to 8) and it is surely no surprise that in the present age Israel is the Gideon of nations: Few in numbers but big in power and impact.

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

“My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” -- Thomas Jefferson

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

Some useful definitions:

If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.
If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.
If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.
If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down.
If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced. (Unless it's a foreign religion, of course!)
If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

Leftists are classic weak characters. They dish out abuse by the bucketload but cannot take it when they get it back. Witness the Loughner hysteria.

Death taxes: You would expect a conscientious person, of whatever degree of intelligence, to reflect on the strange contradiction involved in denying people the right to unearned wealth, while supporting programs that give people unearned wealth.

America is no longer the land of the free. It is now the land of the regulated -- though it is not alone in that, of course

The Leftist motto: "I love humanity. It's just people I can't stand"

Why are Leftists always talking about hate? Because it fills their own hearts

Envy is a strong and widespread human emotion so there has alway been widespread support for policies of economic "levelling". Both the USA and the modern-day State of Israel were founded by communists but reality taught both societies that respect for the individual gave much better outcomes than levelling ideas. Sadly, there are many people in both societies in whom hatred for others is so strong that they are incapable of respect for the individual. The destructiveness of what they support causes them to call themselves many names in different times and places but they are the backbone of the political Left

The large number of rich Leftists suggests that, for them, envy is secondary. They are directly driven by hatred and scorn for many of the other people that they see about them. Hatred of others can be rooted in many things, not only in envy. But the haters come together as the Left.

Leftists hate the world around them and want to change it: the people in it most particularly. Conservatives just want to be left alone to make their own decisions and follow their own values.

The failure of the Soviet experiment has definitely made the American Left more vicious and hate-filled than they were. The plain failure of what passed for ideas among them has enraged rather than humbled them.

Ronald Reagan famously observed that the status quo is Latin for “the mess we’re in.” So much for the vacant Leftist claim that conservatives are simply defenders of the status quo. They think that conservatives are as lacking in principles as they are.

The shallow thinkers of the Left sometimes claim that conservatives want to impose their own will on others in the matter of abortion. To make that claim is however to confuse religion with politics. Conservatives are in fact divided about their response to abortion. The REAL opposition to abortion is religious rather than political. And the church which has historically tended to support the LEFT -- the Roman Catholic church -- is the most fervent in the anti-abortion cause. Conservatives are indeed the one side of politics to have moral qualms on the issue but they tend to seek a middle road in dealing with it. Taking the issue to the point of legal prohibitions is a religious doctrine rather than a conservative one -- and the religion concerned may or may not be characteristically conservative. More on that here

Some Leftist hatred arises from the fact that they blame "society" for their own personal problems and inadequacies

The Leftist hunger for change to the society that they hate leads to a hunger for control over other people. And they will do and say anything to get that control: "Power at any price". Leftist politicians are mostly self-aggrandizing crooks who gain power by deceiving the uninformed with snake-oil promises -- power which they invariably use to destroy. Destruction is all that they are good at. Destruction is what haters do.

Leftists are consistent only in their hate. They don't have principles. How can they when "there is no such thing as right and wrong"? All they have is postures, pretend-principles that can be changed as easily as one changes one's shirt

A Leftist assumption: Making money doesn't entitle you to it, but wanting money does.

"Politicians never accuse you of 'greed' for wanting other people's money -- only for wanting to keep your own money." --columnist Joe Sobran (1946-2010)

Leftist policies are candy-coated rat poison that may appear appealing at first, but inevitably do a lot of damage to everyone impacted by them.

I often wonder why Leftists refer to conservatives as "wingnuts". A wingnut is a very useful device that adds versatility wherever it is used. Clearly, Leftists are not even good at abuse. Once they have accused their opponents of racism and Nazism, their cupboard is bare. Similarly, Leftists seem to think it is a devastating critique to refer to "Worldnet Daily" as "Worldnut Daily". The poverty of their argumentation is truly pitiful

The Leftist assertion that there is no such thing as right and wrong has a distinguished history. It was Pontius Pilate who said "What is truth?" (John 18:38). From a Christian viewpoint, the assertion is undoubtedly the Devil's gospel

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent and well-informed people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

“Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

“Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell’s Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus


"Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him" (Proverbs 26: 12). I think that sums up Leftists pretty well.

Eminent British astrophysicist Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington is often quoted as saying: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." It was probably in fact said by his contemporary, J.B.S. Haldane. But regardless of authorship, it could well be a conservative credo not only about the cosmos but also about human beings and human society. Mankind is too complex to be summed up by simple rules and even complex rules are only approximations with many exceptions.

Politics is the only thing Leftists know about. They know nothing of economics, history or business. Their only expertise is in promoting feelings of grievance

Socialism makes the individual the slave of the state – capitalism frees them.

MESSAGE to Leftists: Even if you killed all conservatives tomorrow, you would just end up in another Soviet Union. Conservatives are all that stand between you and that dismal fate.

Many readers here will have noticed that what I say about Leftists sometimes sounds reminiscent of what Leftists say about conservatives. There is an excellent reason for that. Leftists are great "projectors" (people who see their own faults in others). So a good first step in finding out what is true of Leftists is to look at what they say about conservatives! They even accuse conservatives of projection (of course).

The research shows clearly that one's Left/Right stance is strongly genetically inherited but nobody knows just what specifically is inherited. What is inherited that makes people Leftist or Rightist? There is any amount of evidence that personality traits are strongly genetically inherited so my proposal is that hard-core Leftists are people who tend to let their emotions (including hatred and envy) run away with them and who are much more in need of seeing themselves as better than others -- two attributes that are probably related to one another. Such Leftists may be an evolutionary leftover from a more primitive past.

Leftists seem to believe that if someone like Al Gore says it, it must be right. They obviously have a strong need for an authority figure. The fact that the two most authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia) were socialist is thus no surprise. Leftists often accuse conservatives of being "authoritarian" but that is just part of their usual "projective" strategy -- seeing in others what is really true of themselves.

Following the Sotomayor precedent, I would hope that a wise older white man such as myself with the richness of that experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than someone who hasn’t lived that life.

IQ and ideology: Most academics are Left-leaning. Why? Because very bright people who have balls go into business, while very bright people with no balls go into academe. I did both with considerable success, which makes me a considerable rarity. Although I am a born academic, I have always been good with money too. My share portfolio even survived the GFC in good shape. The academics hate it that bright people with balls make more money than them.

If I were not an atheist, I would believe that God had a sense of humour. He gave his chosen people (the Jews) enormous advantages -- high intelligence and high drive -- but to keep it fair he deprived them of something hugely important too: Political sense. So Jews to this day tend very strongly to be Leftist -- even though the chief source of antisemitism for roughly the last 200 years has been the political Left!

And the other side of the coin is that Jews tend to despise conservatives and Christians. Yet American fundamentalist Christians are the bedrock of the vital American support for Israel, the ultimate bolthole for all Jews. So Jewish political irrationality seems to be a rather good example of the saying that "The LORD giveth and the LORD taketh away". There are many other examples of such perversity (or "balance"). The sometimes severe side-effects of most pharmaceutical drugs is an obvious one but there is another ethnic example too, a rather amusing one. Chinese people are in general smart and patient people but their rate of traffic accidents in China is about 10 times higher than what prevails in Western societies. They are brilliant mathematicians and fearless business entrepreneurs but at the same time bad drivers!

The above is good testimony to the accuracy of the basic conservative insight that almost anything in human life is too complex to be reduced to any simple rule and too complex to be reduced to any rule at all without allowance for important exceptions to the rule concerned

"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here. For roughly two centuries now, antisemitism has, throughout the Western world, been principally associated with Leftism (including the socialist Hitler) -- as it is to this day. See here.

Leftists call their hatred of Israel "Anti-Zionism" but Zionists are only a small minority in Israel

Some of the Leftist hatred of Israel is motivated by old-fashioned antisemitism (beliefs in Jewish "control" etc.) but most of it is just the regular Leftist hatred of success in others. And because the societies they inhabit do not give them the vast amount of recognition that their large but weak egos need, some of the most virulent haters of Israel and America live in those countries. So the hatred is the product of pathologically high self-esteem.

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

"With their infernal racial set-asides, racial quotas, and race norming, liberals share many of the Klan's premises. The Klan sees the world in terms of race and ethnicity. So do liberals! Indeed, liberals and white supremacists are the only people left in America who are neurotically obsessed with race. Conservatives champion a color-blind society" -- Ann Coulter

Who said this in 1968? "I am not, and never have been, a man of the right. My position was on the Left and is now in the centre of politics". It was Sir Oswald Mosley, founder and leader of the British Union of Fascists

The term "Fascism" is mostly used by the Left as a brainless term of abuse. But when they do make a serious attempt to define it, they produce very complex and elaborate definitions -- e.g. here and here. In fact, Fascism is simply extreme socialism plus nationalism. But great gyrations are needed to avoid mentioning the first part of that recipe, of course.

Politicians are in general only a little above average in intelligence so the idea that they can make better decisions for us that we can make ourselves is laughable

A quote from the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931–2005: "You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

The Supreme Court of the United States is now and always has been a judicial abomination. Its guiding principles have always been political rather than judicial. It is not as political as Stalin's courts but its respect for the constitution is little better. Some recent abuses: The "equal treatment" provision of the 14th amendment was specifically written to outlaw racial discrimination yet the court has allowed various forms of "affirmative action" for decades -- when all such policies should have been completely stuck down immediately. The 2nd. amendment says that the right to bear arms shall not be infringed yet gun control laws infringe it in every State in the union. The 1st amendment provides that speech shall be freely exercised yet the court has upheld various restrictions on the financing and display of political advertising. The court has found a right to abortion in the constitution when the word abortion is not even mentioned there. The court invents rights that do not exist and denies rights that do.

"Some action that is unconstitutional has much to recommend it" -- Elena Kagan, nominated to SCOTUS by Obama

The U.S. Constitution is neither "living" nor dead. It is fixed until it is amended. But amending it is the privilege of the people, not of politicians or judges

The book, The authoritarian personality, authored by T.W. Adorno et al. in 1950, has been massively popular among psychologists. It claims that a set of ideas that were popular in the "Progressive"-dominated America of the prewar era were "authoritarian". Leftist regimes always are authoritarian so that claim was not a big problem. What was quite amazing however is that Adorno et al. identified such ideas as "conservative". They were in fact simply popular ideas of the day but ones that had been most heavily promoted by the Left right up until the then-recent WWII. See here for details of prewar "Progressive" thinking.

Frank Sulloway, the anti-scientist

The basic aim of all bureaucrats is to maximize their funding and minimize their workload

A lesson in Australian: When an Australian calls someone a "big-noter", he is saying that the person is a chronic and rather pathetic seeker of admiration -- as in someone who often pulls out "big notes" (e.g. $100.00 bills) to pay for things, thus endeavouring to create the impression that he is rich. The term describes the mentality rather than the actual behavior with money and it aptly describes many Leftists. When they purport to show "compassion" by advocating things that cost themselves nothing (e.g. advocating more taxes on "the rich" to help "the poor"), an Australian might say that the Leftist is "big-noting himself". There is an example of the usage here. The term conveys contempt. There is a wise description of Australians generally here

I imagine that few of my readers will understand it, but I am an unabashed monarchist. And, as someone who was born and bred in a monarchy and who still lives there (i.e. Australia), that gives me no conflicts at all. In theory, one's respect for the monarchy does not depend on who wears the crown but the impeccable behaviour of the present Queen does of course help perpetuate that respect. Aside from my huge respect for the Queen, however, my favourite member of the Royal family is the redheaded Prince Harry. The Royal family is of course a military family and Prince Harry is a great example of that. As one of the world's most privileged people, he could well be an idle layabout but instead he loves his life in the army. When his girlfriend Chelsy ditched him because he was so often away, Prince Harry said: "I love Chelsy but the army comes first". A perfect military man! I doubt that many women would understand or approve of his attitude but perhaps my own small army background powers my approval of that attitude.

I imagine that most Americans might find this rather mad -- but I believe that a constitutional Monarchy is the best form of government presently available. Can a libertarian be a Monarchist? I think so -- and prominent British libertarian Sean Gabb seems to think so too! Long live the Queen! (And note that Australia ranks well above the USA on the Index of Economic freedom. Heh!)

Throughout Europe there is an association between monarchism and conservatism. It is a little sad that American conservatives do not have access to that satisfaction. So even though Australia is much more distant from Europe (geographically) than the USA is, Australia is in some ways more of an outpost of Europe than America is! Mind you: Australia is not very atypical of its region. Australia lies just South of Asia -- and both Japan and Thailand have greatly respected monarchies. And the demise of the Cambodian monarchy was disastrous for Cambodia

Throughout the world today, possession of a U.S. or U.K. passport is greatly valued. I once shared that view. Developments in recent years have however made me profoundly grateful that I am a 5th generation Australian. My Australian passport is a door into a much less oppressive and much less messed-up place than either the USA or Britain

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

People who mention differences in black vs. white IQ are these days almost universally howled down and subjected to the most extreme abuse. I am a psychometrician, however, so I feel obliged to defend the scientific truth of the matter: The average African adult has about the same IQ as an average white 11-year-old and African Americans (who are partly white in ancestry) average out at a mental age of 14. The American Psychological Association is generally Left-leaning but it is the world's most prestigious body of academic psychologists. And even they have had to concede that sort of gap (one SD) in black vs. white average IQ. 11-year olds can do a lot of things but they also have their limits and there are times when such limits need to be allowed for.

Jesse Jackson: "There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery -- then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved." There ARE important racial differences.

Some Jimmy Carter wisdom: "I think it's inevitable that there will be a lower standard of living than what everybody had always anticipated," he told advisers in 1979. "there's going to be a downward turning."

R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. He pioneered the free-market reforms which Reagan and Thatcher later unleashed to world-changing effect. That he used far-Leftist methods to suppress far-Leftist violence is reasonable if not ideal. The Leftist view that they should have a monopoly of violence and that others should follow the law is a total absurdity which shows only that their hate overcomes their reason

Joe McCarthy was eventually proved right after the fall of the Soviet Union. To accuse anyone of McCarthyism is to accuse them of accuracy!

The KKK was intimately associated with the Democratic party. They ATTACKED Republicans!

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted.

The "steamroller" above who got steamrollered by his own hubris. Spitzer is a warning of how self-destructive a vast ego can be -- and also of how destructive of others it can be.

Many people hunger and thirst after righteousness. Some find it in the hatreds of the Left. Others find it in the love of Christ. I don't hunger and thirst after righteousness at all. I hunger and thirst after truth. How old-fashioned can you get?

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

“How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values.” ? John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Two lines below of a famous hymn that would be incomprehensible to Leftists today ("honor"? "right"? "freedom?" Freedom to agree with them is the only freedom they believe in)

First to fight for right and freedom,
And to keep our honor clean

It is of course the hymn of the USMC -- still today the relentless warriors that they always were.

The kneejerk response of the Green/Left to people who challenge them is to say that the challenger is in the pay of "Big Oil", "Big Business", "Big Pharma", "Exxon-Mobil", "The Pioneer Fund" or some other entity that they see, in their childish way, as a boogeyman. So I think it might be useful for me to point out that I have NEVER received one cent from anybody by way of support for what I write. As a retired person, I live entirely on my own investments. I do not work for anybody and I am not beholden to anybody. And I have NO investments in oil companies, mining companies or "Big Pharma"

UPDATE: Despite my (statistical) aversion to mining stocks, I have recently bought a few shares in BHP -- the world's biggest miner, I gather. I run the grave risk of becoming a speaker of famous last words for saying this but I suspect that BHP is now so big as to be largely immune from the risks that plague most mining companies. I also know of no issue affecting BHP where my writings would have any relevance. The Left seem to have a visceral hatred of miners. I have never quite figured out why.

I have no hesitation in saying that the single book which has influenced me most is the New Testament. And my Scripture blog will show that I know whereof I speak. Some might conclude that I must therefore be a very confused sort of atheist but I can assure everyone that I do not feel the least bit confused. The New Testament is a lighthouse that has illumined the thinking of all sorts of men and women and I am deeply grateful that it has shone on me.

I am rather pleased to report that I am a lifelong conservative. Out of intellectual curiosity, I did in my youth join organizations from right across the political spectrum so I am certainly not closed-minded and am very familiar with the full spectrum of political thinking. Nonetheless, I did not have to undergo the lurch from Left to Right that so many people undergo. At age 13 I used my pocket-money to subscribe to the "Reader's Digest" -- the main conservative organ available in small town Australia of the 1950s. I have learnt much since but am pleased and amused to note that history has since confirmed most of what I thought at that early age. Conservatism is in touch with reality. Leftism is not.

I imagine that the RD are still sending mailouts to my 1950s address

Most teenagers have sporting and movie posters on their bedroom walls. At age 14 I had a map of Taiwan on my wall.

"Remind me never to get this guy mad at me" -- Instapundit

I have used many sites to post my writings over the years and many have gone bad on me for various reasons. So if you click on a link here to my other writings you may get a "page not found" response if the link was put up some time before the present. All is not lost, however. All my writings have been reposted elsewhere. If you do strike a failed link, just take the filename (the last part of the link) and add it to the address of any of my current home pages and -- Voila! -- you should find the article concerned.

It seems to be a common view that you cannot talk informatively about a country unless you have been there. I completely reject that view but it is nonetheless likely that some Leftist dimbulb will at some stage aver that any comments I make about politics and events in the USA should not be heeded because I am an Australian who has lived almost all his life in Australia. I am reluctant to pander to such ignorance in the era of the "global village" but for the sake of the argument I might mention that I have visited the USA 3 times -- spending enough time in Los Angeles and NYC to get to know a fair bit about those places at least. I did however get outside those places enough to realize that they are NOT America.

If any of the short observations above about Leftism seem wrong, note that they do not stand alone. The evidence for them is set out at great length in my MONOGRAPH on Leftism.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation

My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

COMMENTS: I have gradually added comments facilities to all my blogs. The comments I get are interesting. They are mostly from Leftists and most consist either of abuse or mere assertions. Reasoned arguments backed up by references to supporting evidence are almost unheard of from Leftists. Needless to say, I just delete such useless comments.

You can email me here (Hotmail address). In emailing me, you can address me as "John", "Jon", "Dr. Ray" or "JR" and that will be fine -- but my preference is for "JR"