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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30 June, 2011

Something funny going on at blogger.com

For most of the day, I have been unable to access blogger.com with Google chrome. I get the error message "Bad request". Google's own browser cannot access Google's own blogging platform!

And IE9 is nearly as bad. I can access the site but the "publish" button does not work.

Fortunately, however, Firefox and Opera do work and I have been using those. For a while a post made with Firefox would not show an acknowledgment that the post had been made but that now seems to have been fixed. It pays to have all the main browsers up and running, doesn't it?


The GOP and the Donks are rivals, not opposites

Libertarian writer Anthony Gregory points out below how limited are the differences between the mainstream Left and Right and says that libertarians are the true enemies of the Left.

What he says is correct enough but he seemingly has no clue why that situation prevails. The differences between the two major parties are small because both are vying for the votes of the independent voter. And the independent voter is not a libertarian.

If the GOP were more libertarian, it would lose votes and lose office. Americans have only two choices, center-Left or center-Right. And that infuriates the Left as much as it does libertarians. The only hope is to move the center a bit -- which was Reagan's achievement.

There is an article on the inevitability of political centrism here

The government grows bigger every day and every year, no matter how you measure it. There are more laws, more police, and more prisoners than ever. The empire and presidential power have been on the rise for decades. Spending has increased at all levels. New bureaucracies, edicts, social programs, and prohibitions crop up continually. Almost no regulations are ever repealed – yes, back in the late 1990s, Clinton signed a partial deregulation of certain bank practices (opposed by Ron Paul, as it was phony to begin with), which had nothing to do with the financial meltdown and yet is blamed for every economic problem that unfolded in the last decade. Yes, back in the early 1980s, Reagan cut marginal tax rates while increasing other taxes and positioning himself to double the federal government, and, according to the left-liberals, we’ve been in a laissez-faire tailspin ever since. But anyone who really thinks libertarianism has been dominant in this country clearly has very little understanding of what libertarianism is – or is utterly detached from reality.

The fact is, most left-liberals do hate and fear libertarianism more than they oppose modern conservatism. It makes sense. For one thing, the conservatives and liberals seemingly agree on 90% of the issues, certainly when compared to the views of principled libertarians. They all favor having a strong military. We tend to want to abolish standing armies. They all think the police need more power – to crack down on guns, if you’re a liberal, and to crack down on drugs, if you’re a conservative. We libertarians think police have way too much power and flirt with the idea of doing away with them altogether. The conservatives and liberals all want to keep Medicare, Social Security, and public schools intact, if tweaked around the edges.

Second of all, conservatism is a much better foil for liberals to attack than libertarianism is. They can deal with the friendly rivalry between red-state fascism and blue-state socialism. With the central state as their common ground, the two camps enjoy hurling insults at each other, playing culture war games, vying over power, doing what they can to expand government knowing that even should they lose control, it will eventually come back to them. This might explain why when leftists condemn conservatism for its hypocritical claims to libertarianism, they seldom follow up by saying true libertarianism would in fact be preferable. To the contrary, the argument is usually that since the conservatives are collectivists after all, they should warm up to the liberal flavor of collectivism espoused by Democrats. The left correctly says the right does not embrace genuine free enterprise, but socialism for the rich, and that the right is not really for small government, not when it comes to imposing its values. But then does the left conclude that libertarianism is not so bad, after all? Not usually. For in the end, the more anti-government the right is, the more a menace it is to the left’s project of social democracy and humanitarian militarism.

But libertarianism, however weak its influence today, is a much greater long-term threat to the left than is any form of conservatism, and the leftist intellectuals sense this even if they can’t articulate why. Leftism, whether they know it or not, is a distorted permutation of the classical liberal tradition. The statist left did their deal with the devil – the nation-state, centralized authority of the most rapacious kind – supposedly with the goal of expediting the liberation of the common man and leveling the playing field. More than a century since the progressives and socialists twisted liberalism into an anti-liberty, pro-state ideology, they see that they have made a huge mess of the world, that, as they themselves complain, social inequality persists, corporatism flourishes, and wars rage on. As the chief political architects of the 20th century in the West, they have no one to blame but themselves, and so they target us – the true liberals, the ones who never let go of authentic liberal idealism, love of the individual dignity and rights of every man, woman and child, regardless of nationality or class, and hatred of state violence and coercive authoritarianism in all its forms.

But Barack Obama is really what has made the left-liberal illusion fold under the weight of its own absurdity. Here we had the perfect paragon of left-liberal social democracy. He beat the centrist Hillary Clinton then won the national election. He had a Democratic Congress for two years. He had loads of political capital by virtue of following a completely failed and unpopular Republican administration. The world welcomed him. The center cheered him. And what did he do?

He shoveled money toward corporate America, banks and car manufacturers. He championed the bailouts of the same Wall Street firms his very partisans blamed for the financial collapse. He picked the CEO of General Electric to oversee the unemployment problem. He appointed corporate state regulars for every major role in financial central planning. After guaranteeing a new era of transparency, he conducted all his regulatory business behind a shroud of unprecedented secrecy. He planned his health care scheme, the crown jewel of his domestic agenda, in league with the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

He continued the war in Iraq, even extending Bush’s schedule with a goal of staying longer than the last administration planned. He tripled the U.S. presence in Afghanistan then took over two years to announce the eventual drawdown to bring it back to only double the Bush presence. He widened the war in Pakistan, launching drone attacks at a dizzying pace. He started a war on false pretenses with Libya, shifting the goal posts and doing it all without Congressional approval. He bombed Yemen and lied about it.

He enthusiastically signed on to warrantless wiretapping, renditioning, the Patriot Act, prison abuse, detention without trial, violations of habeas corpus, and disgustingly invasive airport security measures. He deported immigrants more than Bush did. He increased funding for the drug war in Mexico. He invoked the Espionage Act more than all previous presidents combined, tortured a whistleblower, and claimed the right to unilaterally kill any U.S. citizen on Earth without even a nod from Congress or a shrug from the courts.

The left-liberals who stand by this war criminal and Wall Street shill have made their choice: better to have the militarism and police state, so long as it means a little more influence over domestic politics, even if that too is compromised by corporate interference, than it is to embrace a radical antiwar agenda that might complicate their domestic aspirations.

Our critics complain that America has "moved to the right" in the last three decades, and that would supposedly include Obama’s record so far, which appears in most part like a third Bush term. Yet not a single one of the egregious policies above passes libertarian muster. They are all anathema to the libertarian. And so are almost all policies embarked upon in the last three generations. And surely, this is true most of all for the wars. The few honest folks on the left recognize this.

Unfortunately, most of the left would rather not focus on the 98% of the Obama agenda that mirrors that of George W. Bush, including all the war on terror excesses they condemned for seven years. Or they comically attribute Obama’s Bush-like record as being part of the "culture of individualism" that we libertarians are somehow responsible for. Libertarianism, you see, can be found in the Obama White House as much as it lurks behind every Bush. You can expand government in every area but if you say something nice about the market or cut taxes by a couple percent, everything bad that happens on your watch is to be blamed on libertarianism.

Whether a willful misdirection or not, these leftists target their animus upon those who dare think that a nearly four-trillion-dollar federal government is too big, blaming Republicans for being too libertarian and blaming libertarians for being too idealistic or selfish.

Everyone who votes for Barack Obama, a man with the blood of thousands of innocents on his hands, all to avoid another Republican administration that will presumably (but unlikely) slash back the domestic state, would seem to have some sorry priorities. You really care about the poorest, most innocent people? Throw your party, your president, your social democratic dreams under the bus – threaten to withhold your votes from any Democrat who lends his support to any war ever again.

Such talk about withdrawing consent from the state frightens the statist left, who may also be quite embarrassed that the most principled opponents of empire and oppression are obviously not the economic interventionists, but those whose philosophy lies somewhere on the spectrum between anarchism and anti-Federalism. Aside from their sheer embarrassment there is another explanation for their deflection, for their attacks on libertarianism while their president shreds the Bill of Rights, bankrupts the country, and slaughters in their name: The left knows that in the very long run, libertarianism really is the great philosophical adversary it must contend with. The future clash will be between those who seek freedom from the state and those who seek salvation through the state, those who see the state as the enemy and those who somehow think the state can protect the masses from the ruling class.

As libertarians, our dream is more utopian and our ideals are loftier, but our understanding of reality is also much more grounded and justified. Voluntarism and the market are far more humane and productive than any coercive alternative. The state is the enemy of the little guy. This is an immutable truth of the human condition. Obama, like Bush before him, only demonstrates the impossibility of divorcing the party of power from the party of privilege. Eventually the young, the idealistic, and those who hope for real change will retreat from the lying promises of leftist statism and embrace the radical and realistic program of individual liberty. It has already begun to happen, which is why the other side is frantic and scared.




Steve Jobs says no to greedy city officials: "Jobs displayed a project that any city would love to have. The park-like campus increases the landscaping at the location by 350 percent, almost doubles the trees on the site, and reduces the surface parking by 90 percent. After his presentation of the stunning project, the very first question from the very first council member was, 'What’s in it for us?' Apparently, making innovative and life-enriching products that serve the needs of millions of people and being the largest taxpayer and premier employer in the city isn’t enough; what else can we shake you down for?"

Zoning laws, another blight on progress: "It’s axiomatic to every libertarian that the best method to determine the best use of resources and effort is the free market. Thus, just about every time I take a drive and look around, I seethe at zoning laws, their inexcusable assault upon property rights and their incredible stupidity in application. They signify power and its detrimental effects on society."

McDonald’s as the paradigm of progress: "The nice folks at the local McDonald's know me well, but even they were puzzled when I snapped a dozen images of their newly restored interior, which is absolutely beautiful. Like most fast-food places, the management is used to customers but still a bit surprised by dedicated fans like me. I feel vindicated by recent data on this company's hiring in the midst of terrible economic times."

Amazon drops California associates to avoid sales tax: "Amazon said Thursday it is terminating its relationship with thousands of California associates because of a new law that would require the online mega-retailer to collect sales taxes if it has affiliates in the state. Governor Jerry Brown signed the measure into law on Thursday as part of the state's plan to reduce its budget gap. It is expected to add $200 million to the Golden State's coffers."

RI: Legislature passes civil union bill: "Less than a week after New York became the nation's sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, Rhode Island state lawmakers on Wednesday voted in favor of a bill that permits civil unions between gay and lesbian couples. The measure, which passed the state Senate by a count of 21-16, is widely seen as a compromise intended to provide same-sex couples with added rights and benefits, while also preventing an expanded legal definition of marriage."

Netherlands: Bill would ban religious butchering: "The Dutch parliament passed a new animal slaughter law that requires butchers to stun livestock before killing it. The bill removes a religious exemption that allowed Jews and Muslims to slaughter animals according to their prescribed customs. The bill is not yet an official law and must pass a senate vote. ... Under the law, Muslim and Hebrew butchers would have to stun animals either electronically, mechanically or with gas before slaughter. This goes against the Halal and Kosher practices of the respective religions, and observers would be forced to buy meat from outside the country."

Obamanomics: It’s worse than you think: "The official unemployment rate is back up to more than 9 percent, and the percent of workers who are unemployed or have given up trying to find jobs is higher than it was during the Great Depression. George W. Bush may have owned the Great Recession of 2008–2009, but Barack Obama owns the Second Great Depression of 2011. His policies -- call them Obamanomics -- are to blame."

Another plea to end the insanity: "Mexico is rapidly withering. Its very life is being siphoned off by a hopeless war on illegal drugs. If ever there was an abject display of government pigheadedness and stupidity, it is this ridiculous insistence on banning the unbannable. In the past five years, Mexico tallied 34,600 homicides related to its government's war on illegal drugs."

Right on marijuana: "The War on Drugs, which is celebrating its 40th year, has been a colossal failure. It has curtailed personal freedom, created a violent black market, and filled our prisons. It has also trampled on states’ rights: Sixteen states have legalized 'medical marijuana' — which is, admittedly, often code for legalizing pot in general — only to clash with federal laws that ban weed throughout the land. That last sin is not the War on Drugs’ greatest, but it is not insignificant, either."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

America's bureaucratic oppressors

While 22-year-old Rory McIlroy was teeing up on June 16 during the first round of his historic victory at the U.S. Open, another drama unfolded outside Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland.

A Montgomery County inspector busted some kids for running a lemonade stand at which they were setting aside half the proceeds for pediatric cancer victims. The charge? No permit.

One of the dads involved got a $500 fine. After a TV station's tape of the bust went viral, the county backed off, canceled the fine, and let the kids set up on a side street. The children decided to donate the entire take to cancer kids.

Although it ended well, the incident became news because it illustrates how bureaucrats can abuse power and bully citizens – even kids.

Along the same lines, many Americans were outraged upon seeing footage in April of a Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) agent patting down a six-year-old girl at the New Orleans airport and an eight-year-old boy patted down in Portland (Oregon) International Airport.

But wait. TSA topped that in Kansas City, where they patted down an eight-month-old baby on May 7 after the infant's stroller caused the scanner to beep. A pastor, Jacob Jester, who was in line, snapped a photo, and Twittered it.

What got into those agents? As far as I can see from the picture, the baby was not dressed in a black burqa with a suspicious bulge, nor maliciously brandishing a bottle or pacifier. Jester, who said he respects the TSA for trying to ensure everyone’s safety, commented, "I'm not out to embarrass the TSA But I do believe there has to be a line drawn. I do not believe that an eight-month-old constitutes a security threat."

Public exposure and outrage is the best medicine for curbing overzealous bureaucrats. On June 22, the TSA said it would do less intrusive checks on children. This will reduce but not abolish such procedures. Wouldn't want al-Qaeda to get the green light to hot-pack the Pampers.

Another bureaucratic outrage is simmering in the Midwest, where a family has been threatened with a potential fine of $4 million for raising bunnies without permission from the federal government. Blogger John McCarty, who publishes on BigGovernment.com, has been following the story, abbreviated here:

John and Judy Dollarhite of Nixa, Mo. wanted to teach their teen-aged son about management, so they got a male and female rabbit in 2005 and let him sell the bunnies. In 2009, his parents paid him $200 for the business and took in about $4,600 a year selling bunnies.

Before you could say "What's Up Doc?" along came a woman from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who asked to inspect the operation, to which the Dollarhites say they readily agreed. The inspector found not only that they lacked a federal permit for selling more than $500 worth of rabbits in a year, but that the tidy, 30-inch by 36-inch cages were – wait for it – a quarter of an inch too small.

The FDA came back in January, 2010, and issued a warning. The case dragged on. On advice of an attorney, the couple went out of the bunny business, unloading their equipment on Craigslist. But the FDA sent them a certified letter in April 2011, assessing a fine of $90,643, which, if not paid, could result in civil fines of up to $10,000 for each violation (for about 390 bunnies sold), which adds up to $3.9 million. The FDA helpfully advised the couple to pay the $90,643 fine online with a credit card by May 23.

On May 25, at a rally outside the FDA's office in Ozark, Judy Dollarhite called the experience a "nightmare," telling the crowd that "it certainly wasn't what we expected when we got a few bunnies to try to teach our kid where money comes from, where food comes from, family farm values we grew up with." Here's the most chilling part. She said an FDA official told her by phone that even though they were out of business, the FDA was going to prosecute them anyway "to make an example of us."

Think about how often this happens with other federal agencies, such as newly empowered Environmental Protection Agency agents looking for carbon-related "crimes" and often dry "wetlands." Or Obama’s union-packed National Labor Relations Board, telling Boeing, Soviet-style, that it cannot operate a new airliner plant in right-to-work South Carolina.

The bunny saga is still unfolding, with the couple asking Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt to enter the fray. The FDA should back off, cancel the fine, and discipline any bureaucrat who abused this couple. This kind of thuggery should never be tolerated in a free country.

Let's all hope that reason prevails. From kid searches to lemonade stand shakedowns, bunny busts and EPA and NLRB goons, an informed, active citizenry and media exposure are crucial to thwarting tyranny.

Cutting back the deep, deep thickets of unconstitutional bureaucracy would be a more permanent solution.



Leftists hate the way the U.S. constitution hinders their power grabbing

Some clever people today ask whether the United States has really been "exceptional." You couldn't be more exceptional in the 18th century than to create your fundamental document -- the Constitution of the United States -- by opening with the momentous words, "We the people..."

Those three words were a slap in the face to those who thought themselves entitled to rule, and who regarded the people as if they were simply human livestock, destined to be herded and shepherded by their betters. Indeed, to this very day, elites who think that way -- and that includes many among the intelligentsia, as well as political messiahs -- find the Constitution of the United States a real pain because it stands in the way of their imposing their will and their presumptions on the rest of us.

More than a hundred years ago, so-called "Progressives" began a campaign to undermine the Constitution's strict limitations on government, which stood in the way of self-anointed political crusaders imposing their grand schemes on all the rest of us. That effort to discredit the Constitution continues to this day, and the arguments haven't really changed much in a hundred years.

The cover story in the July 4th issue of Time magazine is a classic example of this arrogance. It asks of the Constitution: "Does it still matter?"

A long and rambling essay by Time magazine's managing editor, Richard Stengel, manages to create a toxic blend of the irrelevant and the erroneous.

The irrelevant comes first, pointing out in big letters that those who wrote the Constitution "did not know about" all sorts of things in the world today, including airplanes, television, computers and DNA.

This may seem like a clever new gambit but, like many clever new gambits, it is a rehash of arguments made long ago. Back in 1908, Woodrow Wilson said, "When the Constitution was framed there were no railways, there was no telegraph, there was no telephone,"

In Mr. Stengel's rehash of this argument, he declares: "People on the right and left constantly ask what the framers would say about some event that is happening today."

Maybe that kind of talk goes on where he hangs out. But most people have enough common sense to know that a constitution does not exist to micro-manage particular "events" or express opinions about the passing scene.

A constitution exists to create a framework for government -- and the Constitution of the United States tries to keep the government inside that framework.

From the irrelevant to the erroneous is a short step for Mr. Stengel. He says, "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it certainly doesn't say so."

Apparently Mr. Stengel has not read the Tenth Amendment: "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."

Does the Constitution matter? If it doesn't, then your Freedom doesn't matter.



Why rents are so high

A recent article in the Washington Post discussed the current cost of rental housing. The article, citing a Harvard study on the topic, claimed that 26% of all tenants spend more than half of their income on rent and utilities. That’s the highest percentage in the last 50 years!

The article attributes the shortage of low-cost rentals to two principal factors: The cutback in residential development due to the deterioration of the economy in 2009, and the claim – at least according to a report produced for Congress by the Obama Administration – that financing is more readily available for high-end rental properties.

The Harvard study, the Obama report, and the Washington Post all display an appalling ignorance of the real estate market – or worse, participation in a cover-up intended to (again) protect their the political allies responsible for this mess.

Here are some of the real reasons for the rental housing shortage:

1. Government at all levels meddles in the market, forcing anyone who wants to build rental housing to jump through endless hoops, thereby causing interminable delays.

2. All this meddling causes significant cost increases, only to drive up the construction cost of each unit and the resulting monthly rent for the tenant.

3. Governments charge excessive fees under the misguided notion that the “deep-pocket developer” is bearing the cost when it is actually the tenant who pays a higher monthly rent.

4. Governments demand that developers pay for unrelated city enhancements such as street lights or parks. These are nothing more than bribes paid to public officials to complete their pet projects; again causing the development cost – and the resulting monthly rent – to increase substantially.

5. In many areas, politicians appease their union friends by requiring work to be done at what is referred to as the prevailing wage (union wage levels), thus further exacerbating construction costs.

6. Governments impose price restrictions (rent control) on apartments, limiting the ability of a developer to generate sufficient revenue to justify a project.

The fact that the Obama Administration wasted money on a study to tell Congress that financing is only available for higher-end apartments just boggles the mind. Even novices in the housing market can identify the real culprit: Government has made affordable housing impossible to achieve – and therefore no responsible lender will finance these projects.

That is why the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LITHC) Program was established in 1986. This program utilizes private equity for the development of housing for low-income Americans, and today accounts for the vast majority of affordable housing developed in the U.S.

I recently spoke with Roger Davila, a developer I have known since my involvement with the LITHC program in 1992. Roger continues to this day to construct residential real estate for low-income Americans, but he has regrettably concluded that government wonks and politicians have twisted this program to once again make it difficult to develop any housing in a cost-effective manner.

The LITHC program was established by the federal government, is run by state governments, and requires that local government approve each project. Davila stated over the years, California State Treasurers (like other state treasurers) lowered the acceptable income level for potential renters, which (because of increased risk) resulted in a demand for additional financing by local redevelopment agencies. That just means more delays, more governmental oversight, and less ability to profitably produce quality affordable housing.

Davila also told me that construction and financing requirements have further impeded the prospect of getting a project off the drawing board and into the building stage. Requiring nicer projects with greater facilities may be admirable, but it costs money and limits the ability of a developer to make the project work economically. When local government forces you to include new social engineering programs – like after-school programs, ESL classes and computer training for seniors – you begin to wonder if “affordable” is actually in the terminology of the bureaucrats involved.

We have a significant housing problem in the United States. Most of it is caused by do-gooder politicians sticking their noses into an area where they have little or no knowledge, and imposing rules that undermine their actual objectives. If history repeats itself, future “solutions” will only involve more meddling and result in less affordable housing. That will only change when the American people get rid of professional politicians and bureaucrats, and assign the task to responsible adults who actually want to fix the problem.




Cluelessness continues at the TSA: "Yesterday, the TSA defended its patdown of 95-year-old cancer patient forced to remove her adult diaper as part of its enhanced search of what surely must have appeared a serious suspect to someone with no mother. The leukemia patient on her way to an assisted living facility not only had her adult diaper taken away, but as she had no spare, had to continue her journey wearing no underwear"

NJ: Christie Signs Pension and Health Reform Bill Into Law: "Gov. Chris Christie today signed into law controversial legislation that will force public employees to pay more for their pension and health insurance. Starting on Friday, public employees across all levels of government will pay an additional percent of their pay into the pension system. The legislation will save at least $132 billion dollars over the next 30 years. Christie said the legislation will not only save the state billions, but is an assurance to government workers that they will have a pension to collect when they retire.

Congress moves forward on free trade deals: "The Senate will officially take up three trade deals and a scaled-back version of a jobs retraining program for laid-off workers on Thursday. Senate negotiators will have to start pounding out the details of the trade deals, as well as funding for the jobs retraining program -- whose funding ran dry in February"

Paternalism and the drug war: "The U.S. Supreme Court has declared a California law banning the sale of violent videos unconstitutional. That’s fine, but how about going further and declaring laws banning the possession and distribution of illicit drugs by adults to be unconstitutional too? After all, if we’re going to treat minors like adults, what would be wrong with treating adults as adults too? Don’t drug laws treat American adults as little children?"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Greece must suffer

Greece since it joined the EU in 1981 has been thoroughly corrupt and economically misgoverned by any reasonable standard. Andreas Papandreou, the current prime minister’s father who led Greece for the first decade after joining the EU, was a uniquely unpleasant combination of corruption and academic leftism (he had chaired the Economics Department at Berkeley.) Instead of steering the Greek economy to reap the enormous potential benefits of its premature EU membership, the internationally sophisticated Papandreou manipulated the EU system of slush funds so as to keep a gigantic stream of resources flowing to the bloated Greek public sector. The result was an economy focused almost entirely on the public sector and tourism (which also benefited from innumerable EU grants) with the populace enjoying living standards far in excess of their ability to pay their way.

Greece joined the euro in 2001 based on false statistics, its debt total manipulated by an extremely expensive deal arranged by the ineffable Goldman Sachs. Once a euro member, it took no notice of the “Maastricht Treaty” strictures against excessive public sector deficits, other than to falsify its figures for a number of years in order to avoid excessive criticism which might have blocked the flow of slush funds.

The result of all this was to give Greeks as a whole, and particularly the Greek public sector, living standards hugely in excess of those justified by their productivity. By 2008, Greek GDP per capita, based on purchasing power parity, was a staggering $32,000. That was almost level with the EU average ($33,600), not much below Germany ($34,800), above Italy ($31,000) and South Korea ($26,000) and far above Portugal ($22,000) which in reality had productivity well ahead of Greece. By sucking in borrowing and massive EU grants Greece had distorted its economy as much as the former East Germany, which in 1989 was reckoned by the Economist to be richer than Britain. In productivity Greece’s real comparables were its neighbors Bulgaria (GDP per capita $12,900) and Macedonia (GDP per capita $9,000). While Bulgaria and Macedonia had suffered under a communist dictatorship and a social-ownership dictatorship respectively, by now, 20 years after their liberation, both countries have decent governments and economies more market-oriented, with more productive businesses, than a Greece that willingly succumbed to 30 years of Papandreouism.

Because of the size of the required adjustment and the misconceptions of its people, Greece is now quite unable to remain within the euro and converge its productivity to its living standards. Latvia managed to adjust its living standards successfully (it was not a euro member, but the lats was fixed against the euro), but the required adjustment was much less and the Latvian people were less pampered and much more disciplined. Even in this deep recession, Greece runs a substantial current account deficit, while its budget deficit in 2011 is almost 10% of GDP in spite of alleged massive and painful austerity measures.

At this point the incentives are all wrong. Greece cannot solve its own problems, so its best hope is to get massive “loans” from the EU and the IMF, while reforming as little as possible. Privatization, touted by the EU as a potential partial solution, is not going to work because the Greek public sector is so featherbedded and unproductive that its assets are worth very little. Thus Greek public sector workers throw paving stones, the Greek government produces “reform” programs that do as little as it can get away with and pressure is continually put on the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF to find more money from somewhere.

Not only does this make no progress towards reform in Greece, it produces perverse incentives in the other weaker euro members that make the currency’s position increasingly precarious. While Portugal and Ireland have thrown out the governments that caused most of the trouble, in Italy and Spain it is becoming increasingly clear to the populace that the best way to maintain their living standards, especially in the public sector, is to reform as little as possible, thereby gaining access to cheap public sector funding from the EU, the ECB and the IMF rather than relying on the expensive and doubtfully available free market.

In other words, just as was the case for the admirals of 1756, the weaker sisters of the EU need a little “encouragement” to convince them that reining in their public sectors and reforming their economies is truly in their interests. As George II was well aware, this can best be achieved by making an example of an unlucky backslider.

One cannot shoot a country, or even an economy, but the EU can achieve the required effect by compulsorily drachmaizing the Greek economy (if necessary, by refusing to lend any more money, to accept euro payments from Greek banks, or to deliver any further euro currency within Greece’s borders.) This can be done quite quickly; the new currency can be printed by an international security printer in a few weeks, and the exchange can be mandated over a weekend. The process would be very similar to the “pesoification” of the Argentine economy in December 2001. For a temporary period, Greeks would be placed in the same position as Bulgarians and Romanians, without full rights of movement in the EU. To keep the Greek banks solvent, their euro deposits would be converted compulsorily into new drachmas. The Greek government might also find it needed exchange controls in the short term as no new international funding would be available.

Following the conversion, the drachma would probably drop to about one quarter of its previous value, as did the Argentine peso in 2002. This would not reduce Greek living standards by three quarters, but by about half – Mercedes in Athens would become four times as expensive, but haircuts and moussaka would not. Greece would then need to renegotiate its international debt, involving a substantial write-down of principal. Greek banks would be insolvent, but could be recapitalized with new drachmas by the government, while foreign banks which suffered losses on Greek paper could be bailed out by their own governments if that was mistakenly thought desirable.

With wage costs at one quarter of their previous level, around those of Bulgaria and Macedonia, Greece would now be able to export successfully, and within a year or two its payments deficit would become a surplus. At that point, the future would be in the hands of the Greek people. If they continued to elect Papandreouists, expanded their public sector and presented a surly attitude to foreign tourists and investors, they would stay poor. Their lives would be much less comfortable than those of the post-2003 Argentines, because unlike Argentina Greece has few natural resources. If on the other hand Greece developed its now bargain-priced tourism on a free market basis, cut back its overgrown government and remained a haven for shipping services, then from their new lower level the Greeks’ living standards would rapidly improve, this time on a sound unsubsidized basis.

Either way, EU subsidies should be cut off altogether, to keep the Greek government honest and assist in repaying EU taxpayers for the costs of the bailouts followed by default. If Greece foolishly wished to leave the EU because of the new austerity, it should be free to do so.

For the rest of the eurozone’s weak sisters, and their inhabitants, the Greek example would be salutary. They would see that the cost of misbehavior is truly gigantic, and is imposed by a cruel world rather than by politicians who can be badgered for more loans and subsidies. Instead of a formula to which lip-service is paid, the Maastricht Criteria on budgets and debt, or even tighter restrictions, would be taken as genuine constraints. Since the consequences of failure would now be visible, weak sister politicians would no longer have the incentive to continue wasteful spending and subsidies, fudge the figures, beg for funding from international lenders and engage in anti-market demagoguery. Instead, they would have to take steps to slim down the weak sisters’ public sectors, reform their labor laws and improve their education and training systems. Thereby their economies would once more become productive members of the euro area.



The crumbling of the Welfare State

The welfare state is taken for granted as the "normal" state of affairs, as if it has always existed. At least, it is assumed that the welfare state has been around for so many decades that the current crisis is just a temporary aberration, a rough patch that we can get through with only minor reforms. But the actual economic history does not bear this out. The welfare state "as we know it"--that is, at its current size--is a product of recent decades. In all of its branches, it has vastly increased just in the past 30 to 40 years. So the current crisis is not some temporary aberration. It is cause and effect. It is a direct consequence of the modern welfare state

Let's take a look at the major branches of the welfare state, particularly the ones that are in crisis. They are: education, government employment, health care, and retirement.

The first two are interconnected. State governments are in crisis, not because of firefighters and policeman, but mostly because of salaries and pensions for public school teachers. Government spending on all levels for public education has more than doubled since 1970, after adjusting for inflation, with no improvement in the system's results.

Something similar has been happening in higher education, mostly through the indirect mechanism of student loans. I recently had a conversation with some folks who went to college in the 1960s. When they went to school, none of them had even heard of such a thing as a student loan. It is an institution that grew in the 1970s, with vigorous government encouragement and guarantees, as part of an effort to make college education an entitlement. By the time I went to college, in the 1980s, student loans had become ubiquitous. Since then they have become ruinous. Subsidized loans have fueled decades of rapid growth in tuition, an increase that makes the housing bubble look modest.

Now let's turn to government employment. This, also, is an integral part of the welfare state. It has long been a means for politicians to provide jobs, salaries, benefits, and pensions to blocs of highly motivated political supporters. Here again, we find that the large-scale looting of the public treasury is relatively recent.

Consider a recent report about the origin of disastrous pension and health-care obligations for city employees in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1989, the city's Retirement Board, which had been packed with a majority of union representatives, discovered it had the power to unilaterally increase pensions and disability payments--and they proceeded to do so. An exasperated city official rushed into the mayor's office to report, "They just broke the city." A new report, in the New York Times of all places, describes a similar shakedown effort, "Operation Domino," in which representatives of government employees' unions in California went town to town bullying government officials into voting for ever more generous wages and benefits.

And then there is the great example of Greece. We're used to assuming that the Europeans are a bunch of socialists, but the Greek welfare state is actually relatively recent, dating to the rise to power of the Panhellenic Socialist Party in 1981, which created comprehensive entitlements to health care and old-age pensions. The system immediately caused a crisis, particularly a shortage of doctors and hospitals. But serious reform was put off by Greece's entry into the European Union. One of the main functions of Europe's monetary union was to allow the welfare states of Southern Europe--the so-called PIGS nations, Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain--to ride off of Germany's good credit and borrow enormous sums of money. They used this debt to delay the day of reckoning, which has finally arrived.

Add all of this up and we can roughly measure the half-life of the welfare state, its rate of fiscal decay. The time from the creation of a generous welfare state to its fiscal collapse is about 30 years.

Yes, many of the institutions of the welfare state were in place, both here and in Greece, for longer than 30 years. But they had not grown to full size. Social Security, when it was first adopted, provided benefits only for the last few years of the average person's life. These institutions were just the camel's nose in the tent. It is primarily in the past 30 years that the camel has nosed itself all the way in and filled up the tent.

In the US and Northern Europe, the process of decay has arguably taken a little longer. That is partly because we started with a much more productive economy, and also because we have benefited from a stronger political opposition, which slowed the expansion of the welfare state. This has delayed the inevitable collapse, but it has not fundamentally changed our direction.

The overall conclusion remains: the generous welfare state is a relatively recent experiment, and it is in the throes of a spectacular, world-wide economic failure.

I remember when the financial crisis hit, two and a half years ago, hearing a decrepit old British Marxist declare that this would do for capitalism what the fall of the Berlin Wall did for socialism. He had it completely backwards. By accelerating the financial collapse of the welfare state, the economic downturn will provide the second half of the lesson we should have learned when the wall fell. Back then we learned that full-blown, totalitarian socialism was a failure. Now we are learning that the moderate, "democratic" welfare state is a failure.

The only question is: why did anyone think otherwise? That's especially true when you recall that defenders of capitalism warned decades ago about all of the consequences we are seeing today. Why did everyone think we could avoid them?

The big task of our era--which we are beginning to see in the austerity measures in Europe, in state-level votes to curb unions and slash the pay of government employees, and in proposals for reform of the big middle class entitlements--is a slow, painful, reluctant unwinding of the welfare state.

What we need to realize is that the modern welfare state is a temporary aberration, historically, economically, and morally. It was a brief historical holiday from the basic principle that wealth is earned through work. It was a system that could not work because it tried to defy the laws of nature. We need to grasp that basic lesson now, and proceed deliberately and quickly with the task of dismantling the welfare state and rebuilding our economies on the secure footing of individualism and capitalism.




Soros trying to stack courts, say critics: "Billionaire George Soros spends tens of millions each year supporting a range of liberal social and political causes, from drug legalization to immigration reform to gay marriage to abolishing the death penalty. But a less well-known Soros priority -- replacing elections for judges with selection-by-committee -- now has critics accusing him of trying to stack the courts. Soros has spent several million dollars in the past decade in an attempt to get more states to scrap elections and adopt the merit method. Supporters say it would allow judges to focus on interpreting the law rather than on raising campaign funds and winning elections."

Secret survey to gauge doctor access: "Alarmed by a shortage of primary care doctors, Obama administration officials are recruiting a team of 'mystery shoppers' to pose as patients, call doctors' offices, and request appointments to see how difficult it is for people to get care when they need it. The administration says the survey will address a 'critical public policy problem': the increasing shortage of primary care doctors, including specialists in internal medicine and family practice. It will also try to discover whether doctors are accepting patients with private insurance while turning away those in government health programs that pay lower reimbursement rates."

Biotech fights medical rationing panels: "Robert Coughlin faced a busy agenda recently when he landed in Washington. He and a team of Massachusetts life sciences executives attended an evening fund-raiser for Senator John F. Kerry. The next day, he pressed his case to Kerry’s staff members. Coughlin’s objective: get the Massachusetts Democrat to help torpedo a new government panel designed to reduce Medicare costs. Coughlin, president and chief executive of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, is part of an army of health care industry representatives from Massachusetts and around the country who want to block creation of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a key piece of President Obama’s healthcare overhaul law."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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)


27 June, 2011

China trusts the Euro more than the Greenback!

Given the crisis in the Eurozone, what on earth could motivate China to buy Euro-denominated bonds? It isn't for love of Europe, you can be sure. It's all just a comment on the Greenback. As troubled as the Euro is, China sees it as having a better future than the inflated dollar. What a comedown that is for the Greenback! The Mediterranean end of the EU might be in financial trouble but -- thanks to the dummy in the White House -- the WHOLE of America is in financial trouble

Europeans were of course both surprised and pleased to hear that China has declared its intention to buy more Euro-denominated bonds. And what will it be buying those bonds with? Any greenbacks it has. It is trying to get rid of greenbacks any way it can -- while they are still worth something.
China has vowed to increase its support of the eurozone after pledging to spend billions of pounds propping up the single currency. Premier Wen Jiabao said it will keep buying government bonds – the debts of stricken European nations.

In a boost for Greece ahead of a pivotal vote on greater austerity cuts tomorrow, Mr Wen said Europe could count on his ‘unremitting’ support.

However, according to billionaire speculator George Soros, the debt crisis has pushed the eurozone to the ‘verge of an economic collapse’. It was all but ‘inevitable’ that at least one stricken member will have to exit the euro because of massive debts, the hedge fund tycoon warned.

His warning came just days after Bank of England’s Governor, Mervyn King, branded European attempts to shore up Greece as a ‘mess’.

Huge demonstrations are once again expected in Athens as the government there makes a final attempt to approve almost £25billion of cuts which are a condition of the latest bailout. If the Greek parliament does not pass the austerity budget tomorrow, the nation will receive no more support and is likely to run out of money by the middle of next month.

But the turmoil engulfing the region has not diminished China’s desire to buy up more European debt. China has foreign reserves of around £2trillion and is the largest creditor to the United States.

At the start of a three-day visit to Britain yesterday, Mr Wen said: ‘China is a long-term investor in Europe’s sovereign debt market. In recent years, we have increased by quite a big margin our holdings of government bonds. We will consistently continue to support Europe and the euro.’



Condemning America's children to live in “Greece”

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released its latest edition of the Long-Term Budget Outlook, and it makes for grim reading. The assessment needs to be read and understood by every member of both the administration and the legislature. It tells us quite simply that our fiscal policy is unsustainable. If policymakers fail to act now or act in the wrong way, they will condemn our children to live in an America unrecognizable to the Founding Fathers.

Federal debt is currently at its highest level since just after World War II, but unlike in those dark days, there is no letup in increasing public expenditure in sight. America’s welfare-state chickens are coming home to roost, as the retirement of the baby boomers “portends a significant and sustained increase in the share of the population receiving benefits from Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.”

Add to this government investment in health care rising sharper than any other per-person expenditure, and we have a situation that the CBO director describes starkly on his blog, where he says, “Putting fiscal policy on a sustainable path will require significant changes relative to our historical experience in popular programs, people’s tax payments, or both.”

America’s current fiscal policy has reached a point of no return. The CBO has essentially echoed the advisory from Standard & Poor’s that I wrote about here in April, warning that things cannot go on this way.

So what are policymakers to do? Unfortunately, the current fiscal debate is between two options, of which one is disastrous and the other doesn’t go far enough. The first option - raise taxes to balance the books - would turn America into a European-style welfare state, sclerotic and indeed a repudiation of America’s founding genius. The trouble is that America already resembles the European Union internally. Industrious states like Texas (which play the role of Germany) continually bailing out welfare states, such as California (which are instantly recognizable as Greece). Massive tax increases to preserve government spending will turn the rest of America into one giant California. There will be no other nation willing to bail us out, unless China suddenly discovers a feeling of international bonhomie that has somewhat been lacking in its foreign-affairs history.

The other alternative - large spending cuts - represents only a partial solution. Cut are a necessary but insufficient condition of recovery. That is because, as the Competitive Enterprise Institute demonstrates every year in its report “Ten Thousand Commandments,” the growing burden of regulation - intrusive government without large direct spending - also represents a serious impediment to wealth creation. Indeed, internal studies suggest that our figure of $1.75 trillion in annual regulatory costs to the economy actually understates the size of the burden.

Therefore, policymakers should pursue a three-part solution to the long-term budget problem:

*Fix the problems of the past by enacting serious reform of the main expenditure programs - Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and Obamacare (not forgetting that there is also a significant local expenditure problem in the shape of public-sector pensions).

*Solve the problems of the present by enacting significant deregulatory policies, in order to stimulate business activity, reduce unemployment and increase government revenues without increasing taxes. Such policies include the abolition of entire government departments, establishing an independent bipartisan deregulation commission, adopting the “one in, one out” principle of no new regulations without repealing older regulations, and ensuring proper review of agencies’ claims of benefits resulting from regulations.

* Wall off the future by ensuring that Americans yet to be born are not saddled with the same “terms and conditions” of the welfare and regulatory state as their forebears. To this end, the government should withdraw not just from Afghanistan, but from its adventures in regulating new sectors such as technology and domestic microfinance, to name just two.

America needs to recognize that the period of big government begun by Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt was an aberration that has led to this unsustainable situation. If we are to live up to the founding values of America, we must heed these warnings and act now.



What should we do about those food speculators oppressing the poor?

The comment below is from Britain but Obama has also demonized speculators

A number of people have been screaming recently that speculation in food is just immoral. Futures, derivatives, options, in food commodities is evil, oppresses, starves even, the poor and should thus at least be curbed if not banned outright. Oxfam, the World Development Movement, Nicholas Sarkozy, these sorts of people are leading the charge.

The the adults at the World Bank step into the conversation.
The World Bank is taking the rare step of encouraging companies in developing countries to buy insurance in the derivatives markets against sudden changes in food prices with a deal that should allow them to hedge $4bn worth of commodities.

As they say:
Robert Zoellick, World Bank president, said on Tuesday the “agriculture price risk management” tool showed what “sensible financial engineering” could do. “Make lives better for the poor.”
He added: “We have been in a period of extraordinary volatility in food prices, which poses a real danger of irreparable harm to the most vulnerable nations.”

Food prices were “the single gravest threat” facing developing countries, he added.

Quite. What the entire speculative edifice allows is the transfer of price risk from the producer and consumer to the speculators in between. So if your concern is that the poor are damaged by food price variability (which they indeed are) then the sensible thing to do is subsidise the poor's access to the speculative edifice so that they can transfer that risk of food price variability to the speculators.

Not, as the NGOs and the French President are doing, scweam and scweam that it's all evil and should be banned. Why they think it's all evil is simple enough to understand. It's something largely done by men, in offices with money, and is therefore quite clearly immoral.

Attempting to ban the very thing which is the solution to the problem you've identified appears to me to be insane: but then I don't work for an NGO. Maybe this is just par for the course for them?



Adam Smith was right: Big business is not your friend

Mike Adams

An American maker of Internet routing gear is in deep public relations trouble. It has been accused of customizing its technology to help Communist China track members of a religious dissident group calling itself “Falun Gong.” It has resulted in a lawsuit being filed last month in federal court in California.

The lawsuit alleges that the American Internet routing company marketed its equipment by developing special training manuals to teach the Chinese government how to locate dissidents. The lawsuit also alleges that those training manuals used inflammatory language borrowed from the era of the Maoist Revolution. Finally, it contends that the company helped design the “Golden Shield” firewall that has actually been used to censor political and religious speech in China and to track opponents of the Chinese government.

The lawsuit is of great interest to me because the American Internet company named as a defendant in the lawsuit is none other than Cisco Systems. In fact, the suit also individually names Cisco President John Chambers. Readers of this column are probably familiar with Chambers because he has also been named in my last three columns. Those columns have all explored the firing of American political and religious dissident Frank Turek. That firing occurred after Turek’s religious and political speech was tracked by a manager at Cisco who promptly had him excluded from the workplace under the Cisco policy of inclusion.

Evidence of the company’s activities in China first became public in 2004, in the book "Losing the New China: A Story of American Commerce, Desire and Betrayal," by Ethan Gutmann. Since then, Cisco has disassociated itself from the marketing materials, stating that they were the work of a low-level employee. This argument is similar to the argument being made in conjunction with the Turek firing. In both cases, Cisco insists that individuals within the company are acting in a manner inconsistent with its deep commitment to tolerance of political and religious dissent.

The Falun Gong suit claims that additional Cisco marketing presentations prove that it promoted its technology to Communist China as being specifically capable of taking aim at dissident groups. The New York Times is reporting that, in one marketing slide, the goals of the Golden Shield are described as follows: To “douzheng evil Falun Gong cult and other hostile elements.” Douzheng is a Chinese term used specifically to describe the persecution of undesirable political and/or religious groups. It was widely used by the Communist Party in the Cultural Revolution led by Mao.

So the federal lawsuit essentially argues that Cisco developed and marketed the Golden Shield as a system that could a) censor Internet traffic flowing into China, and b) identify and monitor opponents of the Communist Chinese government. The suit also alleges that Falun Gong members were tracked by the Golden Shield and then apprehended.

What happened next isn’t exactly the same as what happened to Frank Turek – who was simply fired. In contrast, members of the Falun Gong were arrested and tortured with one member being beaten to death. As of this writing, another plaintiff who was arrested has since vanished and is presumed to be dead.

The lawsuit is a serious one because it states that other Cisco documents will show that it taught the Chinese Ministry of Public Security how to pursue dissidents effectively. This lawsuit was filed the very week that the Cisco Senior Director of Inclusion and Diversity Marilyn Nagel was denying that a managerial decision to monitor and track the religious beliefs of Frank Turek had nothing to do with a broader cultural problem at Cisco.




Hail Caesar: "Obama has added a war with Libya to the long list of wars the United States is involved in. He claimed authority under the unconstitutional War Powers Act to initiate hostilities. And then the sixty day limitation passed, and the war did not end. President Obama still does not seek congressional approval. ... The only thing left is for President Obama to appoint a horse to the Senate." [GWB sought and gained Congressional approval for the Iraq intervention]

Time to Ax Federal Jobs Programs: "Some policymakers are now looking at expanding job training and other federal employment programs. Even conservative House Budget Committee ChairmanPaul Ryan (R-Wis.) proposed to 'strengthen' these programs in his recent fiscal plan. Alas, the history of waste and failure in these programs argues for termination, not expansion."

Everyday Outlaws: Black marketeers and suburban farmers: "Everything is illegal these days. You know it. You’re lucky if you get through your first cup of coffee without committing a federal felony or three. Your state legislature churns out new offenses targeting you for improper swimming gear or an unlicensed lemonade stand. As we saw yesterday, mere countycrats may already be building a SWAT team to raid your unpermitted garden shed. That sucks, of course. But the silver lining is that when everything is a crime, everybody is an outlaw — and inevitably a gratifying minority of new-minted enemies of the state embrace their status, don their broad-brimmed hats, and become capital-O Outlaws."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

How heartwarming this is!

Communists were always good at "popular front" operations too

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has created a coalition of 17 parties, including liberal and secular groups, to form a common platform ahead of legislative elections, Egytrian state media said Wednesday.

The new political alliance, including the Brotherood's Freedom and Justice Party, the liberal Wafd party, the left-leaning Tagammu, and the newly formed Salafi (Muslim Fundamentalist) Noor party, say they joined forces to "channel their efforts... into building a state of law based on citizenship, equality and sovereignty of the people."

In a statement, the parties outlined their common principles including "freedom of belief and worship", freedom of expression and a free media, the independence of the judiciary, and "an economic system based on social justice."

The members also reportedly discussed the idea of a unified list in the coming legislative polls, but disparate sectarian goals and worldviews between the party's may render such a move unrealistic.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Egypt's interim junta which took power following president Hosni Mubarak's ouster on February 11, has scheduled parliamentary elections for September.

A September election is expected to boost Islamic factions, particularly the highly organized Muslim Brotherhood which was banned by Mubarak, but gained broad support through decades of charity work and community projects.

Shortly after Mubarak's ouster A Muslim Brotherhood leader told an Arab language newspaper that Egyptians “should prepare for war against Israel."



Why the Jobs Situation Is Worse Than It Looks

America now has more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression

The Great Recession has now earned the dubious right of being compared to the Great Depression. In the face of the most stimulative fiscal and monetary policies in our history, we have experienced the loss of over 7 million jobs, wiping out every job gained since the year 2000. From the moment the Obama administration came into office, there have been no net increases in full-time jobs, only in part-time jobs. This is contrary to all previous recessions. Employers are not recalling the workers they laid off from full-time employment.

The real job losses are greater than the estimate of 7.5 million. They are closer to 10.5 million, as 3 million people have stopped looking for work. Equally troublesome is the lower labor participation rate; some 5 million jobs have vanished from manufacturing, long America's greatest strength. Just think: Total payrolls today amount to 131 million, but this figure is lower than it was at the beginning of the year 2000, even though our population has grown by nearly 30 million. [Check out a roundup of political cartoons on the economy.]

The most recent statistics are unsettling and dismaying, despite the increase of 54,000 jobs in the May numbers. Nonagricultural full-time employment actually fell by 142,000, on top of the 291,000 decline the preceding month. Half of the new jobs created are in temporary help agencies, as firms resist hiring full-time workers.

Today, over 14 million people are unemployed. We now have more idle men and women than at any time since the Great Depression. Nearly seven people in the labor pool compete for every job opening. Hiring announcements have plunged to 10,248 in May, down from 59,648 in April. Hiring is now 17 percent lower than the lowest level in the 2001-02 downturn. One fifth of all men of prime working age are not getting up and going to work. Equally disturbing is that the number of people unemployed for six months or longer grew 361,000 to 6.2 million, increasing their share of the unemployed to 45.1 percent. We face the specter that long-term unemployment is becoming structural and not just cyclical, raising the risk that the jobless will lose their skills and become permanently unemployable. [See a slide show of the 10 best cities to find a job.]

Don't pay too much attention to the headline unemployment rate of 9.1 percent. It is scary enough, but it is a gloss on the reality. These numbers do not include the millions who have stopped looking for a job or who are working part time but would work full time if a position were available. And they count only those people who have actively applied for a job within the last four weeks.

Include those others and the real number is a nasty 16 percent. The 16 percent includes 8.5 million part-timers who want to work full time (which is double the historical norm) and those who have applied for a job within the last six months, including many of the long-term unemployed. And this 16 percent does not take into account the discouraged workers who have left the labor force. The fact is that the longer duration of six months is the more relevant testing period since the mean duration of unemployment is now 39.7 weeks, an increase from 37.1 weeks in February. [See a slide show of the 10 cities with highest real income.]

The inescapable bottom line is an unprecedented slack in the U.S. labor market. Labor's share of national income has fallen to the lowest level in modern history, down to 57.5 percent in the first quarter as compared to 59.8 percent when the so-called recovery began. This reflects not only the 7 million fewer workers but the fact that wages for part-time workers now average $19,000—less than half the median income.



The morality of capitalism was recognized long ago in Japan

One of the great questions of historical inquiry, which I have addressed in these pages and elsewhere, is exactly how the modern world came to be so different from what went before. Since about 1750 there has been a 16-fold increase in real wealth per capita on a global scale, something completely unprecedented that has transformed the lives of everyone on the planet much for the better.

In her latest work, Bourgeois Dignity: Why Economics Can’t Explain the Modern World, Deirdre McCloskey argues that the critical factor was a change in how productive activities such as trade were regarded. Instead of being seen as menial, morally disreputable, and lacking in honor, they came to be regarded as respectable, dignified, and above all virtuous. This gave trade, merchants, and manufacturers (those who worked with their hands) the crucial respect formerly given only to aristocrats, priests, and even peasants. I think McCloskey gives too much weight to this explanation, but the phenomenon she identifies was undoubtedly real and important.

McCloskey identifies the Dutch Republic as the place where the cultural shift started in the early seventeenth century. In the European case this is undoubtedly true. However it was not unique. Another later but independent shift was even more self-conscious and deliberate. It happened in one of the most fascinating of premodern societies, Tokugawa Japan. (McCloskey discusses the striking similarities between Europe and Japan at this time).

From 1467 to roughly 1570 Japan went through what became known as the Sengoku, or “warring states,” period of its history. The central authority was weak to nonexistent and warfare was almost constant. Between 1568 and 1603 there was the Momoyama, or unification, period in which Japan was unified by several astute leaders. The last of these, Tokugawa Ieyasu, defeated his rivals at the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600 and established the Tokugawa Shogunate, which would rule Japan until 1868. Tokugawa Japan was simultaneously deeply conservative and yet dynamic. The Tokugawa Shoguns, particularly after the 1630s, banned almost all contact with the outside world (the losing side at Sekigahara had generally favored greater links). Internally they sought to encourage and enforce a strict conservatism. One aspect of this was a firm insistence on traditional social hierarchies of esteem and status: emperor, shogun, daimyo, samurai, peasant, artisan, merchant. In general the countryside was seen as morally superior to the city. Another aspect was a revival of interest in Confucianism, particularly by the samurai, with development of an elaborate moral code and philosophy known as bushido—the way of the warrior.

The other side of Tokugawa Japan, however, was rapid economic development. Population grew swiftly after the 1690s, and this went along with dramatic urbanization: By the late eighteenth century the capital Edo (now Tokyo) and other centers such as Osaka and Kyoto were among the largest cities on the planet. There was also a great growth of internal trade and manufacture, as well as some trade with the outside world via a small colony of Dutch merchants on an artificial island in Nagasaki harbor. This also went along with interesting cultural developments. The merchant class in Japan did not simply concern themselves with business and physical pleasure, accepting their lowly status, as is often supposed. Instead they also explored Confucian and other ideas. In doing so they developed their own philosophy and culture, that of chonindo—the way of the townsfolk.

The essence of chonindo was developed and articulated by a series of thinkers from the later seventeenth century onward in the mercantile centers of Japan and particularly in Osaka. (Osaka had been the center of the Toyotomi clan, the rivals of the Tokugawa and the losing side at Sekigahara).

The crucial event in many ways was the founding of the Kaitokudo academy in Osaka in 1726 by Miyake Sekian and Nakai Shuan. This was a private educational institution, funded by the great merchant and trading houses of Osaka, for the exploration of Confucian ideals and in particular the establishment of the connection between productive work, trade, and virtue. The founders and teachers of the Kaitokudo argued that hard work, skill, craftsmanship, and physical labor were virtuous and forms of human excellence. More dramatically, given the traditional hostility toward it in much Confucian thought, they argued that profit was itself virtuous and that its pursuit was not only compatible with a moral life but moral in itself. The deeper argument was that there was no contradiction between the traditional virtues of restraint, loyalty, honor, and magnanimity and the life of labor and commerce. Instead all these virtues were both necessary for success in that kind of life and embodied in the successful living of such a life. What was wrong was dishonest and predatory behavior in any way of life.

Another aspect of the urban life of Tokugawa Japan that had a close relationship to all this was the notion of the “floating world” as represented in the artistic genre of Ukiyo-E, the well-known woodblock prints of urban life. In its physical sense the “floating world” referred to the pleasure and entertainment sectors of the new cities of Japan. As such it is often thought of as a cult of hedonism and something opposed to both bushido and chonindo. Sometimes this was true but more often there was a connection between the ideals of the floating world and those of chonindo. The common element was the belief, also found in Enlightenment Europe, that this physical world was good, not cursed, and that physical pleasure and well-being were admirable and worth seeking rather than barriers to virtue. The connection with chonindo was through the idea that in fact greater comfort and physical pleasures encouraged virtue (while discouraging predatory or vindictive behavior) and were the outcome of following the virtues of the merchant or townsman.

We may think that today the arguments of people like Adam Smith in Europe or the teachers of the Kaitokudo in Japan are unimportant because they are so obviously true and uncontroversial. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rather they are now as unfashionable and deprecated as when those Japanese merchants got together and set up their academy in Osaka almost 200 years ago. Because they faced such a hostile culture they were in many ways more explicit and systematic in their arguments than their European counterparts were. (Arguably they also had a more congenial intellectual tradition to work with in many ways). Today too many of the arguments for a free economy and society are made on the basis of efficiency. Such arguments may be true but they butter no parsnips when faced with a moral rejection of the idea of profit and commerce. The argument that a free economy is a moral economy is one that needs to be made and won more than ever.



Medical Consumers or Wards of the State?

Paul Krugman wants to know: “How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as ‘consumers’?”

Let’s concede for argument’s sake there is something unattractive about viewing patients as consumers. Krugman writes, “Medical care, after all, is an area in which crucial decisions—life and death decisions—must be made. Yet making such decisions intelligently requires a vast amount of specialized knowledge.”

All true, but not necessarily decisive in answering Krugman’s question—because if we reject the patient-as-consumer model, we must then ask: What’s the alternative?

I believe the answer is this: If the patient is not a consumer he or she will be a ward of the State or a government-empowered insurance company. If the choice is between consumer and ward of the State, consumer doesn’t look so bad after all.

To see what ward status means, ponder Krugman’s thoughts on the Independent Payment Advisory Board, Obamacare’s Medicare cost-cutting apparatus:

“About that advisory board: We have to do something about health care costs, which means that we have to find a way to start saying no. In particular, given continuing medical innovation, we can’t maintain a system in which Medicare essentially pays for anything a doctor recommends. . . .

“And the point is that choices must be made; one way or another, government spending on health care must be limited” (emphasis added).

Much of what Krugman says here is correct. Resources are finite. Choices must be made. No matter how medical care is paid for, spending will be limited—regardless of what demagogues imply. But under Krugman’s patient-not-as-consumer model (which is largely in effect today), government experts make all the important decisions. Bureaucrats will have a global budget for medical spending, and it will be their job to stick to that budget. They will not be the patients’ agents. Advocates of this scheme insist the quality of medical care will not be cut along with costs. They assure us they will prohibit only “unnecessary” and “wasteful” procedures. But how objective are those categories? And why should we trust unaccountable bureaucrats and “experts” to make the right decisions, as though there were one-size-fits-all answers in medicine?

The upshot is that anyone who has his or her medical bills paid by the taxpayers will ultimately be at the government’s mercy. If you’re not a consumer you’re a ward of the State.

But won’t private medical coverage also have restrictions? The difference is that if medical coverage were offered in a freed market—no privileges, no licenses, no protectionism—the environment would be competitive. When government is in charge competition disappears or is vastly constrained to the point where it hardly matters. In a competitive environment entrepreneurs seek to discover what services best satisfy their customers’ requirements. Note well: This environment includes nonprofit solutions, such as mutual-aid societies, which through “lodge practice” managed to provide decent medical coverage to people of modest means in earlier times (tinyurl.com/cjca68).

Competition is a discovery process (Hayek). Government is the habitat of bureaucrats who pretend they know it all already.

Krugman cautions, “[B]ear in mind that we’re not talking about limits on what health care you’re allowed to buy with your own (or your insurance company’s) money. We’re talking only about what will be paid for with taxpayers’ money.” This is disingenuous.

After being taxed all their lives, how many elderly people are in a position to forgo Medicare in favor of private insurance? Government creates dependence, then exploits that dependence to justify its power.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Background on the crisis in Greece -- where dishonesty is a way of life

Comment from Britain

Even on a stiflingly hot summer's day, the Athens underground is a pleasure. It is air-conditioned, with plasma screens to entertain passengers relaxing in cool, cavernous departure halls - and the trains even run on time.

There is another bonus for users of this state-of-the-art rapid transport system: it is, in effect, free for the five million people of the Greek capital.

With no barriers to prevent free entry or exit to this impressive tube network, the good citizens of Athens are instead asked to 'validate' their tickets at honesty machines before boarding. Few bother.

This is not surprising: fiddling on a Herculean scale — from the owner of the smallest shop to the most powerful figures in business and politics — has become as much a part of Greek life as ouzo and olives.

Indeed, as well as not paying for their metro tickets, the people of Greece barely paid a penny of the underground’s £1.5 billion cost — a ‘sweetener’ from Brussels (and, therefore, the UK taxpayer) to help the country put on an impressive 2004 Olympics free of the city’s notorious traffic jams.

The transport perks are not confined to the customers. Incredibly, the average salary on Greece’s railways is £60,000, which includes cleaners and track workers - treble the earnings of the average private sector employee here.

The overground rail network is as big a racket as the EU-funded underground. While its annual income is only £80 million from ticket sales, the wage bill is more than £500m a year — prompting one Greek politician to famously remark that it would be cheaper to put all the commuters into private taxis.

‘We have a railroad company which is bankrupt beyond comprehension,’ says Stefans Manos, a former Greek finance minister. ‘And yet, there isn’t a single private company in Greece with that kind of average pay.’

Significantly, since entering Europe as part of an ill-fated dream by politicians of creating a European super-state, the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled in a decade. At the same time, perks and fiddles reminiscent of Britain in the union-controlled 1970s have flourished.

Ridiculously, Greek pastry chefs, radio announcers, hairdressers and masseurs in steam baths are among more than 600 professions allowed to retire at 50 (with a state pension of 95 per cent of their last working year’s earnings) — on account of the ‘arduous and perilous’ nature of their work.

This week, it was reported that every family in Britain could face a £14,000 bill to pay for Greece’s self-inflicted financial crisis. Such fears were denied yesterday after Brussels voted a massive new £100bn rescue package which, it insisted, would not need a contribution from Britain. Even if this is true — and many British MPs have their doubts — we will still have to stump up £1billion to the bailout through the International Monetary Fund.

In return for this loan, European leaders want the Greeks’ free-spending ways to end immediately if the country is to be prevented from ‘infecting’ the world’s financial system. Naturally, the Greek people are not happy about this.

In Constitution Square this week, opposite the parliament, I witnessed thousands gathering to campaign against government cuts designed to save the country from bankruptcy.

After running battles with riot police, who used tear gas to disperse protesters, thousands are still camped out in the square ahead of a vote by Greek politicians next week on whether to accept Europe-imposed austerity measures.

Yet these protesters should direct their anger closer to home — to those Greeks who have for many years done their damndest to deny their country the dues they owe it.

Take a short trip on the metro to the city’s cooler northern suburbs, and you will find an enclave of staggering opulence.

Here, in the suburb of Kifissia, amid clean, tree-lined streets full of designer boutiques and car showrooms selling luxury marques such as Porsche and Ferrari, live some of the richest men and women in the world.

With its streets paved with marble, and dotted with charming parks and cafes, this suburb is home to shipping tycoons such as Spiros Latsis, a billionaire and friend of Prince Charles, as well as countless other wealthy industrialists and politicians.

One of the reasons they are so rich is that rather than paying millions in tax to the Greek state, as they rightfully should, many of these residents are living entirely tax-free.

Along street after street of opulent mansions and villas, surrounded by high walls and with their own pools, most of the millionaires living here are, officially, virtually paupers.

How so? Simple: they are allowed to state their own earnings for tax purposes, figures which are rarely challenged. And rich Greeks take full advantage.

Astonishingly, only 5,000 people in a country of 12 million admit to earning more than £90,000 a year — a salary that would not be enough to buy a garden shed in Kifissia.

Yet studies have shown that more than 60,000 Greek homes each have investments worth more than £1m, let alone unknown quantities in overseas banks, prompting one economist to describe Greece as a ‘poor country full of rich people’.

Manipulating a corrupt tax system, many of the residents simply say that they earn below the basic tax threshold of around £10,000 a year, even though they own boats, second homes on Greek islands and properties overseas.

And, should the taxman rumble this common ruse, it can be dealt with using a ‘fakelaki’ — an envelope stuffed with cash. There is even a semi-official rate for bribes: passing a false tax return requires a payment of up to 10,000 euros (the average Greek family is reckoned to pay out £2,000 a year in fakelaki.)

Even more incredibly, Greek shipping magnates — the king of kings among the wealthy of Kifissia — are automatically exempt from tax, supposedly on account of the great benefits they bring the country. Yet the shipyards are empty; once employing 15,000, they now have less than 500 to service the once-mighty Greek shipping lines which, like the rest of the country, are in terminal decline.

With Greek President George Papandreou calling for a crackdown on these tax dodgers — who are believed to cost the economy as much as £40bn a year — he is now resorting to bizarre means to identify the cheats. After issuing warnings last year, government officials say he is set to deploy helicopter snoopers, along with scrutiny of Google Earth satellite pictures, to show who has a swimming pool in the northern suburbs — an indicator, officials say, of the owner’s wealth.

Officially, just over 300 Kifissia residents admitted to having a pool. The true figure is believed to be 20,000. There is even a boom in sales of tarpaulins to cover pools and make them invisible to the aerial tax inspectors.

‘The most popular and effective measure used by owners is to camouflage their pool with a khaki military mesh to make it look like natural undergrowth,’ says Vasilis Logothetis, director of a major swimming pool construction company. ‘That way, neither helicopters nor Google Earth can spot them.’

But faced with the threat of a crackdown, money is now pouring out of the country into overseas tax havens such as Liechtenstein, the Bahamas and Cyprus. ‘Other popular alternatives include setting up offshore companies in Cyprus or the British Virgin Islands, or the purchase of real estate abroad,’ says one doctor, who declares an income of less than £90,000 yet earns five times that amount.

There has also been a boom in London property purchases by Athens-based Greeks in an attempt to hide their true worth from their domestic tax authorities. ‘These anti-tax evasion measures by the government force us to resort to even more detailed tax evasion ploys,’ admits Petros Iliopoulos, a civil engineer.

‘We will spare no effort to collect what is due to the state,’ said Evangelos Venizelos, the new Greek finance minister of the socialist ruling party. ‘We promise to draft and apply a new and honest tax system, one that has been needed for decades, so that taxes are duly paid by those who should pay.’

Yet, already, it is too late. Greece is effectively bust — relying on EU cash from richer northern European countries, but this has been the case ever since the country finally joined the euro in 2001.

Two years earlier, the country was barred from entering because it did not meet the financial criteria. No matter: the Greeks simply cooked the books. Two years later, having falsely claimed to have met standards relating to manufacturing and industrial production and low inflation, the Greeks were allowed in. Funds poured into the country from across Europe and the Greeks started spending like there was no tomorrow.

Money flowed into all areas of public life. As a result, for example, the Greek school system is now an over-staffed shambles, employing four times more teachers per pupil than Finland, the country with the highest-rated education system in Europe. ‘But we still have to pay for tutors for our two children,’ says Helena, an Athens mother. ‘The teachers are hopeless — they seem to spend their time off sick.’

Although Brussels has now agreed to provide the next stage of its debt payment programme to safeguard the count ry’s immediate economic future, the Greek media still carries ominous warnings that the military may be forced to step in should the country’s foray into Europe end in ignominy, bankruptcy and rising violence.

For now, the crisis has simply been delayed. With European taxpayers facing the prospect of saving Greece from bankruptcy for the second year in a row, some say even the £100bn on offer will pay off only the interest on the country’s debts — meaning it will be broke again within two years.

Meanwhile, there are doom-laden warnings that the collapse of the Greek economy could be the catalyst for another global recession.

Perhaps if the Greeks themselves had shown more willingness to tighten their belts and pay taxes due to the state, voters across Europe might not now be feeling such anger towards them.

But having strolled the streets of Kifissia, and watched the Greek hordes stream past the honesty boxes on the underground, it does not take a degree in European economics to know when somebody is taking advantage — at our expense.



The Reincarceration of Conrad Black

By Mark Steyn

I am overseas at the moment and have just caught up on the coverage of Judge Amy St Eve’s decision yesterday to send my old boss (and now NRO colleague) Conrad Black back to jail. Following the Supreme Court’s overturning of the “honest services” basis of his conviction, Conrad was released from prison in Florida, after serving two years, to await re-sentencing. Given that he was, in effect, improperly convicted on the majority of charges, a civilized and humane justice system would have concluded that it was both absurd and vindictive to return him to his cell for the one shred of the United States Government’s case that has not been tossed out along the way in Conrad’s seven year battle.

But the Department of Justice is not civilized and humane. As I wrote here:
The federal justice system is a bit like one of those unmanned drones President Obama is so fond of using on the unfortunate villagers of Waziristan. Once it’s locked on to you and your coordinates are in the system, it’s hard to get it called off. Three years ago, during his trial in Chicago, I suggested to the defendant he’d be better off saving his gazillions in legal fees and instead climbing under the tarp in the bed of my truck and letting me drive him over the minimally enforced Pittsburg-La Patrie border crossing to Quebec and thence by fishing boat to a remote landing strip on Miquelon where a waiting plane could spirit him somewhere beyond the reach of the U.S. Attorney. Estimated cost: about a thousandth of what he’d spent on lawyers to date. P’shaw, scoffed Conrad, or ejaculations to that effect. He was not a fugitive but an innocent man, and eventually he would be vindicated by the justice system of this great republic.

But that’s not possible – because, with a system that relies on multiple charges and an ability to pressure everybody else in the case to switch sides, you can win (as Conrad did) nineteen-twentieths of the battles and still lose the war. He’s a wealthy businessman, and nobody has any sympathy for those. But it’s even worse if you’re a nobody. A New Hampshire neighbor of mine had the misfortune to attract the attention of federal prosecutors for one of those white-collar “crimes” no one can explain in English. The jury acquitted him in a couple of hours. Great news! The system worked! Not really. By then, the feds had spent a half-decade demolishing his life, exhausting his savings, wrecking his marriage, and driving him to attempt suicide. He’s not a big scary businessman like Conrad, just a small-town nobody. And he’ll never get his life back. Because, regardless of the verdict, the process is the punishment – which is the hallmark of unjust justice systems around the world.

As to white-collar crime, what about the one type of white-collar crime that goes entirely unpunished? For an accounting fraud of $567 million, Enron’s executives went to jail, and its head guy died there. For an accounting fraud ten times that size, the two Democrat hacks who headed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Franklin Raines and Jamie Gorelick, walked away with a combined taxpayer-funded payout of $116.4 million. Fannie and Freddie are two of the largest businesses in America, but they’re exempt from SEC disclosure rules and Sarbanes-Oxley “corporate governance” burdens, and so in 2008, unlike Enron, WorldCom or any of the other reviled private-sector bogeymen, they came close to taking down the entire global economy. Yes, yes, I know two wrongs don’t make a right (unless you’re Jamie Gorelick), but what then is the point of the SEC?

Judge St Eve’s decision is appalling. In my weekend column, I write about “nation-building” at home and abroad. Federal justice shares with those subjects what is the defining characteristic of US Government in the early 21st century – grotesque excess and an utter lack of proportion.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Why Obama Will Likely Lose the 2012 Presidential Election

By Karl Rove

President Barack Obama is likely to be defeated in 2012. The reason is that he faces four serious threats. The economy is very weak and unlikely to experience a robust recovery by Election Day. Key voter groups have soured on him. He's defending unpopular policies. And he's made bad strategic decisions.

Let's start with the economy. Unemployment is at 9.1%, with almost 14 million Americans out of work. Nearly half the jobless have been without work for more than six months. Mr. Obama promised much better, declaring that his February 2009 stimulus would cause unemployment to peak at 8% by the end of summer 2009 and drop to roughly 6.8% today.

After boasting in June 2010 that "Our economy . . . is now growing at a good clip," he laughingly admitted last week, "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected." The humor will be lost on most. In Wednesday's Bloomberg poll, Americans believe they are worse off than when Mr. Obama took office by a 44% to 34% margin.

The last president re-elected with unemployment over 7.2% was FDR in 1936. Ronald Reagan overcame 7.2% unemployment because the rate was dropping dramatically (it had been over 10%) as the economy grew very rapidly in 1983 and 1984. Today, in contrast, the Federal Reserve says growth will be less than 3% this year and less than 3.8% next year, with unemployment between 7.8% and 8.2% by Election Day.

Mr. Obama also has problems with his base. For example, Jewish voters are upset with his policy toward Israel, and left-wing bloggers at last week's NetRoots conference were angry over Mr. Obama's failure to deliver a leftist utopia. Weak Jewish support could significantly narrow Mr. Obama's margin in states like Florida, while a disappointed left could deprive him of the volunteers so critical to his success in 2008.

Mr. Obama's standing has declined among other, larger groups. Gallup reported his job approval rating Tuesday at 45%, down from 67% at his inaugural. Among the groups showing a larger-than-average decline since 2009 are whites (down 25 points); older voters (down 24); independents and college graduates (both down 23), those with a high-school education or less, men, and Southerners (all down 22); women (down 21 points); married couples and those making $2,000-$4,000 a month (down 20).

This all points to severe trouble in suburbs and midsized cities in states likes Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Nevada.



Logic deserts the Left when it comes to Wal-Mart

Opining in today’s New York Times, history professor Nelson Lichtenstein asserts that Wal-Mart uses an “authoritarian style, by which executives pressure store-level management to squeeze more and more from millions of clerks, stockers and lower-tier managers.” Then he scolds Wal-Mart for being so bigoted that it erects “obstacles to women’s advancement.”

This tale is highly improbable. A company that squeezes maximum possible profits from its workers does not refuse to promote women simply because of their sex.

Such refusals would leave money on the table by keeping many employees in lower-rank positions even though those employees would add more to the company’s bottom line by being promoted to higher-rank positions. Conversely, a company that indulges its taste for bigotry is not a company intent on squeezing as much profit as possible from its employees.

If Ms. Jones can add thousands of dollars to Wal-Mart’s annual profits by working as a manager, rather than hundreds of dollars by working as a cashier, squeezing “more and more” from her requires that Wal-Mart promote her to manager.

It’s simply unbelievable that a company with Wal-Mart’s record of consistently wringing profits from razor-thin retail margins intentionally – or even negligently – wastes the talents of large numbers of its employees by using them in ways that do not add maximum value to Wal-Mart’s bottom line.



My Standard Question for Liberals/Progressives

Arnold Kling

A commenter suggested to me that Charles Sable does not fit my stereotype of liberals believing that government is the magic solution for human imperfection. But I picked out his paper on health care, and I found exactly that. He says that health care providers need to be able to improve by learning from and correcting mistakes. He then proceeds to offer legislation to force that.

My question for Sable is this: "If you know a better way to run health care organizations, why don't you start a health care organization?"

I would ask this question generically. If a liberal/progressive proposal is supposed to do X, why don't you start a private entity to do X?

There are examples where this question has a standard answer. For example, "why don't you start a private entity to discourage the use of carbon fuels?" The answer might be the standard externality argument that the private entity will not be able to overcome individual self-interest, so that government coercion is required.

But in the case of health care quality, I am not sure that there is a reasonable answer. If health care providers are doing a bad job, what stops you from implementing a better model and taking over the market? Are consumers too stupid to know the difference between providers who make lots of unnecessary mistakes and providers who don't? If they are so stupid as consumers, why do you expect them to be smart as voters?

The way I see it, the main difference between a business entrepreneurship and policy entrepreneurship is that if things do not work out as planned, the policy entrepreneur is insulated from the adverse consequences. For me, that difference does not work in favor policy entrepreneurship.



How the Democrats Nearly Destroyed the Economy

There is history -- a chronicle of human events -- and then there is perceived history. So often, the two are wildly at odds.

In 1963, a popular Democratic president was assassinated by a Marxist named Oswald, who had actually defected to the Soviet Union and returned to the U.S. with a Soviet wife, was an active member of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, and had attempted to assassinate a right-wing general named Edwin Walker earlier in the year.

Yet those who write history found these facts inconvenient. They created a different history in which the "atmosphere of hate" in the southern city of Dallas, Texas, led to the terrible political violence. In other words, it was political conservatism that led to John F. Kennedy's assassination. This perceived history was recycled as recently as the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. ABC's Christiane Amanpour, interviewing Jean Kennedy Smith, noted that the Kennedy assassination was "eerily relevant" and asked Kennedy to evaluate the "political atmosphere" in the country today.

Starting just a few years after the Kennedy assassination, American liberals began to consider anti-communism a kind of mental disorder. Hostility to communism was akin to racism, sexism and other character flaws. Reagan's description of the Soviet Union as an "evil empire" cemented liberal suspicions that Reagan was a dangerous buffoon. Yet starting in 1989, when the Berlin Wall fell, liberals began to find their anti-anti-communism embarrassing. And so they created a perceived history -- one in which the Cold War was a time of consensus, a time when, as former Sen. Bill Bradley put it, "We knew where we stood on foreign policy."

More recently we've witnessed the creation of new historical narrative about the financial crisis of 2008. The perceived history, eagerly peddled by liberals and Democrats, is that the crash of 2008 was the result of Wall Street greed. It was unregulated capitalism that brought us to the brink of financial meltdown, the Democrats insisted. And they codified their manufactured history in a law, the Dodd-Frank Act, that completely avoided the true problem.

It's both surprising and gratifying, therefore, to report that a great revisionist history has just been published by none other than a New York Times reporter, Gretchen Morgenson, and a financial analyst, Joshua Rosner.

In "Reckless Endangerment," Morgenson and Rosner offer considerable censure for reckless bankers, lax rating agencies, captured regulators and unscrupulous businessmen. But the greatest responsibility for the collapse of the housing market and the near "Armageddon" of the American economy belongs to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and to the politicians who created and protected them. With a couple of prominent exceptions, the politicians were Democrats claiming to do good for the poor. Along the way, they enriched themselves and their friends, stuffed their campaign coffers, and resisted all attempts to enforce market discipline. When the inevitable collapse arrived, the entire economy suffered, but no one more than the poor.

Jim Johnson, adviser to Walter Mondale and John Kerry, amassed a personal fortune estimated at $100 million during his nine years as CEO of Fannie Mae. "Under Johnson," Morgenson and Rosner write, "Fannie Mae led the way in encouraging loose lending practices among the banks whose loans the company bought. A Pied Piper of the financial sector, Johnson led both the private and public sectors down a path that led directly to the credit crisis of 2008."

Fannie Mae lied about its profits, intimidated adversaries, bought off members of Congress with lavish contributions, hired (and thereby co-opted) academics, purchased political ads (through its foundation) and stacked congressional hearings with friendly bankers, community activists and advocacy groups (including ACORN). Fannie Mae also hired the friends and relations of key members of Congress (including Rep. Barney Frank's partner).

"Reckless Endangerment" includes the Clinton administration's contribution to the home-ownership catastrophe. Clinton had claimed that dramatically increasing homeownership would boost the economy, instead "in just a few short years, all of the venerable rules governing the relationship between borrower and lender went out the window, starting with ... the requirement that a borrower put down a substantial amount of cash in a property, verify his income, and demonstrate an ability to service his debts."

"Reckless Endangerment" utterly deflates the perceived history of the 2008 crash. Yes, there was greed -- when is there not? But it was government distortions of markets -- not "unregulated capitalism" -- that led the economy to disaster.



Long-form birth certificate an amateur forgery

Gary Poyssick, an early employee of software giant Adobe System Inc., continues to maintain there is something "fishy" about the Obama long-form birth certificate released by the White House.

"What the White House released is not a simple scan," Poyssick told WND. "Something digital came between the paper and the glass."

Poyssick was at the San Jose-based tech company when it counted no more than 14 employees, and he continues to advise and write on Adobe software products. Poyssick, who today devotes his energies to running The Online Fisherman in Tampa, Fla., has written more than 50 titles about Adobe software, the printing industry, coding and programming, website development and workflow management.

His initial reaction was to declare the birth certificate an outright forgery. "I could have done a much better replica myself, if the president had asked," Poyssick told The Political Sandbox blog when the birth certificate first appeared and he opened the document in Adobe Illustrator. "The guy that did this is a bimbo in that he forgot to 'flatten' his works to soften the background edges so the fake letters blended, softly into the green paper.

Observing that the birth certificate document had multiple layers when opened in Adobe Illustrator, Poyssick was amazed the White House had released an electronic PDF file that had not been "flattened" so as to remove all evidence that it had been modified.




MA: New system not cutting health costs: "Early results show that putting doctors and hospitals on a budget — a payment method promoted as a way to curb health costs — has not saved money in Massachusetts, Attorney General Martha Coakley concluded in a report released yesterday. ... The yearlong review of what six large Massachusetts insurers paid providers in 2009 found that doctors working under the new 'global payment' system — which puts them on a per-patient monthly budget — generally did not cost less than doctors paid the standard way."

VT: Justices ponder limits of digital privacy: "The Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution protects citizens from unwarranted searches and seizures of their 'persons, papers, houses and effects,' but it doesn’t mention computers, iPads, smartphones, and other electronic devices. Vermont’s Supreme Court was faced yesterday with the challenge of adapting the federal and state constitutions to the digital age in an electronic privacy case. The state complained that a lower court judge placed too many restrictions on a search warrant Burlington police got for a man’s computer and other devices as they investigated allegations of identity theft. It’s a case being watched closely by national groups devoted to studying how the law should be applied in cyberspace."

N.J. Slashes Public-Worker Benefits: "New Jersey's public workers will have to pay more for health-care benefits and will receive smaller pensions under a bill that won final approval in the state Legislature, with the support of nearly a third of Democratic lawmakers. Gov. Chris Christie, who is expected to sign the bill Monday, said the second round of cuts under his watch will bring sufficient change to the issue that has roiled private-sector workers who saw their jobs eliminated and salaries and benefits slashed during the recession. "We've accomplished on pensions and benefits what we needed to and wanted to accomplish," Mr. Christie said ..."

"Mainstream" churches promoting Islam: "Dozens of churches, from Park Hill Congregational in Denver to Hillview United Methodist in Boise, Idaho, and First United Lutheran in San Francisco to St. Elizabeth's Episcopal Church in Honolulu, are planning to send "a message both here at home and to the Arab and Muslim world about our respect for Islam" with a time to read the Quran during worship this Sunday. The aim of the program, which is promoted by social activists behind the Faith Shared website, is to counter the message from Islamic activists who say opposition to their religion is the product of what they call a cottage industry of hate. So the Interfaith Alliance and Human Rights First is calling on Christian clergy to read portions of the Quran during their services Sunday. [I'm guessing that none of them had to go out and buy a copy of the Koran for the occasion]

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Obama gives America its second Vietnam

Vietnam was lost in Washington DC. Looks the same for Afghanistan. In Vietnam's case they talked about handing over to local forces too

US President Barack Obama used a prime-time address to the nation from the White House today to confirm the withdrawal of about 10,000 troops from Afghanistan this year. Mr Obama said a further 23,000 troops would be brought back to America by mid-2012 - ending the US military "surge" in the war-torn nation.

"After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support," he said. "By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.

"We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al-Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11."

The US currently has about 100,000 troops in Afghanistan, so even after all of the surge troops leave, the military will still have nearly 70,000 forces in the country.

Responding to Mr Obama's address, House Speaker John Boehner said he was pleased the president recognised that success in Afghanistan was paramount.

However, he cautioned, "It is my hope that the president will continue to listen to our commanders on the ground as we move forward. Congress will hold the administration accountable for ensuring that the pace and scope of the drawdown does not undermine the progress we've made thus far".

General David Petraeus and top Pentagon officials had asked for a slower drawdown through the (northern) summer of 2012 to allow them to solidify gains in southern Afghanistan and to mount counter-insurgency operations in eastern districts.

Senator John McCain said Mr Obama's decision, communicated to senior national security officials yesterday represented an "unnecessary risk" and said Gen Petraeus and Defence Secretary Robert Gates had recommended a "more modest withdrawal".



Tiny tyrannies matter too

Libertarian minds reel when considering the loss of liberty here in the United States. There is the ever-growing intrusion of the federal government into the daily lives of men and women, revealing a gross disregard for constitutional guarantees.

We’ve been inundated with examples recently. The effect of Supreme Court decisions and FBI directives can lead us to anger or bring a chilling unease as we wonder what might be next.

It’s easy to focus on what comes out of Washington. Decisions made on the national level affect everyone, the 300 million-plus U.S. citizens as well as the rest of the world. The federal government is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, at home and abroad. Not only are we being spied upon in violation of the Constitution, but the value of our money and our ability to save and invest are being destroyed by fiscal policy while the government’s foreign policy is one of destruction to people, places, and things. It makes enemies; it wages war and we are not any safer.

We also need to pay attention to what happens locally. The news out of Iowa about renters needing to provide apartment keys to the fire department in Cedar Falls is one case in point.

Another example comes from Dallas, Texas, where the city enacted an ordinance limiting window signs for retail businesses to 15 percent of the window area and no sign may be in the upper two-thirds of a window. The statute also prohibits signs that cover more than 25 percent of a building façade.

The Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit on behalf of a few businesses, but the city played hardball and threatened those retailers with fines of $300,000 if they didn’t drop the suit. The word extortion definitely comes to mind.

Cities such as Dallas and Cedar Falls are not unique in their intrusiveness. Even small townships in southeastern Pennsylvania have ordinances that interfere with personal rights.

Chadds Ford Township won’t allow a motorcycle dealership to park its trucks with company name in front of the shop because supervisors deem that as signage in excess of what ordinances allow.

Even changing the name on a sign requires approval from the Zoning Hearing Board and if the business is in the historic district, it needs approval from the Historic and Architectural Review Board. HARBs also tell homeowners in historic districts what colors they may use to paint their shutters. Any municipality with a HARB is over-regulated.

No business has asked for flashing neon signs or to light up the night sky with their names. They just want to let people know who they are, what they have to offer, and when they’re open.

The aversion to signs is ridiculous. One supervisor always looks for signs tacked to utility poles as he drives around the township. One Easter Sunday he was running around with a stepladder, climbing up and down, removing those nasty signs. Most were from small businesses trying to get their names out as cheaply as possible. It seems an odd way to spend Easter Morning.

When the economy turned upside down, township supervisors finally lightened up a little. Since 2009, some businesses may have a small, A-frame sign in front of their stores during business hours as long as the signs meet certain size specifications, they are taken in at night, and the owner pays a fee of $125.

It’s not just a matter of an anti-business climate. It’s a disregard for the Constitution.

Several years ago, Chadds Ford supervisors enacted a noise ordinance that contains a clause prohibiting congregating at the township building unless there is an authorized public event there. When the township solicitor told the supervisors’ chairman — the aforementioned sign-remover — that such a clause could be challenged as a violation of the First Amendment guarantee of free assembly, the chairman said he didn’t care. The clause remains on the books.

Property rights don’t matter either. These same supervisors decided that the owner of a five-acre property. for example, doesn’t necessarily have five acres if he wants to subdivide. Steep slopes and stream areas must be removed from the calculations when determining lot sizes for subdivision. So, in a zoning district with a two-acre minimum lot size, a five-acre property with 1.1 acres of steep slopes, wetlands and other net outs can’t be subdivided because the total net out brings the lot size down to less than four acres. Landowners of larger properties lose even more value. Owners must still pay taxes on the full acreage though.

Chadds Ford isn’t alone in its intrusiveness. Neighboring Birmingham Township has an ordinance regulating the size of leaves on a tree in a residential yard, and supervisors can force a tree removed if it hasn’t grown the way it supposed to grow within its first year.

Don’t even think about putting up a fence around a flower garden without permission and if you want to erect a swing set in your own yard for your own kids you’ll probably have to go to the zoning board.

Overregulation of society comes from local government as well as state and federal. As one area resident said, it’s “the tyranny of tiny rules and regulations.”

A year later that same resident became a supervisor who, like all other supervisors, now works to uphold all township ordinances, even the tiny tyrannical ones.

One of the ironies is that the 1777 Battle of Brandywine was fought in Birmingham and Chadds Ford townships. Boards of supervisors and members of HARBs fight to keep paint colors, building design, and open space true to that time period, yet they ignore what the war was all about — freedom from government intrusion.

So, while we keep an eye on Capitol Hill, we also need to keep an eye on city and township halls — and we need to fight all of them when they intrude on our liberty.



National security experts blast attorney general’s claim that lawyers are America’s ‘most effective terror-fighting weapon’

How did such a dummy get such a senior job? The color of his skin would seem the only explanation

Centrist and right-of-center national security experts reacted with contempt to Attorney General Eric Holder’s claim at a legal convention that the courts are the nation’s “most effective terror-fighting weapon.”

“That’s utter nonsense … it is simply lunatic,” said Ralph Peters, military analyst, author and former soldier. In the war against the jihadis, he said, the courts “have been totally ineffective when they’re not outright destructive.”

“He’s unconsciously shilling for his own profession,” said Michael Rubin, a Middle East expert at the American Enterprise Institute. “Holder, like many ambitious bureaucrats, wants to build a bureaucratic empire … [and] by doing so, he will get Americans killed.”

On Sunday, Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell added his voice to the criticism. “The attorney general said the other night our biggest weapon in the war on terror was the U.S. civilian court system,” he said on CBS’ Face The Nation. “ I don’t know what planet he’s living on.”

Holder’s declaration came in a Thursday speech to hundreds of progressive lawyers, advocates, judges and students gathered at the American Constitution Society’s annual gala. “I know that – in distant countries, and within our own borders – there are people intent on, and actively plotting to, kill Americans,” he told his legal peers in the enthusiastic audience. “Victory and security will not come easily, and they won’t come at all if we adhere to a rigid ideology, adopt a narrow methodology, or abandon our most effective terror-fighting weapon – our Article III [civil] court system,” he declared to much applause.

Holder delivered his speech several months after Congress and public opinion defeated his two-year political campaigns to transfer five captured Al Qaeda leaders from the military’s legal commissions to the legal profession’s civilian courts, and to close the military’s Guantanamo Bay terrorist detention facility.

At the lawyers’ convention, Holder called for an advocacy campaign that would give civil lawyers the lead role in the struggle against the jihadis. “We cannot – and we must not – allow the public safety concerns that all Americans share to divide us … we must ensure that the rule of law … must be recognized as the foundation for our continued security,” he said.

“Achieving this goal is our collective responsibility. And it must become our common cause,” he declared to his fellow lawyers.




Welfare before the welfare state: "Many people think life without the welfare state would be chaos. In their minds, nobody would help support the less fortunate, and there would be riots in the streets. Little do they know that people found innovative ways of supporting each other before the welfare state existed. One of the most important of these ways was the mutual-aid society"

There’s no “average” cancer patient: "On June 28, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will hold a hearing to decide the fate of Avastin, a drug taken by thousands of women fighting late-stage breast cancer. Many of these women have pleaded for continued access to the drug, which they consider a matter of life and death. But this case is really about what will guide decisions on treatment options — the best judgment of doctors and their patients, or the policy preferences of the FDA."

Medicare Part D not broke, don’t fix it: "Only in Washington could you get traction with a saying like, 'if it ain't broke, fix it anyway.' But sure enough, in his new deficit plan, President Barack Obama has proposed imposing $49 billion worth of Medicaid-style cost controls on a health care success story -- the landmark 2003 Medicare Part D prescription drug program. While deficit reduction is a worthy goal, this particular idea is not only bad; it won't work. There's ample evidence that it would not only increase costs, rather than reduce them, but also reduce access to life-enhancing and life-saving drugs."

What you don’t know can hurt you: "The Soviet Union enacted an infamous law in 1922 that criminalized 'hooliganism.' The crime was in the eye of the beholder, the beholder of consequence being the Soviet secret police. Because it was impossible for dissidents to know in advance whether they were violating this prohibition, they were always subject to arrest and imprisonment, all ostensibly according to law. In the United States, we have legal safeguards against Soviet-style social controls, not least of which is the judicial branch’s ability to nullify laws so vague that they violate the right to due process. Yet far too many federal laws leave citizens unsure about the line between legal and illegal conduct, punishing incorrect guesses with imprisonment."

CBO sees government benefits swamping US economy: "The United States will find little relief from its bleak long-term fiscal outlook so long as growing federal healthcare and retirement programs gobble up more and more of the country's resources, said a new economic report issued on Wednesday."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Will technology shift back towards the old?

Some interesting theories by historian Martin Hutchinson

A Wall Street Journal article last weekend suggested that discomfort with novel applications of technology such as Twitter was a function of age. By refusing to sign on to Facebook or buy the latest expensive gadget one was merely confessing to being old (the author claimed to be 33, and seemed worried about the symptoms of aging – he should get out of Manhattan more!) But it set me to wondering: has new technology always been unattractive for older people, or was there a period in which they truly benefited from it? And if there was such a period, has it disappeared forever, or will we see a return to it as the population ages?

Without going back to ancient history, we can imagine that in the early stages of the Industrial revolution technology was not kind to the old. A Newcomen or Boulton and Watt steam engine, for example, required huge amounts of coal shoveled into it to make it function and was itself an enormously heavy piece of machinery – thus those who had passed their first peak of fitness would have found it difficult either to operate or to repair. Likewise the early factories with belt-driven machinery powered by gigantic steam engines had a tendency to catch the unwary and sever their limbs – the quick reaction speeds of youth were a definite advantage in surviving such places, and older workers would frequently exhibit disfiguring industrial injuries. Then there’s the notorious Rainhill Trials railway accident of 1830, in which the unfit, overweight 60-year-old William Huskisson, standing on a railway line in discussion with the Duke of Wellington about the formation of the Duke’s new government, was unable to get out of the way of the onrushing “Rocket” engine and so was crushed to death. With heavy, awkward machinery and few safety features, the old were at a natural disadvantage in the early years of industrialization.

The inventors of early industrial machinery were themselves towards the youthful side of middle age, even though they had to establish themselves financially before making their leaps forward. Newcomen was 46 when he developed his engine; Watt developed his first working model at 30, Arkwright patented his water frame at 36, Trevithick invented the locomotive at 32 and while Stephenson was 49 when he built “Rocket” his first successful engine was developed at 33. Thus early industrial machinery was developed by men in full physical vigor, and was poorly adapted to the older and more sedentary such as the unfortunate Huskisson.

As the industrial revolution developed, its products became less age-unfriendly as they became lighter. Furthermore, the age of their inventors tended to increase. Joseph Swan was 50 when he patented the electric light bulb, after which even the feeble and elderly with poor eyesight were able to live full lives in the evenings. Karl Benz was only 41 when he developed the automobile, and the early models remained age-hostile, since they had to be cranked by hand to start them, an operation impossible for the elderly, feeble and arthritic. The 35-year old Charles Kettering invented the self-starter, a major advance, but changing gears still required a level of coordination and strength that old people generally lacked. The two great breakthroughs were made by the General Motors engineer Earl Thompson, who brought out the synchromesh gearbox in 1928, when he was 36 years old and the first full automatic transmission in 1939, when he was 47 – but the inventions were paid for within a huge corporate structure under the direction of GM’s legendary CEO Alfred P. Sloan, 55 in 1928 and 66 in 1939; hence easily old enough to reap the benefit of both inventions (though doubtless his chauffeurs were younger!)

By 1960, the world was well designed for the elderly. Cars were large, easy to get in and out of, and equipped with soft suspensions, fully automatic transmissions and air conditioning. Homes were fully electric, with labor saving devices that not only reduced the work of women but also made them easy to live in for the elderly, who no longer had to stoke coal fires but could simply turn on the heating, while cookery had equally become a matter of twiddling a few dials. On the other hand, almost all machinery was electromechanical, thus easily comprehensible to its users and repairable by the millions of handymen and repair shops who found active blue-collar employment without the need for specialized training or expensive electronic machinery. Shopping no longer needed to be carried home each day; instead the supermarkets had car parks, and if necessary attendants who would help you load the car with the weekly groceries.

While diabetes, heart attacks and cancer still carried off many people in middle age, antibiotics at least prevented truly healthy individuals from succumbing to infections after an accident, or to pneumonia. At the same time, youth culture was confined to the young, while popular entertainment and marketing was geared to the late middle aged, who had accumulated seniority in their workplaces and hence had most of the money. Nobody harassed the aging and overweight with gymnasia, or with any unwanted exercise beyond the occasional round of golf. Finally, mild inflation, buoyant stock markets and high dividends rewarded well-established savers and homeowners, while final-salary pensions rewarded those who had become middle-aged early in life, and remained for several decades with the same employer.

Needless to say, this geriatric Nirvana has not lasted. Modern gadgets, so unlike the comforting electric cooker or room air conditioner, have minute control systems that are impossible for aged arthritic digits to manipulate. Modern televisions’ hundreds of channels become useless once the remote control (itself incomprehensible) has been lost. The replacement of the PC first by the notebook and now by the tablet and the cellphone is a retrograde step as far as the old are concerned – on a BlackBerry they can neither read the screen nor manipulate the keys accurately. Modern gadgets are also subject to incomprehensible but devastating failures at unexpected times, and need to be replaced more or less yearly -- far, far from the standards of a 1950s Maytag washing machine, which if bought in middle age would generally see you out.

The Internet itself took some getting used to for the old, but Facebook and Twitter require entirely new means of communication, involving new social norms with which the old are necessarily unfamiliar. Even though scientific progress has if anything slowed in the last fifty years, it has been made more difficult and unpleasant for the old to adapt to. Yes, medical advances have been superb, and one must always be grateful for them, but even in this field old people may perhaps be less than fully grateful to the inventor of colonoscopy, Dr. Bergein Overholt, a 28-year-old sadist when he did his most critical work. .

One huge difference between modern technological advances and those of the mid-20th century is the age of the inventors. Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and the other computer geeks were in their 20s when they revolutionized the world, as were Google’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin and now Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Naturally, such people had no experience of being old, or understanding of the condition, and indeed having grown up in the nexus of youth-oriented culture they had very little contact with older people in their daily lives. It is thus unsurprising that new technology was designed without regard to the limitations that age brings. Whereas when the youngish Thompson invented the automatic transmission he operated under the direction of the elderly Alfred P. Sloan, the inventors of 2011’s advances have little or no adult supervision.

There are a number of factors that suggest technology’s youth-orientation may be about to reverse. First, the returns to investors on the innumerable venture capital investments of the late 1990s were abysmal, and there is every reason to believe that the results from the current crop will be no better. At some point, investors will get fed up with pouring their money down rat-holes; the prolonged period of tight money and high interest rates that will be necessary to combat rising inflation will intensify this pullback. This will again make it much more difficult for the under-30s to get funding and force most technological innovation back within large corporations, where it resided in the 1950s.

A second factor will be the continuing aging of the population in general and the refusal of the baby boomers to retire (largely because their overspending will have left them destitute in old age.) Within the corporations that increasingly become the principal nexus of innovation, decision making cadres will age in place, so that even if the new gadget producers are young, operational and funding decisions will be taken by the old. This is already happening; Steve Jobs, guiding force of the leading gadget innovator, is now 56.

A third factor will be the redistribution of purchasing power towards the old. With the baby boomers continuing longer in the workforce, and the young increasingly burdened by massive student debt at escalating interest rates, companies will be forced to go where the money is. Products designed by 25 year olds for 25 year olds will no longer find a sufficient market to be viable.

The redistribution of wealth towards emerging markets will alleviate this tendency, but not much. Most emerging markets have relatively low consumption as a percentage of GDP so the youthful gadget-oriented middle class are a small fraction of the total population. Then the emerging markets themselves are aging. China in particular is aging rapidly and will revert to the elder-orientation that is traditional to its culture. Currently the Chinese old are impoverished, having lost their prime earning years to the Cultural Revolution, but the next generation, young in the years when “to be rich is glorious” will have much higher purchasing power and will use it to pull producers towards their own needs. In any case, even with the emerging of new markets, much of the world’s purchasing power will remain concentrated in Europe and Japan, where the old are increasingly dominant.

If I were young, I would mourn the rapid passing of the years when innovations were designed by my contemporaries with my desires primarily in mind. Since I’m not, I will welcome the arrival of 2030’s equivalents of the 1957 Chrysler Imperial – self-driving, so that I no longer need to test my aging reflexes against those of insane youthful hot-rodders. I will also welcome the demise of the youth-oriented arrogance of the WSJ article – no more 33-year-olds lecturing me about my inadequacies!

Above all, I will welcome the arrival of that 1950s dream, sidetracked by the IT industry and society’s foolish orientation towards rootless, hyperactive youth: the fully functional household robot, built to withstand a generation of use with simple, easy to operate controls– the ultimate in making life easier and pleasanter for us old folk.



Ayn Rand Was Right: Wealthy Are on Strike Against Obama

I think Wayne Allyn Root is partly right below but that the effect he describes is just beginning so far. I think a lot of business people are waiting to see what Nov. 2012 brings forth

The U.S. economy is crumbling. Businesses are collapsing in record numbers. Jobs have disappeared. Tax revenues are down dramatically. Coincidence?

Everything happening today under Obama resembles the storyline of Ayn Rand’s famous book, Atlas Shrugged, one of the most popular books of all time, selling over 7 million copies. Now, under President Obama, Atlas Shrugged has come to life. Rand prophesized a country dominated by socialists, Marxists and statists, where looters, free loaders and poverty promoters live off the productive class. To rationalize the fleecing of innovative business owners and job creators, the looter class demonized the wealthy, just as Obama and his socialist cabal are doing in real life today.

The central plot of Atlas Shrugged is that in response to being demonized, over-taxed, over-regulated, and punished for success, America’s business owners were disappearing — dropping off the grid, and refusing to work 16-hour days to support those unwilling to put in the same blood, sweat and tears. They were going on strike. Because of that the original proposed title of “Atlas Shrugged” was “The Strike.”

They were going on strike to teach that civilization cannot survive when people are slaves to government. That without a productive class of innovative business owners willing to risk their own money and work 16-hour days, weekends and holidays, there are no jobs and no taxes to pay for government. If you punish the wealthy, the risk-takers, the innovators, you kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. In Obama’s America, fiction is becoming fact.

The lesson of Atlas Shrugged is that without the $100,000+ earners paying into Social Security, there are no pensions for the poor and lower middle class. Without the wealthy owners of million-dollar mansions paying $25,000 and $50,000 annual property tax bills, there is no funding for public schools. Without the wealthy paying into Medicare, there is no “free” healthcare for the elderly. Without capitalists motivated by profit, there are no discoveries to eradicate polio or create miraculous cancer and AIDS drugs. Without capitalists motivated by profit, there are no jobs, period! That is what happens when the producers of society go on strike to protect themselves from the looters.

Ayn Rand was warning the looters that there are consequences to their overzealous actions. She was warning that if the productive classes felt used, demonized, ripped off, and taken for granted, they would go on strike — stop working, retire early, go underground, or move to places where achievement is celebrated and they feel appreciated.

The latest U.S. Census proves Ayn Rand right. Under Obama the wealthy are striking, voting with their feet. They are moving to low-tax red states in droves, escaping from high-tax blue states where they are being demonized and punished by the millions.

The Census proves that Obama’s tax and spend philosophy is a dismal failure, an economic disaster killing jobs. It is no coincidence that 1.9 million FEWER Americans are working than before Obama’s stimulus. It is no coincidence that jobs are not returning to the private sector. It is no coincidence that tax revenues have dropped dramatically and cannot support Obama’s bloated Big Brother government. The innovators, risk-takers, and wealthy he demonized and punished are on strike.

The high tech revolution has killed the progressive-liberal tax-and-spend dream. Because of the Internet, email, Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Satellite TV, I-phones, I-pads, and cell phones, business owners are no longer prisoners of Big Brother. Take a look at states where the latest Census shows Americans moved during the past decade: Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alaska, Virginia — all low- or no-tax red states, states that lead the USA in economic freedom.

Now look at states they escaped from: New York, New Jersey, California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan. Taxpayers, business owners, jobs creators, retirees with assets are fleeing the high tax, big spending, Big Brother states — the states being run like Obama is running the nation.

Progressives be afraid, be very afraid. If Obama is re-elected, these valuable producers will pick up and leave America altogether. There is a big world out there begging them to come. Places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Monte Carlo, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Bahamas, and Cayman Islands are low-tax havens that appreciate business owners and their sacrifices. They welcome wealthy ex-patriots. They celebrate individual achievement. They reward instead of punish business owners and financial risk-takers. They are wonderful places to live and are aggressively pursuing Americans.

I am just one small businessman, a third-party Libertarian political leader. Yet I personally have heard from thousands of fans, friends and supporters who have left America, are thinking of leaving America, are visiting other countries right now to decide where to go, or making preparations to leave in case Obama is re-elected. Just as Ayn Rand predicted, business owners are going on strike. Permanently.

The high tech revolution has freed them to run their businesses from anywhere in the world. The same high tech tools and toys that toppled a powerful and invincible 30-year dictator in Egypt and now threaten to topple powerful leaders throughout the Arab world, also offer mobility and freedom to U.S. taxpayers. Obama better learn the lesson of Mubarek before millions more business people decide they do not need to put up with looters, free loaders, and politicians who despise them.

Atlas is shrugging. Ayn Rand is saying “I told you so.”




The medical marketplace, free and unfree: "Prior to the advent of Medicare and Medicaid, individuals paid for the majority of medical goods and services out of their own pocket and utilized health insurance as a rational tool for mitigating financial risk posed by catastrophic events. During this time a real market existed for the vast majority of medical goods, and services and prices were reasonable. However, after the advent of these programs, third-party spending on routine medical services increased, and out-of-pocket spending fell dramatically."

Genetic determinism versus parental irrelevantism: "I think that parents affect their kids in lots of ways. Parents have big effects on religious affiliation and political party, small effects on many other traits, and a clear effect on the quality of the parent-child relationship. And those are just long-run effects within vaguely normal, First World families. In the short-run, and outside the vaguely normal First World range, parents matter far more. Still, if someone were to caricature my position as 'parental irrelevantism,' I would take no offense. It's an inaccurate summary of my position, but not wildly inaccurate."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

The Missing Money

Thomas Sowell

One of my earliest memories of revulsion against war came from seeing a photograph from the First World War when I was a teenager. It was nothing gory. Just a picture of a military officer, in an impressive uniform, talking to a puzzled and forlorn-looking old peasant woman with a cloth wrapped around her head. He said simply: "Don't you understand, madam? The village is not there any more."

To many such people of that era, the village was the only world they knew. And to say that it had been destroyed in the carnage of war was to say that there was no way for them to go back home, that their whole world was gone.

Recently that image came back, in a wholly different context, while seeing pictures of American seniors carrying signs that read "Hands off my Social Security" and "Hands off my Medicare."

They want their Social Security and their Medicare to stay the way they are -- and their anger is directed against those who want to change the financial arrangements that pay for these benefits.

Their anger should be directed instead against those politicians who were irresponsible enough to set up these costly programs without putting aside enough money to pay for the promises that were made -- promises that now cannot be kept, regardless of which political party controls the government.

Someone needs to say to those who want Social Security and Medicare to continue on unchanged: "Don't you understand? The money is not there any more."

Many retired people remember the money that was taken out of their paychecks for years and feel that they are now entitled to receive Social Security benefits as a right. But the way Social Security was set up was so financially shaky that anyone who set up a similar retirement scheme in the private sector could be sent to federal prison for fraud.

But you can't send a whole Congress to prison, however much they may deserve it.

This is not some newly discovered problem. Innumerable economists and others pointed out decades ago that Social Security was unsustainable in the long run, including yours truly on "Meet the Press" in 1981.

But the long run doesn't count for most politicians, since elections are held in the short run. Politicians' election prospects are enhanced, the more goodies they can promise and the less taxes they collect to pay for them.

That is why welfare states in Europe as well as here are facing bitter public protests as the chickens come home to roost.

It has been said innumerable times that nobody already on Social Security will lose their benefits. But it needs to be spelled out emphatically, so that political demagogues will not be able to scare retired seniors that they are going to have the rug pulled out from under them.

Retired seniors have the least to fear from a reform of Social Security, since neither political party is about to take away what these retirees already have and are relying on.

Despite irresponsible political ads showing an old lady in a wheel chair being dumped over a cliff, the people who are really in danger of being dumped over a cliff are the younger generation, who are paying into Social Security but are unlikely to get back anything like what they are paying in.

The money that young workers are paying into Social Security today is not being put aside to pay for their retirement. It is being spent today, paying the pensions of the retired generation -- and it can't even cover that in the years ahead.

What needs to be done is to allow younger workers a choice of staying out of a system that is simply running out of money. Nor can the system be saved by simply jacking up taxes on "the rich."

Generations of experience have shown that high tax rates that "the rich" can easily avoid -- through tax shelters at home or by investing their money abroad -- do not bring in as much revenue as lower tax rates that keep the money here and the jobs here.

Since the law does not allow private pension plans to be set up in the financially irresponsible way Social Security is, that is where young people's money should be put, if they ever want to see that money again when they reach retirement age.



Here Come the Extremists!

It isn't quite panic yet, but the sounds emanating from Obamaland are certainly nervous. If you are David Axelrod, chief strategist for President Obama's re-election campaign, you are well aware of your idol's fall and doubtless less than thrilled to get this question from CNN's Candy Crowley:

"Something that the president said this week struck me ... he said it's not as cool to be an Obama supporter as it was in 2008... I think he's right. I think it's not as cool to be an Obama supporter now. How do you get cool back into this?"

Gee, how do you compare a campaign that was based entirely on vapid promises and vaporous sentiment with a referendum on actual job performance? Axelrod denied (unconvincingly) that the 2008 campaign had been a "cult of personality" and assured Crowley that once the campaign gets "fully engaged and the choices become clear, you are going to see a great deal of activity out there on his behalf." In a signal of just how feeble the case for Obama's re-election is, Axelrod fell back on the bogeyman:

"I think one of the things that's going to inform that campaign is whether that Republican candidate is going to yield to some of the forces within his own party or her own party that is driving their -- their party further to the right."

For the record, there has never been a time in the past 50 years that the Democrats have not claimed to detect a frightening rightward tilt in the GOP -- even as the party has nominated such wild-eyed radicals as George H.W. Bush, John McCain and George W. ("compassionate conservative") Bush.

Crowley pointed out that support for the president among independents has declined from 52 percent in the 2008 election to 42 percent today, and that even among staunch liberals, 89 percent of whom voted for Obama in 2008, support has dipped to 64 percent. How does the Obama team re-create a victory in light of these numbers?

She might have added so much more to that question. She might have asked how an incumbent requests re-election when the unemployment is at 9.1 percent. Even more worrisome, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fully half of the jobless are now long-term unemployed, meaning they have been without jobs for 27 weeks or longer. That is the highest percentage of long-term unemployed since the Labor Department starting keeping such records in 1948.

She might have asked how an incumbent achieves a vote of confidence when commodity prices on food and fuel are rising and, relatedly, the value of the dollar is plunging; when the housing market has yet to recover from the crash despite (or, more likely, because of) the president's Home Affordable Modification Program, which has prevented markets from clearing; when a record one in seven Americans now receives Food Stamps; when one out of six Americans is on Medicaid; and when a whopping 62.5 percent of respondents say the nation is on the wrong track.

When the economy is strong, elections can turn on a variety of issues. But when the economy is poor, elections are seldom about anything else. The 1980 race was illustrative.

Though the Carter/Reagan race is remembered now as a landslide for Ronald Reagan, the contours of the victory were not apparent during the campaign. As late as October 29, Gallup had the race as a dead heat, with Reagan at 44 percent and President Carter at 43 (it was a three-man race). Other polling showed larger margins for Reagan but nothing like the 10-point margin of victory he achieved. At the time, the contest was perceived as close.

It was after the first and only debate, a week before Election Day, that voters definitively moved into Reagan's column. At the time, inflation was running at 13.5 percent, unemployment was 7 percent and interest rates were 21 percent. American hostages remained in Tehran. Carter's approval ratings hovered in the 30s during the final year of his tenure.

Why wasn't Carter perceived as hopelessly weak? Perhaps because as bad as things were, voters needed to be confident about the challenger's fitness. Carter had succeeded to some degree in frightening voters about Reagan's (you guessed it) right-wing extremism. Reagan's reassuring debate performance allayed those fears. And Reagan's summation drilled to the heart of voters' concerns. Ask yourself, Reagan advised, "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

The economy today is in some respects worse than it was in 1980. Barring a catastrophe, little else will matter in 2012. Any credible Republican can defeat Obama -- which is why Axelrod is already smearing as "extremist" a person whose name he does not know.



A Big Win For Common Sense

The Unconscious Prejudice Industry -- the boo-hoo-we're-all-guilty-stop-us-before-we-discriminate-again lobby -- took it deservedly on the chin Monday from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Genial enough was the court's unanimous decision not to allow advancement of a sexual discrimination suit against Wal-Mart, inasmuch as the plaintiffs were using the wrong part of the right law. Better still was the conservative bloc's rejection of a claim to the effect that Wal-Mart managers might have been allowing stereotypes to influence their personnel decisions, thus engaging in "gender bias" against 200 actual claimants who wished judicial permission to speak for a million and a half female employees.

A University of Illinois-Chicago professor, William Bielby, had cooked up this fragrant theory by using something called "social framework analysis." The reference is to "scientific evidence about gender bias, stereotypes, and the structures and dynamics of gender inequality in organizations."

The inventors of the concept, also academicians, had already accused Bielby of neglecting to research Wal-Mart's actual performance, but it was left to the justices to pour this malodorous broth down the kitchen sink. Where was the proof of anything that Wal-Mart had done wrong? The 5-4 majority wished to know. There wasn't any, apart from a small collection of anecdotes. Everything else was inferential. It had to be so, because it had to be so, because ...

The Unconscious Prejudice Industry, which imputes bias to people on the basis of sex or race, has no notion of closing down and going away. For one thing, class action suits employ too many plaintiff's lawyers shopping for the next judicial bonanza. These folks get no discouragement from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who wrote in the Wal-Mart case that "Managers, like all humankind, may be prey to biases of which they are unaware."

Well, yes, as a matter of fact. You might even say the same of Supreme Court justices. Does this mean we should bar Justice Ginsburg from sitting on cases with plaintiffs or defendants against whom she might nurture some bias kept carefully on her person? For that matter, what about the rest of the courts? What about you? What about me?

Federal and state law make certain assumptions that they are well entitled to make when it comes to stated obvious bias; for instance, the job advertisements in 19th-century Massachusetts: "No Irish need apply." What happens, nevertheless, in a case the Wal-Mart allegations could have turned into? Wal-Mart officially prohibits personnel discrimination. It accords its local managers the latitude that alone keeps decision processes flexible. What that means, to the Unconscious Prejudice Industry, is that things work the opposite way. Yes, they say they don't discriminate. But, of course, they must and do. "Framework analysis" tell us so: one more sign of the general loopiness of modern life.

Evidence? What need has the liberal mind for evidence -- the mind in which the idea of unconscious prejudice was hatched to begin with? The burden of these cases on society grows cumbersome.

First to notice is the cost of litigation. Millions spent on lawyers isn't doing much besides strengthening the second-home industry. Then watch as we become a culture of bleaters into whose heads the alien thought couldn't possibly penetrate: Gee, maybe I just didn't do the job very well!

The whole matter of fairness in hiring and promotion suffers from any public perception that the government alone can save us from the hateful little minds of managers and personnel employees who don't even know how biased they are.

In the Wal-Mart case, the Supreme Court kept things from getting worse -- economically, intellectually, constitutionally than they are at present, but the problem persists and will re-emerge. It's just too easy, and maybe too profitable, to take for granted that mean old white male power brokers did somebody in due to unconscious white male biases (which deserve to cost them big time).

There's another factor. The court majority on "unconscious bias" was 5-4: too narrow for comfort, as the constitutional lawyer in the Oval Office has surely noticed.



Culture of death silences opposition in New York

The culture of death is relentless. And certain of its adherents—Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America, for example—are not only committed to the promotion, provision, and performance of abortions, but to removing every obstacle that might deter a woman from having one.

In this they prove that the argument isn’t really between pro-choice and anti-choice, as they wish to cast it, but between defenders of life and those consumed with the money-making opportunities which await doctors willing to kill hundreds of thousands of children each year at a rate of about one child every 95 seconds. (If we consider all abortion providers, rather than Planned Parenthood alone, there are about 1.2 million abortions each year at a rate of about one child every 27 seconds.)

Just consider the full frontal assault NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and others have been carrying out against pregnancy centers in places like New York City throughout this year. With the help of all-too willing accomplices like Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city council, these profiteers of death have secured passage of a law which forces such pregnancy centers to post signs in English and Spanish telling women a long list of “disclosures” mandated by the city, including whether they perform abortions, whether a licensed medical provider is on staff (even though New York state law does not require medical providers at non-medical centers), and that the city health department encourages women to consult with one.

The law requires the signs to be posted in various locations throughout the pregnancy centers and replicated in any advertisements issued by the centers. Moreover, counselors working at the pregnancy centers must provide the same message “in person or over the phone when a client requests or inquires” about certain services.

Clearly, the purpose of the signs is to dissuade women from going to pregnancy centers instead of abortion mills. In effect, the signs are part of larger push to regulate pro-life help providers in order to deny choice to women who want to pursue solutions other than abortion when a need arises.



My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Russia inching away from the greenback

After Obama's money printing binge has suddenly devalued it

THE Russian Central Bank will pour up to $US5 billion ($4.7bn) into the Australian dollar in a fresh wave of support for the currency, in a move to diversify its reserves and shift away from the US dollar.

The first deputy chairman of the Russian central bank, Alexei Ulyukayev, said that starting from September, the bank would hold Australian dollars for up to 1 per cent of its $US528bn in reserves.

He said at a conference at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum that the last meeting of the central bank's monetary policy committee had approved a list of banks that would buy Australian dollars. "They will place funds on deposit and buy securities (in Australian dollars)," he said. 'I expect (the start of operations) in (the northern) autumn. I cannot say more -- maybe in September, maybe in October."

A top economic aide to President Dmitry Medvedev, Arkady Dvorkovich, said Russia would continue to lower its US debt holdings. Its stock of US Treasuries has already gone down from $US176bn last October to $US125bn in April.

The comments by Russian officials come as Australian economists report increasing interest in the Australian currency by other central banks and sovereign wealth funds, amid uncertainty about the economic outlook in the US and Europe. Increasing foreign interest has powered the Australian dollar's rise from parity with the US dollar earlier this year to around $US1.06 today.

"The Australian dollar is the fifth largest traded currency in the world now. It has been backed, for some considerable time, by sound monetary policy and, because of the structure of the Australian economy, real interest rates here are high.

"If you hold the Australian dollar, you can be confident that inflation will remain reasonably controlled and real interest rates are high, which means you are going to get a good return."

Mr Murray said the dollar was also seen as a proxy for the emerging Asian nations, including China. "If you can't buy (the Chinese currency), you can buy the Australian dollar. This is one factor putting some upward pressure on the Australian dollar."

Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens warned Australians last week to get used to living with a strong dollar. He indicated the bank was considering raising interest rates at its August board meeting unless data showed inflation was under control.

Rob Henderson, chief economist, markets, with National Australia Bank, said he expected foreign central banks and fund managers to keep buying into Australian government bonds. "Australia is one of the world's true AAA-rated government debts at the moment," he said.

More here


Open Letter to Paul Krugman

From Donald J. Boudreaux, Professor of Economics, George Mason University

Interviewed recently in “The Browser,” you said that
if you ask a liberal or a saltwater economist, “What would somebody on the other side of this divide say here? What would their version of it be?” A liberal can do that. A liberal can talk coherently about what the conservative view is because people like me actually do listen. We don’t think it’s right, but we pay enough attention to see what the other person is trying to get at.

The reverse is not true. You try to get someone who is fiercely anti-Keynesian to even explain what a Keynesian economic argument is, they can’t do it. They can’t get it remotely right. Or if you ask a conservative,”What do liberals want?” You get this bizarre stuff – for example, that liberals want everybody to ride trains, because it makes people more susceptible to collectivism.

You just have to look at the realities of the way each side talks and what they know. One side of the picture is open-minded and sceptical. We have views that are different, but they’re arrived at through paying attention. The other side has dogmatic views.

Let’s overlook your failure to distinguish conservatives from libertarians – a failure that, for the point I’m about to make, is unimportant.

You’re able to conclude that “liberals” are open-minded thinkers while “conservatives” are dumb-as-dung dogmatists only because you compare the works of “liberal” scholars to the pronouncements of conservative popular pundits. However valid or invalid is the artistic license used by conservative celebrities such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh (and, for that matter, by “liberal” celebrities such as Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann) to entertain large popular audiences, you’re wrong to equate the pronouncements of conservative media stars with the knowledge and works of conservative (and libertarian) scholars.

Because, as you claim, you study carefully the works of non-”liberal” scholars, you surely know that the late Frank Knight, Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Milton Friedman – influential economists whom you would classify as “conservative” – were all steeped in and treated seriously the writings of Keynes, Marx, Veblen, Galbraith, and other “liberal” thinkers.

The same is true for still-living influential non-”liberal” scholars.

I’d be obliged to conclude that you in fact, contrary your claim, do not carefully engage the works of non-”liberal” scholars if you insist that “liberal” scholarship is ignored by conservative and libertarian thinkers such as James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, Ronald Coase, Armen Alchian, Harold Demsetz, Anna Schwartz, Gary Becker, Vernon Smith, Leland Yeager, Henry Manne, Deirdre McCloskey, Allan Meltzer, Richard Epstein, Tyler Cowen, Arnold Kling, George Selgin, Lawrence H. White, and James Q. Wilson, to name only a few.

You do a disservice to scholars such as these, as well as to scholarship generally, to assert that serious thinking is done only by you and your ideological cohorts.


Prof. Boudreaux's reply exposes the dishonesty of the Jug Man's writing. He could also have mentioned that the Jug Man's claim about closed and open-mindedness is a hoary one. Psychologists have been making the same claim since at least 1950. The research they quote in support of the claim is deeply flawed however, mostly based on what students say. More careful research using general population samples has shown the claim to be wrong


The German health insurance system

In summary: Mandatory but competitive insurance for all -- paid for by BOTH employer and employee -- with a range of private but government-approved non-profit insurers

As one would expect of the richest country in Europe, Germany offers high quality healthcare, from primary care through to high-tech hospitals and good provision for chronic disease and old age.

It all dates back to Otto von Bismarck, the “Iron Chancellor” who established Germany’s social welfare system in the 1870s. He was reported to have said it was immoral to benefit from sickness, and that “insurance should be on the mutual principle (so that the healthy pay as much as the sick) and no dividends or profits should be derived by private persons”.

One could argue that these high-minded principles exist more in the imagination than reality. But Bismarck’s broad idea of a range of statutory health insurers, independent of providers, competing against each other, holds good. Insurers (also known as sick funds or mutuals) are financed by contributions from employers and employees.


The “Bismarck system” operates across most of Europe, including Austria, Netherlands, France and Switzerland, all with well-rated healthcare. The NHS’s “Beveridge system,” free at point of use and taxpayer funded, may be much loved by the British people, but arguably does not match the Bismarck system in medical outcomes and aspects of patient satisfaction.

In Germany, you don’t wait 18 weeks from referral for joint replacement. Equally, “Bismarck” countries largely avoided the high hospital infection rates in NHS units in the Noughties.

Waits in Germany remain close to nonexistent – even if economic pressures apply, as with all Western countries with ageing populations. And care for the chronic sick and elderly is regarded as far better than in Britain. If you suffer cancer or need certain operations, your insurer may have to pay for a lengthy stay at a salubrious “rehab centre” in the Black Forest. That is not in the NHS book.


With Germany spending 11 per cent of its (considerable) GDP on healthcare, one would expect good health outcomes. They are respectable, with life expectancy at 77 for men and 83 for women. The yardstick of a nation’s healthcare efficiency, infant mortality, is four per 1,000 live births, a satisfactory figure for a country with high numbers of less well-off immigrants.


The German state is as vulnerable as the UK, America or other European states to the problems of mounting healthcare bills. Indeed, it is particularly exposed because of a shrinking and ageing workforce, and falling birth rates.

That is why Chancellor Angela Merkel defied heavy opposition to push through wide-ranging changes to the state health system in 2010. One aim was to limit ever-rising taxes on employers (who to that point jointly funded the system through equal contributions). That represented a barrier to taking on staff, in turn aggravating unemployment.

Another aim was to throw the onus of meeting rising healthcare bills on insurers, and ultimately, policyholders.


From January 2011, employers have to pay 15.5 per cent of their income towards healthcare. (The previous rate was 14.9 per cent). This is a huge proportion of income by comparison with other countries, but it should be remembered that the cover is for cradle-to-grave service.

But the 15.5 per cent employers’ rate is fixed in law and frozen long term. The sums raised are ultimately distributed among scores of state registered health insurers, many quite small and trade-union based. The idea is that by freezing the employers’ income-related contribution rate, the onus falls on insurers to cope with future cost rises. Insurers will either increase premiums – arguably the most likely scenario – or slash overheads and tighten efficiency.


As with all insurance-based health schemes, the individual needs to weigh up premium against benefits. As a German government spokesman puts it: “The premium, which has to be paid by all members of a health insurance fund, is a transparent price signal. It allows the insured to compare the price and the benefit package and choose the fund with the best price-performance ratio.”

Some relief exists for people trapped in an insurance fund that hikes premiums unreasonably. If the average additional premium exceeds two per cent of a policyholder’s income, the individual is reimbursed by the state. To avoid bureaucracy, compensation is paid indirectly, by lowering the income-related contribution rate of the person in question. To cover these costs, €2 billion has been made available until 2014.

If a health fund has to levy an additional premium, or increase its premium, it must notify its members of their right to cancel their membership. Members are allowed to leave their old fund and join a new one within two months of an additional premium coming into force.


If the Merkel reforms work, the chancellor can thank her 19th century predecessor for bequeathing a system that makes competition possible.

Mrs Merkel needs success because the reforms prompted a steep fall in her poll ratings. She was roundly attacked by opposition parties, trade unions and insurers. They claimed the reforms were aimed more at raising money than cutting costs.

But Germany has at least made a serious attempt to tackle a problem that is afflicting every Western nation. Each is trying a different approach. That’s a sure sign that no one nation has the answer to the spiralling health costs of an increasingly greying and demanding populace.




White House criticized over cuts in pediatrician training: "The Obama administration’s bid to slash funding for training pediatricians at children’s hospitals is provoking intense protests from medical educators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. This year, the administration, as part of its 2012 budget, proposed terminating a program that provides more than $300 million a year to the 56 free-standing children’s hospitals around the country, which train 40 percent of the nation’s pediatricians and 43 percent of pediatric subspecialists. In addition, it cut $48 million from the program this month as part of the overall spending reductions for the current year that were in the budget agreement reached with Congress."

Israel will block flotilla: "Israel Navy commander Adm. Eliezer Marom issued a stark warning on Sunday for the organizers of the Gaza flotilla intended to set sail at the end of the month. 'The Navy has prevented and will continue to prevent the arrival of the 'hate flotilla' whose only goals are to clash with IDF soldiers, create media provocation and to delegitimize the State of Israel,' Marom cautioned during a graduation ceremony of the Israel Navy's submarine fighters."

Railroad resists $400 million drug war fines: "A border security program to X-ray every train rolling into the country has prompted as much as $400 million in fines against U.S. railroads, which are held responsible for the pungent bales of marijuana, tight bundles of cocaine and anything else criminals cram into the boxcars and tankers as they roll through Mexico. Union Pacific, the largest rail shipper on the U.S.-Mexico border and the largest recipient of fines, refuses to pay ... the railroad argues that it's being punished for something it cannot control: criminals stashing illegal drugs in rail cars in Mexico."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Shovel-ready Obama

"Shovel-ready was not as ... uh ... shovel-ready as we expected," Barack Obama joked the other day at a meeting of his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

Republicans jumped on Obama's comment as insensitive. "He joked about the wildly mistaken predictions he and others at the White House made a couple of years back about the job-creating potential of the stimulus," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Well, I don't think the 14 million Americans who are looking for jobs right now find any of this very funny."

I'm sure they don't, but the fact that the president laid an egg when he tried to be self-deprecating isn't the scandal here.

After all, Obama has pretty much said the same thing several times. In a New York Times magazine profile last October, the president admitted he had to learn the hard way that there's "no such thing as shovel-ready projects."

This is a staggering indictment of the president, the team he assembled and the journalists who accepted this administration's arrogant assertions that they knew exactly what to do, how to do it, and what would happen as a result. Remember, this is the administration that to this day insists it is "pragmatic" and simply cares about "what works."

"I think we can get a lot of work done fast," President-elect Obama said shortly after gathering of governors in December 2008 "All of them have projects that are shovel-ready, that are going to require us to get the money out the door."

Jared Bernstein, the economic advisor to Vice President Joe Biden -- the White House's point man on the stimulus -- said in a cable news interview in February 2009: "I think what people need to understand is that this really isn't rocket science." Spend a bundle on public works projects and -- boom -- you get a lot of people working.

They were wrong.

They were wrong not just about the effect of infrastructure spending -- even an analysis by the Associated Press found no evidence unemployment was significantly improved by the Recovery Act's public works projects -- but they were wrong about the existence of shovel-ready jobs in the first place. (They were also misleading, since only a tiny, tiny fraction of the stimulus went to any infrastructure at all. The bulk went to social programs.)

Back in October, when Obama admitted that he had to learn on the job that shovel-ready jobs don't exist, then-Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell -- a leader in the push for the stimulus -- told the New York Times it was all a terrible misunderstanding. "When we said 'shovel ready' we meant 'shovel ready' in the way we do things." He added, "I don't think we meant to be deceptive."

You've got to love the "I don't think" there.

The "way we do things" involves endless paperwork, union regulations, environmental red tape and the like. That's why it only took 410 days to build the Empire State building and 16 months to build the Pentagon but nearly 20 years to complete Boston's Big Dig. Lord knows how long it will be for the government to finish work on Ground Zero.

The point is that the president and his team came into office insisting that they were on top of things and above mere ideological considerations. When confronted with skepticism about the existence of "shovel-ready" projects, they in effect rolled their eyes and scoffed at the backseat drivers.

But they were the ones who were blinded by ideology. One need not be an ideologue to understand that public works contracting has become bloated and inefficient. Indeed, one must be an ideologue of a certain kind not to understand that. Or one has to be incredibly naive. Or both.

Perhaps that's why Obama's real economic agenda never changed to fit the economic crisis. During the campaign he promised to reform health care and fight for a green economy. After the financial crisis, the "pragmatist" stuck to his outdated agenda, saying -- surprise! -- what the economy needs is the same agenda he promised before. So while he kept saying he was obsessed with job creation, he spent all of his political capital on health care reform and energy. All the while, the White House tries to spin its agenda as something it's not.

For instance, you know where this jobs council meeting took place? At Cree Inc., an LED light bulb maker. Under the supposedly jobs-boosting stimulus, Cree received $5.2 million. According to Recovery.gov, that $5.2 million created 3.02 jobs. That's $1,716,171 per job.

There's a funny joke in there somewhere, but I don't think Obama wants to tell it.



Obama's Job-Killing Jobs Council

President Obama says he's 100% focused these days on creating jobs. So why is he taking advice from a bunch of CEOs whose companies have been shedding jobs for years?

In February, Obama chartered the Jobs and Competitiveness Council with a mission of leaving "no stone unturned" in the search of ways to boost the country's anemic job growth. But you could tell from the start that this council would have trouble even finding those stones, let alone turning them over.

After all, Obama stuffed the group full of Fortune 500 CEOs - General Electric, American Express, DuPont, Time Warner, Eastman Kodak and Xerox, among them. While these may be good companies, they've hardly been roaring engines of job growth. In most cases, in fact, the opposite is true. Some examples:

GE's domestic workforce shrank by 25,000 - almost 16% - between 2001 and 2010, according to the company's annual reports. (The number of overseas GE jobs climbed over those years.)

AmEx employed 28% fewer workers in 2010 than it did a decade ago.

Kodak's workforce cratered to just 18,800 last year from 75,000 in 2001.

Xerox's employee base shrank by nearly a third between 2001 and 2009, before it acquired Affiliated Computer Services and its 74,000 workers in 2010.

Even Intel has trimmed the number of workers it employs over the past decade.

Beyond this, the board is made up of the heads of two big unions, an energy company, a railroad, an airline, a couple investment firms, and the like.

Just one business represented on the board - Facebook - is a genuine growth company. And the council is all but devoid of the kind of small- and midsize firms responsible for two-thirds of the nation's new jobs.

It's little wonder, then, that the list of immediate must-do, job-creating ideas the council came up with - and outlined in a Monday op-ed signed by GE's Jeff Immelt and AmEx's Ken Chenault - is so uninspiring.

More money to retrain workers? More tax dollars retrofitting commercial buildings to boost energy efficiency? More government loans passed out by the Small Business Administration? That's the best the council could come up with after almost four months' work?

At least the board did give a nod to job-choking red tape, calling on the administration to streamline permitting processes. But what about the three job-creating free-trade agreements Obama has locked up in his desk drawer? How about an immediate cut in corporate and capital gains taxes? Or for that matter any of the many other job creation ideas we detailed in this space last week?



Church of England wants homosexual bishops if they have "repented" their homosexuality

As long as the repentance is sincere that seems in line with Christian ideas of forgiveness. I can't imagine sincere repentance in that church, however. I think it will end up as just a form of words

The Church of England is to give the go-ahead for the appointment of openly homosexual bishops. The Church will publish legal advice on Monday that says that homosexual clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops - as long as they remain celibate.

The legal guidance makes clear that it would be wrong for a cleric's sexual orientation to be taken into account when considering their suitability as a bishop.

However, the guidance will say that homosexual clergy should be made to clarify that they are not in an active sexual relationship - effectively make a promise that they are and will remain celibate.

It would also mean candidates for a bishopric being questioned over their previous sex life and asked whether they repent having gay sex.

The advice is likely to trigger a new row over the role of homosexual priests in the Church. Conservatives and liberals are bitterly divided over the issue.

The guidance is being sent to members of the General Synod, the Church's parliament, which meets in York next month and was produced by church lawyers in response to the Equality Act, legislation introduced last year which gives protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.

It says that the CNC can take into account a series of factors when deciding whether an openly gay man is a suitable candidate to become a bishop, including "whether the candidate had always complied with the Church's teaching on same-sex sexual activity", and "whether he had expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity".

Senior clergy responsible for selecting bishops are allowed to reject openly gay clergy who have not "expressed repentance for any previous same-sex sexual activity" and are not considered to be a focus for unity, it says. These were two of the key reasons evangelicals said Dean John was unsuitable to be appointed Bishop of Reading.



"Glittering": The infantile mentality of the Left shining bright

It mainly seems to be the work of homosexuals. They appear intent on showing that they have the mentality of little girls. Who am I to argue?

Is glitter the new weapon-of-choice for the Left? Based on the (lack of) police response to these sparkling assaults, one can assume that `glitterings' will probably continue to occur and with greater frequency.

Four weeks ago Newt Gingrich was covered in glitter at a book signing. Last week Tim Pawlenty was targeted for `glittering' by a gay rights activist in San Francisco. Today, in her home state of Minnesota, after speaking to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters at the RightOnline conference, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann was the latest conservative to be `glittered' by a protester.

The attackers see nothing wrong with their actions. But one wonders what the reaction would be if someone doused First Lady Michelle Obama with glitter or decided to deliver a `rainbow of pride' to Nancy Pelosi? It is safe to assume that the perpetrator would probably be hit with a Taser, wrestled to the ground, cuffed, and then hauled off to jail.

The three recent strikes against conservatives have yielded not a single arrest. Instead, the attackers usually end up on television, or in the newspaper.

The liberal organization GetEQUAL is promoting these attacks on any politician who disagrees with their position on gay marriage. In addition, they are offering to train anyone who might be interested in learning how to attack a politician.



Bachmann Turns On Overdrive

I've given birth to five babies, and I've taken 23 foster children into my home," Michele Bachmann explained from the stage of the first major Republican presidential primary debate of the 2012 season.

Jon Stewart would joke the next day that Bachmann was the winner of the primary "baby-off." Imagining himself as the moderator, "The Daily Show" host added: "And I just wanna ask everyone else here up on the dais, have you ever had to divide a birthday cake into 28 equal pieces?"

The Minnesota congresswoman was answering a question about abortion and brandishing her most authentic credentials as an embodiment of those God-given rights that America was established to protect. She also underscored one of the ways she is a formidable challenge to conventional media narratives about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, and the brutalized versions of those ideals reflected in President Obama's policies. She represents a continuing, promising threat to the prevailing view of what exactly social justice (see www.seeksocialjustice.com) and even feminism is.

The entrance of Sarah Palin on the national political scene in 2008 marked a milestone: No longer could the mainstream media pretend that women in politics were all about liberalism, wedded to the so-called "women's issue" of legal abortion. With her campaign for the presidency, Bachmann drives that point home.

"Michele Bachmann's commanding presence and performance in the debate sealed a political evolution that has been fomenting for some time: the diminution of feminism and the evolution of femininity," Kellyanne Conway, president of the polling company, says.

And it's about time. Polls consistently show that the majority of the country leans toward a pro-life position -- it's why advocates of legal abortion will talk about making it "rare." We're a country that knows that abortion is not a good thing. And even 57 percent of "pro-choice" women in New York City think the 41 percent abortion rate there is outrageous, according to a recent McLaughlin & Associates poll.

"In filing her papers, Bachmann became the first serious female U.S. presidential candidate who is neither a career politician nor married to one," Conway says. "She has an everywoman appeal the connects her to millions of Americans; she is accessible, authentic and affable. She is passionate but not angry, intelligent but plainspoken. Like many woman, she came to her beliefs through a series of events and over a number of years."

She represents the tea-party movement at its empowering best. As Conway recalls: "Bachmann is not alone. 2010 was rightly called the 'Year of the Conservative Woman,' with record numbers of right-leaning women winning state and federal elective office. What's more, it was the year of the conservative woman voter. Women comprised a majority of the electorate that produced historic gains for the GOP, and for the first time since pollsters have been keeping track, women favored Republicans over Democrats for Congress. That was a huge turnaround from the 56 percent who voted for President Obama two short years earlier. Millions of women identify with the tea party and women are much more likely to call themselves 'conservative' than 'liberal.' Their elevation of Republicans was consonant with their rejection of bailouts, spending, government expansion and the tipping point, health care reform. Women have married their microeconomic sensibilities with macroeconomic savvy."

It's a far cry from the "war on women" rhetoric that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is stuck on, clinging to what Conway calls "the tired, harsh, outdated feminist playbook."


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Ignorance (Of Liberalism) Is Bliss

Too often, presidential primaries resemble American Idol auditions and bear about as much ideological substance. How alarming that our cherished liberties can rest on the whims of focus groups and the same Madison Avenue machinations used to sell toothpaste.

Politics regularly sells style over substance, and the temptation lingers to select our leaders breathlessly hopeful of the approval of those who deem themselves the final arbiters of electability — the mainstream media.

Thanks to the media’s incessant prattle about, among other attributes, his towering intellect, Barack Obama was elected president and now presides over an economy careening ever closer to a double-dip recession. And while no one would argue that intelligence is undesirable, it is over-esteemed by some in the bloviating classes (both left and right) as a noble trait unto itself.

Just calling someone intelligent confers stature unattainable merely by displaying goodness or prudence or to-the-death loyalty. A lack of intellectual finesse, despite her convictions and ability to inspire, makes Palin fodder for ridicule and marginalizes her beliefs and her staunchest followers.

After the 2008 election, Sarah Palin was advised by the media’s armchair political consultants to read more and brush up on foreign policy. Excuse me? Brush up on foreign policy? Did any pundit ever demand that Barack Obama brush up on foreign policy? Or economic policy? Where would America be today if someone had offered candidate Obama the works of Adam Smith and Milton Friedman?

Palin, of course, recently offered a garbled account of Paul Revere’s ride, and Michele Bachmann placed Concord in the wrong state. But would either one of these so-called dim bulbs have removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the White House to the dissatisfaction of our staunchest allies in Britain, like you know who?

Would the majority rather be led by the historically ignorant who promote the original Constitution (as Palin did on her tour, handing out copies) or by those who stretch a ‘living’ Constitution, as liberals do, to cunningly enact electorally unpopular ideas?

Again, no one is endorsing ignorance, but maybe if more leaders were a little less in tune to the leftist orthodoxy, our country would be a freer, more prosperous nation. Sarah may well possess a near-childlike understanding of our founding, but her general interpretation is closer to the truth and more in line with the thinking of her fellow citizens.

While many Americans can cite only a cursory knowledge of the fact that George Washington owned slaves, enough liberals can recite the facts like gospel, so that the father of our country’s name has been removed from some schools and his birthday has been diluted as a national holiday. But it is the ignoramuses of flyover country who grasp the larger truth — Washington and our founders, imperfect though they were, laid much of the groundwork for ending slavery in this country, thus they still deserve our admiration.

It is these larger truths that unite Americans behind shared history and values. Obama sycophants, on the other hand, only want to be the smartest kids in the class, and you know what you can do with your American greatness.

The leadership for which this country is starving is predicated upon conviction, common sense and community of like-minded, inspiring individuals, thus if Sarah Palin doesn’t read, at least she isn’t reading Karl Marx, Saul Alinsky or the collected sermons of Jeremiah Wright.

Leadership is also about assuring others that you “have their back.” Finally, more than two years into Hope & Change America, people crave a re-affirmation of our founding values of freedom, accountability and limited government. It’s bold, it’s brilliant, but it doesn’t take a Harvard degree to understand.

Ultimately, hyper-intelligence in pursuit of bad policy is national suicide, while common sense in defense of liberty is idealism in action.



Blood On Their Hands: Giving Guns to Criminals Was the Plan All Along

“Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated.” –Special Agent John Dodson ATF Phoenix Field Division.

Damning new evidence from Capitol Hill shows that ATF Directors and Justice Department Officials knew about and encouraged the purposeful trafficking of thousands of weapons across the southern border, despite strong objections from ATF agents. Thousands of innocent lives were taken as the result, including those of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and ICE Agent Jamie Zapata.

New emails released by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa show that ATF Director Kenneth Melson was briefed weekly about Operation Fast and Furious and watched a live feed of straw purchasers (who serve as middle men, purchasing guns and giving them to cartel members) in Arizona gun shops from his cozy Washington D.C. office. Emails also show that Deputy Assistant Director for Field Operations William McMahon was enthusiastic about the operation.

“An e-mail from April 12, 2010, indicates that Acting Director Melson was very much in the weeds with Operation Fast and Furious. After a detailed briefing of the program by the ATF Phoenix Field Division, Acting Director Melson had a plethora of follow-up questions that required additional research to answer. As the document indicates, Mr. Melson was interested in the IP Address for hidden cameras located inside cooperating gun shops. With this information, Acting Director Melson was able to sit at his desk in Washington and – himself – watch a live feed of the straw buyers entering the gun stores to purchase dozens of AK-47 variants,” Chairman Issa said in his opening statement.

Senator Charles Grassley, who has been working closely with Rep. Issa, pointed out that officials from the Justice Department have been stonewalling the investigation for months. Attorney General Eric Holder has said he is unaware of who ordered the operation.

“On October 26, 2009, emails indicate that there was a meeting of senior law enforcement officials at the Justice Department. It appears to have included the heads every law enforcement component of the Department, including directors of the FBI, the DEA and the ATF. It also included the U.S. Attorneys for all the Southwest border states, the Director of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee,” Grassley testified.

Emails also show that ATF encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw buyers, in spite of their own hesitance to do so.

"ATF encouraged gun dealers to sell to straw buyers. Emails prove that at least one dealer worried prophetically about the risk. He [a dealer] wrote to ATF about his concern that a border patrol agent might end up facing the wrong end of one of these guns. ATF supervisors told the dealer not to worry. So, the agents said it was a bad idea. And, the gun dealers said it was a bad idea, but ATF supervisors continued anyway", Grassley said.

Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was that agent. He was killed by cartel member 18 miles north of the U.S.-Mexico border near Rio Rico, Ariz. Agent Terry was a fighter-a former Marine who was willing to put everything he had, including his life, on the line for his country. He was dedicated to his job, his family and the United States.

ICE Agent Jamie Zapata was killed in Mexico in February 2011 while on assignment. He was killed by a gun traced back to Operation Fast and Furious, however, Zapata’s family will never see justice. Once guns flow back into Mexico, they are no longer within the jurisdiction of the United States, leaving the government without any authority to prosecute anyone for any crime.

Three Special ATF Agents gave additional incriminating testimony. ATF Agent Dodson, one of the first whistleblowers to come out publicly against Operation Fast and Furious, provided details about the failed operation.

“I was involved in this operation, we monitored as they purchased hand guns, AK-47 variants, and .50 caliber rifles almost daily. Rather than contradict any enforcement actions, we took notes, we recorded observations, we tracked movements of these individuals for a short time after their purchases, but nothing more. Knowing all the while, just days after these purchases, the guns that we saw these individuals buy would begin turning up at crime scenes in the United States and Mexico, we still did nothing,” Dodson said. “Allowing loads of weapons that we knew to be destined for criminals, this was the plan. It was so mandated.” And there still isn’t an explanation as to why....

According to testimony, it has become common practice for retaliation to occur against ATF Agents who spoke out against their supervisor's corruption, even when operations had no logical backing.

Forcelli also added that while the ATF was ordering gun dealers to sell to straw buyers under surveillance, gun dealers were taking the heat for it, and being held responsible for violence in Mexico. He stressed gun dealers were not the problem. In fact gun dealers were helpful in pursuing cases against cartel members, making it blatantly clear law abiding gun owners are not at fault, but the government is.

Issa said he will continue to investigate in order to find the truth and get to the bottom of the operatation. The government owes the truth to the American people and to the family of Brian Terry and Jamie Zapata, he explained. “There has now become a focus on getting the truth out.”

More here


ANN BARNHARDT has an explanation for the absurdity above

If her explanation seems extreme, remember that Obama was brought up as a Muslim and had both a Communist father and Communist mentors. Those things are facts, not theories

Obama and Holder are complicit in murder and are engaging in outright treason just within the matrix of Gunwalker alone. Bottom line:

Gunwalker never, ever had ANYTHING to do with drug enforcement or stopping the cartels. NOTHING. The reason that the Obama regime, which we all know is a treasonous Marxist-totalitarian enemy force, executed the Gunwalker program was to create optics (lots of dead Mexican civilians, dead Mexican law enforcement, dead Mexican military and dead Americans) that they could then use to justify the elimination of the Second Amendment via the U.N. -- specifically the Small Arms Treaty.

ATF insiders have reported that the Obama regime was "giddy" that Mexicans were being killed by Gunwalker firearms. This is because these people are Marxists, and as I have said here repeatedly, Marxists lie and murder human beings as policy. Marxists believe that human life has no intrinsic value and that human beings are object pawns that can be used and exterminated without compunction in order to further their own goals and increase their own power.

In this case, the goal is to disarm the people of the United States so that the Marxist-Obamaist regime can seize totalitarian, dictatorial power, overthrow the Constitution, and establish a global power matrix. This disarmament will be achieved (or so they think) by using the meme of American omni-culpability. In other words, everything is OUR FAULT.

"See? These Mexicans are dead because of weapons sourced in the U.S. If it weren't for the U.S. and the Second Amendment, none of this would have happened."

Yeah, except the Obama regime specifically handed the weapons in question to the Mexican cartels, and then explicitly FORBADE the ATF agents from interdicting them.

Kids, we have to get our heads around the fact that the Obama regime is an enemy of this nation. They are not "us". They are not "on our side". These people are the sworn, declared enemy of this Republic, its constitution, and every single person who is loyal to the Republic and the constitution.

Additionally, any other sovereign nations that are allied with the United States are the ENEMY of the Obama regime, and, conversely, those nations and groups that are enemies of the United States are the allies of the Obama regime.

The Obama regime IS THE ENEMY. The Obama regime is the "black flag". They are engaging in operation after operation, be it Gunwalker, cultivated destabilization on behalf of the Muslim Brotherhood in more nations than I have fingers, overt support of Marxist factions in Honduras, surrendering Poland to Russia, handing Russia the U.K.'s missile codes, and on and on, that are diametrically opposed to the United States and her allies.

All of these actions are being taken IN THE NAME of the United States, but the Obama regime IS NOT the United States. The Obama regime is its own non-American Marxist entity that is in a state of war against the United States, its constitution, its economy and its people. This is the mother of all false flag operations, and Gunwalker is just one facet of that operation.



Obama a free-market believer??

With deteriorating economic conditions putting a damper on his poll numbers and jeopardizing his 2012 re-election prospects, Barack Obama now portrays himself as a free-market leader for a change.

Yet while he poses for pictures with CEOs and unveils a private-sector “jobs plan,” his administration remains fundamentally committed to sabotaging the American marketplace at every turn.

In North Carolina this week, Obama accepted the recommendations of his jobs council — corporate leaders who were asked to provide new economic ideas. What he got instead was a hodge-podge of recycled reforms — including an unspecified reduction in red tape, a pledge to expand financing for small businesses and another round of “energy efficiency” initiatives aimed at creating those “green jobs” he’s so fond of talking about.

“What we want for growth is that it be centered in the private sector,” Obama’s chief economist said earlier this month. “We’ve got to do what we can to get the private sector leading the recovery.”

Really? Obama certainly didn’t want the private sector “leading the recovery” when he pushed through a massive bureaucratic bailout shortly after taking office — nor did he want it “leading the recovery” when he scored new government rules over Wall Street.

Also, what about socialized medicine, the elimination of welfare reform and the bailouts of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Obviously the private sector wasn’t “leading the recovery” as it relates to any of those proposals either. And make no mistake — for all of his recent photo ops with corporate chieftains, Obama has absolutely no intention of letting the private sector lead the way now.

According to a recent National Economic Research Associates study, the regulatory assault on the energy industry planned by Obama’s EPA would destroy four private-sector jobs for every “green job” it creates. It would also raise the cost of electricity in this country by up to 23 percent...

“Just as our economy is beginning to climb out of the deepest recession since the Great Depression, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing a variety of new rules that will inevitably lead to large-scale unemployment and massive rate hikes over the next several years,” UMWA President Cecil Roberts said recently.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

A growing socialist mentality among Americans is the big threat

We could be seeing a paradigm shift in the way people view their social compact with government. More and more people believe that government exists not just to perform essential services as delimited in the Constitution, but as a grand equalizer of economic outcomes.

It's one thing to argue that those who earn more should pay a higher percentage of their earnings in income tax. But it's a completely different idea to suggest that the government should use the tax code and other legislative schemes not just to ensure sufficient revenues to operate the government, but to more equitably distribute people's remaining income -- or, possibly, assets.

This is not just a matter of semantics. In this new paradigm, some contend that irrespective of the government's operating needs, it has a moral right -- and a duty -- to proactively intervene to redistribute income.

I observe this latter attitude with increasing frequency. It's not just President Obama indicting corporations and "obscene profits" by saying that the wealthy should spread the wealth around and that at some point, people have made enough money.

It's liberals I encounter who are constantly complaining about the "largest wealth gap in our history" and blaming it on George W. Bush and the evils of capitalism.

In their disappointingly simplistic view (articulated in an email I received), the Bush tax structure created this "gap" by "transferring money from the middle class to the rich ... and transferring our debts to our grandchildren."

But wait. Under the Bush tax rates, higher-income earners paid a higher percentage of their income in taxes. Any transfer of wealth was from higher-income earners to lower-income earners. Plus, almost half the people don't pay income taxes at all, and some 60 percent take more from the government than they pay in.

I told the emailer he was factually wrong and also misguided to believe it is government's function to proactively redistribute wealth. (We're talking more than safety nets here, by the way.)

He replied, "Yeah, the CEO of Disney 'earned' $50 million last year without the help of government through the invisible hand of the market."

Note the palpable contempt. He and others convince themselves that government is greasing the skids for high-income earners, but what they're really angry about are the inherent disparities of outcomes under a free economic system. Whether or not they realize it, they don't much like capitalism, which is why they're always pushing us toward socialism.

These same people also seem to object to disparities of income between Americans and the rest of the world. They apparently believe it is morally wrong that we are more prosperous than other nations and consume more of the world's resources.

It only follows that we would detect a disturbing correlation between their anti-capitalist mindset and their attitude toward economic prosperity and even debt tolerance. Those who have a chip on their shoulder about capitalism and America's wealth don't seem to be nearly so anxious about the nation's growing debt crisis. They either naively assume it's not that bad or figure that even if it is, there's nothing wrong with America's getting its comeuppance. Maybe an economic meltdown would put us in our place -- and in the meantime, it might cause us to draw down our evil "military-industrial complex" and our warmongering arsenal.

I am not suggesting that leftists of this particular stripe wish economic harm on the nation, but I am saying they look admiringly at European socialism, with its perennial unemployment of 15 percent. I am saying that they believe the government should proactively redistribute wealth -- to a much greater extent than it is doing now. I am saying that they are wholly unbothered by the obvious unfairness that almost 50 percent of the people pay no income taxes. And I am saying that most of them either don't understand that their prescriptions to equalize outcomes rather than opportunity inevitably result in less for everyone or don't care because they believe it's preferable for everyone to have much less than it is for some to have a great deal more than others under a free system.

This kind of thinking is dangerous to a free and prosperous society, and as 2012 approaches, conservatives have to address it and start remaking their moral case for capitalism and liberty. Under this ever-softer society, that's quite a tall order.



Homosexual arrogance

They think the RC church should bend to them! They should all become Episcopalians. They would be welcome there and the "bells and smells" are the same. And you can wear GORGEOUS vestments!

By Jeff Jacoby

From Boston's South End, home to the Catholic parish of St. Cecilia, comes a different tale of misplaced outrage.

St. Cecilia's worshipers include a considerable number of gays and lesbians, many of whom are active in the church's Rainbow Ministry. According to its mission statement, the Rainbow Ministry works to "welcome lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Catholics to worship God and . . . to embrace Jesus' call to unconditional love." Its goal is to "help LGBT Catholics seek reconciliation with the Church to enrich a spirit-filled life."

St. Cecilia and its pastor, Rev. John J. Unni, are obviously sensitive to the difficulties faced by gays and lesbians who are Catholic, and want them to feel fully appreciated as members of the congregation. That is admirable as a matter of basic decency. It's also in keeping with church doctrine: The catechism of the Catholic Church expressly teaches that gays "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" and that "every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided."

But even as it enjoins goodwill toward homosexuals, the church firmly opposes homosexuality itself. The same section of the catechism describes "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" as "objectively disordered," and says that gay sex can "under no circumstances ... be approved."

So St. Cecilia plainly crossed a red line when it announced last month that it was planning a "Liturgy To Commemorate Boston Pride 2011," and invited "friends and supporters of the LGBT community to a Mass in celebration of Boston's Pride Month." After all, there is no way to square the church's condemnation of homosexual activity with a mass "in celebration" of Gay Pride Month. The Archdiocese of Boston ordered the parish to cancel the service -- and the result, predictably, has been angry indignation.

"I think that's horrible, just horrible, that they would cancel. What an abuse of authority," fumed Marianne Duddy-Burke, a gay Catholic activist. Charles Martel, co-founder of Catholics for Marriage Equality, went so far as to accuse the archdiocese of yielding to "a hatred for gay people."

Their anger may be sincerely felt. But denouncing a Catholic archdiocese for upholding Catholic standards isn't rational. The Catholic Church, like any great religion, is open to all who seek to be guided by its teachings. It can hardly be expected to discard those teachings for the sake of popularity or political correctness -- or to quell the outrage of parishioners who prefer a church more concerned with their self-esteem than with their spiritual well-being.



America’s Job Creators Face Uphill Battle

Two-thirds of business owners view the current period as a bad time to expand

President Obama recently commented, “I am concerned about the fact that the recovery that we’re on is not producing jobs as fast as I want it to happen.”

His promise, made in 2009, that if Congress passed the “stimulus” package unemployment would not rise above 8 percent, has yet to be fulfilled. In fact, it has been 28 straight months now that the unemployment rate has been at or above 8 percent. This is bad news for Americans, but also for America’s small businesses.

On top of high unemployment, the housing industry also continues to flounder as prices fall and foreclosures rise. And the No. 1 asset many entrepreneurs need to get their business off the ground is their home equity. “Before the financial mess hit, people would use their home equity to get a small business loan,” says Raymond Keating, chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council.

Since almost one in four homes is underwater — more is owed on their homes than what it’s worth — the reality of being unable to start a small business has hit a lot of homeowners hard. “The biggest hurdle to getting a small business off the ground is getting capital,” Keating says. “Capital can be hard to get even in good economic times.” But now, he says, it’s especially hard. “If you’re underwater, you’re not approved for a loan so you have to use your own cash.”

The housing crisis has hit some areas harder than others. Alyson Austin, spokeswoman for CoreLogic, a real estate data firm, says that the Northeast part of the country is doing much better because housing didn’t increase as rapidly as in the “sand states such as Nevada, Florida and California.” And she’s right. New CoreLogic data shows that in the first quarter of this year Nevada had the highest negative equity percentage in the nation with 63 percent of all mortgaged properties underwater.

But Keating says the economic impact facing small businesses spreads farther than a homeowner’s inability to acquire a loan. “Lots of small businesses are nervous about what is going on,” he says. “They are holding off.” Holding off on hiring, investing and growing. In a poll conducted by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), almost two-thirds of business owners view the current period as a bad time to expand, and 71 percent of those blamed the weak economy.

“So many things are pointed in the wrong direction right now,” Keating explains, “the cost of energy, the huge questions on the policy front, spending and the nation’s debt and the issues on the regulatory front like ObamaCare. We need to get back to something that gives confidence back to small businesses and entrepreneurs.”

The supposed recovery period is in its second year, yet small businesses have seen no relief and continue to struggle. “President Obama and his team have not given America’s job creators — small businesses — any legs to stand on during this recession,” says Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government (ALG). “Every part of this economy is a mess from high inflation and questionable monetary policy to Obama threatening to raise the tax rates. No small business can grow and produce jobs in this uncertain economy.”

America’s small businesses are not in a recovery period at all. And as long as they struggle to survive, the rest of the economy will as well. “Everything feeds off each other,” Keating says. “When you give proper incentives to job creators, you will see a flow of new jobs and then people can better afford houses and prices will once again rise.”



Muslim Rep Keith Ellison Conflates Christians And Jews With Jihadists

During an MSNBC interview, Representative Keith Ellison [who took the oath of office on a Qur'an] tried to draw some equivalency between Islamic jihadists and Christian and Jewish Americans.

Regarding GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain's debate statement, that he would permit Muslims in his cabinet only if they took some form of loyalty oath, Ellison stated, "Well, you got violent Christians and good Christians...You got violent Jews and good Jews. You got people of all...what he said about Muslims is true for every community."

We would expect nothing less than this type of double-talking takiyya from Mr. Ellison. His continued support for two groups, ISNA and CAIR [both unindicted co-conspirators in U.S. vs. Holy Land Foundation, the largest and most successful prosecution of American Hamas funders to date] mark him indelibly as an Islamist.

One measure of this is Ellison's obvious hate for Israel. He apparently doesn't even support the Jewish state's right to self defense, explaining in a video feed at a 2009 ISNA conference why he voted "present," rather than "yea or nay" to a House resolution in support of Israel's inherent right to defend itself against the Islamic jihad it has withstood since the country's inception. See his comical parsing on YouTube, here

In a recent video address to a CAIR conference, he said in part, "I am very very proud, very very honored that the Council on American Islamic Relations [CAIR] is continuing to do the excellent work around civil and human rights that you've been doing for so many years..." See here

We believe that Ellison's very words affirm the wisdom of Mr. Cain's statement, that some Muslim Americans must be kept as far as possible from the seat of government because their loyalty is to Shari'a and not the U.S. Constitution.




Just say no to implementing ObamaCare: "A key battleground is whether states will implement the law by creating government bureaucracies that Obamacare euphemistically calls health insurance 'exchanges.' Starting in 2014, these exchanges would enforce the insurance regulations that will make health care more costly and scarce, and will dole out the subsidies to private insurance companies that will add trillions to the national debt. Supporters have called exchanges 'the most important aspect' of the law. The Obama administration wants exchanges set up yesterday, but since it can create only a few exchanges itself by 2014, it is counting on states to help. States are under no obligation to create these bureaucracies, however, and many have wisely refused."

Another example of Leftist intellectual prowess: "Is glitter the left’s new tool to combat conservative values? Following Newt Gingrich’s recent bedazzling, Tim Pawlenty is the latest Republican to fall victim to being “glittered” by angry protestors. The former Minnesota governor was signing books at the America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) convention (where he also delivered a health care speech) in San Francisco when two gay rights advocates ambushed him. A pair of women dumped pink glitter and confetti on the governor demanding “Tim Pawlenty, where is your courage to stand? Stand for reproductive rights! Stand for gay rights!”

Free-market groups hail measures to reduce credit union red tape: "While politicians are decrying the lack of lending to small businesses, government red tape is preventing credit unions from coming to the rescue, note leaders of two prominent free-market think tanks. The Competitive Enterprise Institute’s John Berlau and the Heartland Institute’s Eli Lehrer applaud the Senate Banking Committee for its hearing today 'on arbitrary restrictions on business lending"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Why most of the public are in the mushroom club

(Kept in the dark and fed bullsh*t)

I really appreciate you reading my articles regularly. However, I have a confession to make: You will never read my best articles here or in any other publication. That’s a strange statement to make, but it’s absolutely true. I’ve written the articles in my mind years ago, but I’ll never put them down on paper. What are these articles about? They concern my experiences in D.C. working for a think tank and a lobbying firm. I wasn’t there long, but it was long enough for the confidentiality agreement to matter.

This isn’t true just of me; it’s true for all of D.C. The television news reports and op-ed columns never reveal the true face of Washington politics. The real D.C. is hidden behind a wall of silence and secrecy. There isn’t a soul in the city without a story to tell and a confidentiality agreement to protect it.

Aside from the legal problems, whistleblowing is political career suicide. The D.C. job market rewards those who can keep their mouths shut, and potential whistleblowers are carefully scrutinized. Job candidates are typically run through an ideological gauntlet. If a Congressman or lobbying group finds that one strongly disagrees with just 15% of their positions, there’s almost no way to get the job. Leaks here are a serious business, and trust is often more important than any other qualification.

During my time in Washington, I recall attending a mentoring session for young libertarians and conservatives. The speakers shared advice on a career in Washington. One suggestion was, “Do not write about politics, and do not have a blog. It’s the worst decision ever for your career.” And the speaker was absolutely correct. If someone searches your name online and finds that your political beliefs do not match their own, your chances of getting the job become practically zero. So, there are two options: don’t write at all; or write on topics that follow the party line. Otherwise, at best, one’s future holds a prestigious position as the director of communications for the National Association of Hubcap Distributors.

When one turns on the news or reads an article, the piece has already been filtered by these incentives. Anything worth saying can’t be said. And no one wants to write a real opinion – only the party line.

Furthermore, the risk/reward tradeoff for the whistleblower is extremely bad. If one breaks a story about the inside workings of a D.C. organization, the press gets an entertaining story for the next week. Everyone soon forgets about it and nothing changes for the better. However, the writer is left in a pile of legal trouble and facing career ruin. Unless one is exposing the crime of the century, it doesn’t pay to be the sacrificial lamb for the political entertainment “news.”

Well, surely someone has written on what happens behind the scenes. There are some revealing works out there. My favorite has to be the comedy Thank You for Smoking, a fictional story of a tobacco-industry lobbyist. One may watch the trailer and the whole movie in parts. (On a side note, it’s no coincidence that the story is “fictional.” Don’t forget the confidentiality agreements.)

My experience on K Street was frighteningly similar to Thank you for Smoking, but the film fell short on one way. It showed the tobacco industry as a manipulative organization conjuring questionable studies and manipulating the public at every turn. And many critics of the movie falsely believe that the movie is only a criticism of the tobacco industry. In reality, the exact same tactics are the standard from labor unions to your favorite cancer organization; everyone is overexaggerating their case and specializing in ways to manipulate the public.

D.C. as whole is simply a giant fraud and theater for the masses. None of it is genuine. Every speech, position, and research study is manufactured by some group of analysts and writers. This experience has forever twisted my perspective of politics. When I hear a president quoted – whether it’s JFK, Reagan, or Obama – I don’t think to myself, “Man, what a great, inspiring quote”. Instead I think, “Wow, what a great speech writer. If only his opponents were lucky enough to have the same team of writers.”

My disillusionment is at its worst near Washington’s tourist sites – particularly the statues with presidential quotes. The tourists read the quotes in awe and snap picture after picture. But there I am thinking about the absurdity of these monuments. The statues are built to remember a man, and the words carved below it aren’t even his own. I guess even in death, the charade must go on.



Open Letter to Dummo Obama

From Prof. Donald J. Boudreaux

In your recent interview with NBC News you explained that your policies would promote more private-sector job creation were it not for (as you put it) “some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.”

With respect, sir, you’re complaining about the source of our prosperity: innovation and the increases it causes in worker productivity.

With no less justification – but with no more validity – any of your predecessors might have issued complaints similar to yours. Pres. Grant, for example, might have grumbled in 1873 about “some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank that uses a modern safe and so employs fewer armed guards than before, or when you travel on trains which, compared to stage coaches, transport many more passengers using fewer workers.”

Or Pres. Nixon might have groused in 1973 about such labor-saving innovation: “You see it when you step into an automatic elevator that doesn’t require an elevator operator, or when you observe that polio vaccination keeps people alive and active without the aid of nurses and all those workers who were once usefully employed making iron-lung machines, crutches, and wheelchairs.”

Do you, Pres. Obama, really wish to suggest that the innovations you blame for thwarting your fiscal policies are “structural issues” that ought to be corrected?



Wisconsin: News Intern Harassed While Taping Public Protest (Graphic Language)

Warning! The video above contains graphic language and is not suitable for children

As we move closer to the inevitable passage of the state budget…and as the collective bargaining law dispute becomes resolved either via the Supreme Court or additional legislative action…as families across Wisconsin and the nation tire of the circus-like chaos in Madison… the protests are getting smaller, but much more intense.

From teacher walk-outs with their students, to doctors issuing fake sick notes, to ‘zombies’ disrupting a Special Olympics ceremony, The MacIver News Service has brought you the story from Madison, Wisconsin since the protests began in mid-February.

Tuesday afternoon we sent out an intern to gather video footage of the day’s protests. Several hundred had gathered, in public, on the steps of the Wisconsin State Capitol in anticipation of Tuesday night’s budget debate in the state assembly. The video captures what happened after our intern answered the simple question: “Who are you with?”

It was his second day in the office. We’re relatively sure he’s coming back tomorrow. But it looks like we may have to institute a buddy system so our vidographers do not venture into the crowd alone. We apologize for the foul language, but thought it important to present this footage, unedited.

So much for the new tone.



The Legal War over Voter Fraud

Even with the demise of ACORN, a lot of people are worried about voter fraud in the upcoming 2012 presidential election.

That's because the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now has not really gone away since two young conservatives posing as a pimp and prostitute administered a very painful video sting in 2009. ACORN has transmogrified into lots of little ACORN groups with misleadingly innocent names, such as Affordable Housing Centers of America (formerly ACORN Housing Corporation) and New England United for Justice.

Another reason to worry is that the ACLU is working overtime to curb laws designed to reduce illegal immigration and to require voters to present identification. Yes, you can't cash a check or open a bank account without a valid ID, but the ACLU thinks it is somehow "racist"; to ensure that only American citizens vote in our elections.

That's why on June 3 they filed a suit to halt Florida’s law shortening the early voter days from 15 to 8 before an election and tightening registration rules. The ACLU contends that requiring people to vote within about a week of the actual election day constitutes “voter suppression.”

If you think that's over the top, listen to plaintiff Arthenia Joyner, a Democrat state senator:

"It is un-American to make it a burden to vote. Too many people fought and died for this right. This is an abomination. And it's unconscionable."

It was only a few years ago that people were expected to vote on election day, and obtain absentee ballots if they couldn’t. Now it’s an “abomination” if they don’t get to vote two weeks ahead of time.

The law that Gov. Rick Scott signed is in part a reaction to Florida election officials in 2009 finding at least 888 phony voter registrations submitted by ACORN officials, including one alleging to be from the late actor Paul Newman. Arrest warrants were issued for 11 ACORN employees.

Florida is not alone. In 2007, Washington State filed felony charges against several ACORN employees and supervisors, alleging more than 1,700 fraudulent voter registrations, Fox News reported. In March 2008, a Pennsylvania ACORN employee was sentenced for submitting 29 fake voter registrations. In 2009, a Cleveland, Ohio ACORN employee was caught reregistering the same person 77 times.

Voter fraud investigations targeting ACORN were launched in 12 states: Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York. In September 2009, Congress voted to defund ACORN, three-quarters of whose 2009 budget of $24 million was composed of federal money, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, on the immigration front, the ACLU and other groups are challenging Arizona-type laws in Utah, Indiana, Alabama and Georgia.

In Alabama on June 2, both houses of the legislature passed a law that would require employers to check the legal status of new employees using the e-Verify system. Republican Gov. Robert J. Bentley signed the bill on Thursday, June 9.

The Alabama law would also allow police officers to detain motorists if they have a "reasonable suspicion" that they are here illegally. The ACLU said it will file a lawsuit challenging what they call an “extreme” and “draconian racial profiling law.”

On Wednesday, the ACLU and the Southern Poverty Law Center requested an injunction to stop an immigration law in Georgia pending the outcome of a lawsuit they filed the week before. Republican Gov. Nathan Deal signed the law in May, noting that it differs from the Arizona law that a U.S. District judge struck down in July 2010. The Obama Administration had requested an injunction against Arizona’s law, portions of which – including use of the e-Verify system – were upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 26.

The Georgia law, set to take effect July 1, has already caused some illegal immigrants to head back home, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The law says police can investigate the immigration status of suspects and take illegal immigrants into custody. It also makes it illegal to traffic in or transport illegal immigrants while committing another crime or to use fraudulent IDs when applying for a job.

In Indiana, an immigration reform law signed on May 10 by Gov. Mitch Daniels will take effect July 1. On May 25, the ACLU filed suit seeking a preliminary injunction.

The law, as summarized by WIBC in Indianapolis, “threatens the state tax credits of employers who knowingly hire illegal aliens, revokes state contracts with those companies, and denies unemployment benefits to illegal immigrants. It also ramps up penalties for crimes associated with illegal immigration, including fake ID's and the smuggling or harboring of illegals.”

In September 2009, after the ACORN scandal broke, Barack Obama was asked about it during an interview for a Sunday news show. Mr. Obama replied, “Frankly, it’s not something I’ve followed closely.” That’s odd given that Mr. Obama had an extensive association with ACORN. The Wall Street Journal’s John Fund noted that Mr. Obama’s ACORN-related activities included running a voter registration drive for Project Vote in 1991, training ACORN volunteers and representing ACORN in a 1995 case that forced Illinois to adopt the federal Motor Voter Law.

ACORN, which specialized in compiling voter registrations among minority groups – a good thing in and of itself but not when it’s done with rampant fraud – is still out there in different guise. Meanwhile, the ACLU is trying to take down state laws that would discourage illegal immigration and using false identification. If the ACLU prevails, it could unleash a tsunami of illegal aliens joining the voter rolls, which would benefit one political party in particular.

Given the fact that the Obama Administration is ignoring "sanctuary cities" that flout federal immigration laws and instead is going after states like Arizona that want to enforce the law, you have to wonder how seriously they take voter fraud.

If the question is qui bono? – to whose benefit? – the answer is pretty obvious.




WI: State Supreme Court upholds anti-union law: "Wisconsin's polarizing union rights law is set to take effect on June 29 after the state Supreme Court determined that a judge overstepped her authority when she voided the governor's plan to strip most public workers of their collective bargaining rights. The ruling Tuesday evening was a major victory for Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who said the law was needed to help address the state's $3.6 billion budget shortfall."

Vague law will hobble economy: "Back in February, President Obama stopped by the US Chamber of Commerce to talk up the economy. He urged the assembled CEOs to 'get off the sidelines and get in the game.' Their persistent complaint that uncertainty about new regulations discouraged investment and job creation was met with a presidential eye roll. In the White House view, the new health care overhaul and Dodd-Frank financial service regulation gave them all the certainty they needed. If the economy is currently enjoying the benefits of certainty, we should all be worried, not just the CEOs."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

America's drift into Fascism

Evidence that the growth of government is a one-way ratchet continues to mount in Washington, where President Obama's pieties about abiding by the rule of law are eclipsing "one word: plastics" as a punch line.

The day after he was inaugurated, Obama promised that the rule of law would be a touchstone of his presidency. Apparently this was not a solemn vow but rather a sop to those liberals and progressives who had fumed over the Bush administration's traducing of the Constitution. For eight years the printing presses of the left had been smoking with the heat generated by articles such as "Bush's War on the Rule of Law" (Harper's), "Cheney's Law" (PBS) and others far too numerous to list.

The brief against Bush encompassed numerous charges: his use of signing statements to provide a pretext for disregarding parts of certain legislation; the indefinite detention without trial of suspected enemy combatants in Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay; the use of military tribunals; the Patriot Act; his administration's use of warrantless wiretapping and extraordinary rendition; the use of national-security letters to comb through private information; and so on. Policies such as these "evoked the specter of tyranny," put America on the slippery slope to fascism, and were generally bad for children and other living things.

With Obama's election, the nation supposedly said goodbye to all that. The clouds broke, the fog lifted, and the sunlight of civil liberties once again bathed the nation in its golden hue. Except: Nothing like that happened. Instead, the Obama administration adopted every single one of the policies listed above. Some of the more principled progressives have voiced outrage and a sense of betrayal. The more partisan types have politely averted their gaze.

But Obama has not confined his disdain for the rule of law to the Bush inheritance. He has carved out new realms for it. Take Libya. The president started a war—or "kinetic military action"—without bothering to give Congress formal notification. The War Powers Resolution says a president may do something like that in exigent circumstances, but the action must be limited to 60 days. The administration has blithely let the deadline pass.

Last week, Virginia Democratic Sen. James Webb gave a stirring call to accountability: "Was our country under attack, or under the threat of imminent attack? Was a clearly vital national interest at stake? Were we invoking the inherent right of self-defense as outlined in the United Nations charter? Were we called upon by treaty commitments to come to the aid of an ally? Were we responding in kind to an attack on our forces elsewhere? … Were we rescuing Americans in distress? … No, we were not." The administration ignored Webb, too. Say what you will about the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq, at least he got congressional assent before launching it.

But that is not all. Consider the many waivers the administration has granted—around 1,500, though it is hard to keep up when the precise number grows so fast—to ObamaCare. Many of them—unions and the AARP, which supported ObamaCare, now have waivers from it—bear a distinctly political tinge. None of them bears the color of legitimacy: The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act contains no statutory provision for the granting of waivers to itself. Neither has the administration offered any rationale for the approval or denial of waivers, despite its claims to transparency, and FOIA requests, and lawsuits.

But that is not all, either: Remember how the administration gave precedence to the United Auto Workers' claims upon Chrysler over the claims of the company's secured creditors—a direct contravention of U.S. bankruptcy law. Or how it mau-maued BP into creating a government-administered compensation fund in advance of any judgments against it. Or its Orwellian reinterpretation of labor law to stop Boeing from moving a plant from Washington state to South Carolina.

Critics on the right accuse the administration of socialism, but its economic approach more closely resembles fascism properly understood—in which the means of production are privately owned but business decisions are centrally made through a policy of dirigisme. Socialism and fascism are incendiary words, tossed about by people who are upset that they have not gotten their way. That does not render them entirely inapplicable.



Democrat scum being protected

The same congressional panel that launched a preliminary inquiry into Weiner-gate this week has been diddling around with several other Democratic ethics scandals for years. These aren't foxes guarding the henhouse. They're sloths guarding the foxhole.

The House Ethics Committee is now reportedly probing into Twitter-holic Democratic New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's possible abuse of government resources while sending pervy messages and photos to young women across the country. The latest batch of Weiner's leaked social-media self-portraits -- more cheesecake than beefcake -- showed him in various states of undress at the congressional gym. From what other public buildings has Ick-arus tweeted his junk? And how much time on the public's dime did his government staff spend coaching Weiner girls to assist with damage control?

Don't expect an answer from the House ethics watchdogs until after Weiner's first child enters kindergarten. The wheels of justice grind more slowly there than a dial-up modem.

Weiner's dirty laundry is just the latest addition to a teeming heap of scandal. To wit: The committee still hasn't issued a final report into last year's reckless Capitol Hill predator du jour, former Democratic New York Rep. Eric Massa. He's the notorious creep who serially groped male staffers and subjected interns to "tickle fights" for months while then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi looked the other way.

Then there's Beltway swamp queen Democratic California Rep. Maxine Waters. Last summer, after a yearlong investigation, the House Ethics Committee charged her with three violations related to her crony intervention on behalf of minority-owned OneUnited Bank in Los Angeles. The panel accused Waters of bringing discredit to the House for using her influence to seek and secure taxpayer-subsidized special favors for the failing financial institution. Her Democratic guardians have successfully delayed a trial for 10 months.

Another California Democrat, Rep. Laura Richardson, has been under the House Ethics microscope since the fall of 2009. She defaulted six times on home loans, left a trail of unpaid bills in her wake and allegedly failed to report required information on her financial disclosure forms while receiving special treatment from a lender. While the panel cleared her of "knowingly" accepting favors, she is reportedly the subject of a second probe into using employees on government time to work on her political campaign.

The panel has also toyed for the past two years with Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s pay-for-play scandal involving charges that he or his staff sought to buy President Barack Obama's former Senate seat. A separate congressional ethics office referred the matter to the House ethics panel after it "learned that staff resources of the representative's Washington, D.C., and Chicago, Ill., offices were used to mount a 'public campaign' to secure the representative's appointment to the U.S. Senate." But Jackson's House ethics probe remains on ice while the feds chase former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was at the center of the scheme and remains on trial.

The House Ethics Committee suffers from dysfunction by design. It is chronically understaffed and underfunded. The panel most recently went without a staff director for four months. Its investigative backlog was compounded by the partisan-charged suspension of two staff attorneys last fall who were knee-deep in the Waters' probe. And the panel's ranking Democratic member, California Rep. Linda Sanchez, is bogged down with her own ethical conflicts of interest.

Sanchez's chief of staff, Adam Brand, is the son of the lawyer handling Waters' ethics defense. That lawyer, Stan Brand, also represented Sanchez and her sister, Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez, in a separate ethics case. The sisters engaged in smelly hiring shenanigans after an aide to Loretta embezzled money from the office account in 2006. Short of funds, Loretta "borrowed" three aides from Linda's staff. House rules ban members from paying people to do work in offices other than their own. Miraculously, Loretta's embezzling aide avoided jail time, and the Sanchez sisters escaped any sanctions for their payroll-sharing collusion. The House ethics opinion on the matter remains confidential.

Intended to boost voters' confidence in Congress (now at an all-time low), the committee's stubborn secrecy and predictable wrist-slap punishments (see "Rangel, Charlie") only make matters worse. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: House-soilers can't be cleaners. Voters, not Washington politicians, are the ultimate ethics committee.



Cuts can be done

John Stossel

America is falling deeper into debt. We're long past the point where drastic action is needed. We're near Greek levels of debt. What's going to happen? Maybe riots -- like we've seen in Greece? We need to make cuts now.

Some governors have shown the way. You know about Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Rick Scott, John Kasich, etc. But you probably don't know about Luis Fortuno.

Fortuno is governor of Puerto Rico. Two years ago, he fired 17,000 government workers. No state governor did anything like that. He cut spending much more than Walker did in Wisconsin. In return, thousands of union members demonstrated against Fortuno for days. They clashed with police. They called him a fascist

Fortuno said he had to make the cuts because Puerto Rico's economy was a mess. "Not just a mess. We didn't have enough money to meet our first payroll."

Fortuno's predecessors had grown Puerto Rico's government to the point that the state employed one out of every three workers. By the time he was elected, Puerto Rico was broke. So the new conservative majority, the first in Puerto Rico in 40 years, shrank the government. What was cut? "Everything. I started with my own salary."

The protesters said he should raise taxes instead of cutting spending. "Our taxes were as high as they could be, actually much higher than most of the country. So what we've done is the opposite." Fortuno reduced corporate taxes from 35 percent to 25 percent. He reduced individual income taxes. He privatized entire government agencies. "Bring in the private sector," Fortuno said. "They will do a better job. They will do it cheaper."

Fortuno's advice for leaders who want to shrink the state: "Do what you need to do quickly, swiftly, like when you take off a Band-Aid. Just do it. And move on to better things."

Canada did that years ago. When I think Canada, I think big government. I'm embarrassed that I didn't know that in the mid-'90s, Canada shrank its government. It had to. Its debt level was as bad as ours is today, almost 70 percent of the economy. Canada's finance minister said: "We are in debt up to our eyeballs. That can't be sustained."

Economist David Henderson, a Canadian who left Canada for the United States, remembers when The Wall Street Journal called the Canadian dollar "the peso of the north." It was worth just 72 American cents. "Moody's put the Canadian federal debt on a credit watch," Henderson said.

The problem, he added, was that Canada had a government safety net that was more like a hammock. "When I was growing up in Canada, people who went on unemployment insurance were said to go in the 'pogie.' You could work as little as eight weeks, taking the rest of the year off."

So in 1995 Canadian leaders cut unemployment benefits and other programs. It happened quietly because it was a liberal government, and liberals didn't want to criticize their own. The result was that Canada's debt stopped increasing. As the government ran budget surpluses, the debt went down.

"The economy boomed," Henderson said. "Think about what government does. Government wastes most of what it spends, and so just cutting government and having that money in the hands of people means it's going to be used more valuably."

Canada fired government workers, but unemployment didn't increase. In fact, it fell from 12 percent to 6 percent. Canadian unemployment is still well below ours. And the Canadian dollar rose from just 72 American cents to $1.02 today.

Canada also raised some taxes. But the spending cuts were much bigger, six to one: agriculture was cut 22 percent; fisheries, 27 percent; natural resources, almost 50 percent.

"We should learn from Canada's experience that you can cut government substantially," Henderson said. "It is so wasteful. There's so much to cut, without causing much real pain -- not causing pain, but helping your economy grow, helping people become better off."

Henderson added, "We need to move more quickly than the Canadians did. Unfortunately, we're moving more slowly than the Canadians did." If we're moving at all. While Canada thrives, we pour more money down the hole.




Obama’s economic experiment has failed: "A flurry of recent economic news –- especially the May jobs report –- confirms what many have feared for some time: This president’s leadership deficit has caused a disastrous jobs deficit, and where he has led, his policies have made things worse. The president clearly inherited a difficult fiscal and economic situation when he took office. But his response to the crisis has been woefully inadequate. The president and his party’s leaders have made it their mission to test the hypothesis that more government spending and greater government control over the economy can jump-start a recovery better than the private sector can."

The exceptional children of skilled immigrants: "Much of the debate over increasing legal immigration and work visas, such as the H-1B visa for highly skilled workers, has centered on the present benefits to the economy and technological development. But there is another long-run benefit that has been largely ignored: The children of highly skilled immigrants become exceptional Americans."

Winners (Romney, Bachman) And Losers In The GOP Debate: "The headline for the big GOP debate should read “ROMNEY SOLIDIFIES HIS STATUS AS FRONTRUNNER” but the appropriate sub-head may prove even more significant in the long run: “Bachmann Makes Energetic and Well-Received Debut.” At this point, no one should doubt that the feisty congresswoman from Minnesota will emerge as a major contender—certainly in Iowa (where she was born and raised, and where her evangelical fervor will rally Mike Huckabee’s currently unfocused cadres) and, if she wins there, then most likely in the rest of the country. It’s not that Bachmann delivered a brilliant or masterful or inspiring performance on the stage at St. Anselm College, it’s just that she so wildly exceeded expectations, especially from all those skeptics who wrote her off long-ago as a whining, unhinged Sarah Palin"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Government Causes Poverty

One Indian town ended up, by accident, without any local government. It happened after Indian bureaucrats decided to divide an existing Indian state in half, the NY Times reports:
"One half would revolve around the city of Faridabad, which had an active municipal government, direct rail access to the capital, fertile farmland and a strong industrial base. The other half, Gurgaon, had rocky soil, no local government, no railway link and almost no industrial base."

As an economic competition, it seemed an unfair fight. And it has been: Gurgaon has won, easily. Faridabad has struggled to catch India's modernization wave, while Gurgaon's disadvantages turned out to be advantages, none more important, initially, than the absence of a districtwide government, which meant less red tape capable of choking development."

Wow, even the New York Times says there is too much regulation. The article also notes that while the government didn't get in the way, it didn't provide basic services, either. Without a reliable electric grid, sewer system, post office, or even adequate policing, how could anything succeed?

Things succeed because companies build their own infrastructure. One company, Genpact has backup diesel generators capable of producing enough electricity to run the complex for five days... a sewage treatment plant and a post office, which uses only private couriers, since the local postal service is understaffed and unreliable. It has a medical clinic, with a private ambulance, and more than 200 private security guards and five vehicles patrolling the region...

"We pretty much carry the entire weight of what you would expect many states to do," said Pramod Bhasin, who this spring stepped down as Genpact's chief executive.

With less government, the city has thrived. The population skyrocketed from 100,000, when the local government was eliminated thirty years ago, to 1.6 million today. And there are now 26 shopping malls, seven golf courses and luxury shops selling Chanel and Louis Vuitton. Mercedes-Benzes and BMWs shimmer in automobile showrooms. Apartment towers are sprouting like concrete weeds, and a futuristic commercial hub called Cyber City houses many of the world's most respected corporations.



Another Obama half-truth

Leftists excel at those

Republican congressmen who attended the "frosty" meeting rolled their eyes when Mr. Obama told them federal income tax rates now are the lowest they've ever been, lower even than during the presidency of Ronald Reagan.

This was less untrue than, say, Mr. Obama's claims for the Chrysler bailout. For most of the Reagan presidency income tax rates were higher than they are now because Reagan inherited very high rates from Jimmy Carter.

But it still was untrue. When Ronald Reagan left office, there were just two income tax rates, 15 percent for those making less than $17,850 and 28 percent for those earning more than that. Today there are six rates, with the highest bracket paying 35 percent on income more than $379,150.



Obama finds a political soulmate

Elected just last month, as the new pitch person of the DNC, Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz has already been called out by four independent watchdog groups for outrageous mischaracterizations of the House GOP's Medicare reform plan.

Already throwing the flag on the chairman is the Washington Post's Fact Checker blog, the Associated Press, FactCheck.org, and PolitiFact.com. And, that's just the beginning. In addition, according to Politico.com:

She’s accused Republicans of wating to reinstate segregation and of waging a "war on women." She has asserted, somewhat nonsensically, that the GOP wants to make illegal immigration — by definition against the law — “a crime.” She’s also been mocked for driving a foreign car after pounding Republicans for not supporting the American auto industry.

But, the Democrat with the most at stake in 2012 thinks Wasserman-Schultz is doing a great job. Barack Obama's top political adviser, David Axelrod, told Politico that the White House was "pleased" with the DNC chairman's job performance.

For a White House that consistently misrepresents the truth about the economy, our borders, and even national security, the garbage coming out of the DNC is just more of the same. Instead of "change you can believe in" the 2012 Democrat slogan should be "Lying for Votes."



The Oedipal Left

By James Lewis

Sigmund Freud had a nasty mind. The question today is, was Freud's mind nasty enough? To understand the Oedipal Left, for example.

I've never known what to think about Freud's Oedipus myth, the uprising of the archaic sons to kill the father of the clan, and steal the women. It's all supposed to be unconscious, which makes it hard to tell if it's nonsense or not. Freud's idea of the Oedipus Complex was based of his lifelong study of dreams, especially his own. Or maybe he just had a nasty mind.

The one Oedipal drama I keep seeing in real life is the left. They just keep doing it over and over again, as if they're compulsively playing Oedipus Rex. Google shows 2,580,000 hits for the phrase "Kill your parents." It has more than 8,000,000 hits for "fxxx your mother." That doesn't sound like a conservative slogan. Was Oedipus a leftie?

The left is a huge, power-hungry, mass-manipulating, community disorganizing, grandiose, world-conquering movement, which always recruits its storm troopers from teenage males. When liberals are in power, so is sexual promiscuity. It's hard to avoid the suspicion that those "idealistic" rebels just want power and free sex, hetero, homo, cats or dogs. Like Anthony Weiner and Bill Clinton.

"Revolution" means overturning the existing order. That would be the "patriarchy," as the feminists like to call it, the Daddies of this world. When he was destroying Cambodia, Pol Pot sent all the teachers he could catch to the death camps. Today, a lot of bored teenagers in high school probably think that's a great idea. Off with the teachers! Down with authority!

When revolutionaries get their way they become Authority with a capital A. It's never the poor and the victim groups who get the benefits. It's the lefties themselves. Talk about unmitigated greed for power and goodies. The rationales for revolution keep changing, but the selfishness and power hunger are always the same.

Maybe Oedipus is the reason why the Left has such a bond with reactionary Islam, which also managed to destroy advanced civilizations after the 7th century: The Persian and Byzantine Empires, for example. Today Muslim suicide bombers are still dreaming of a Paradise filled with sex slaves, as soon as they've blown up some civilized people. Well, teens will be teens, even in 7th century Arabia.

Defiant posters of Che and Mao decorate dormitory walls all over the Western world. Both of those celebrated heroes of the left were cold-blooded killers, though Mao killed forty million more people than Che. But Che talked a good game about his desire to kill off the bourgeoisie...who are always, always just like their own parents. Those hero posters have been on those dormitory walls for decades, because nothing is more repetitive than Oedipal rebellion. Freud scores big on that one.

The left always claims to be new, but it's the oldest power trip in human history. Even monkey clans get together to overthrow the A males. On the left every traditional value is slandered, ridiculed, and finally made illegal.

The giveaway is absolutism. Rational people see pros and cons. The left only sees the Children of Light (themselves) against the Children of Darkness (everybody else). That's why killing comes so easily when the time comes. Satellite photos now show that North Korea has death camps for about 200,000 people. Everybody is just starved and worked to the limits, except for the Kim dynasty, who are the fatties.

No conservatives are as anti-science and anti-technology as the Green left. Global Warming megafraud is a typical product of their lock-step minds. It's planet-saving grandiosity, unbelievably expensive, shot through with corruption and double-dealing, and blatantly false. Mitt Romney believes in Global Warming because he's read about it in the paper. He can't actually have thought about it. It doesn't stand up to skeptical examination.

Conservatives are not against change. Conservatives love new things that are likely to be good. We love our computers. We love modern medicine and advances in beneficial technology. It's capitalism and free thought that keep changing things for the better. Conservatives always try to figure out which changes are good, and which ones are bad. The left infallibly makes the wrong choices. It's the "progressive" thing to do.

Example? The marvelous discovery of deep shale hydrocarbon deposits all over the world, and of technology that can turn them into a vast supply of clean natural gas. The left is desperately looking for excuses to block shale-based natural gas. If they can't stop it, they will try to tax it, and with any luck they will tax it to death. That's progress for ya.

It's the left that rants against our precious gifts from the Industrial Revolution, including abundant food production, medicines, and a thousand other useful inventions. The left is agin' it all, without ever thinking about costs and benefits. That is the mark of unreason.

Freud spent a lifetime studying the varieties of human irrationality. His answer was not to make people happy, but to make them into reasonable adults. At exactly the same time the Soviet Union pursued the New Soviet Man program, which was supposed to condition people to turn into superworkers who didn't eat too much. It's an interesting contrast between Freud and the Soviets.

China is building a new coal-fired power plant every day, and expanding its use of coal in steel-making. That's because steel cannot be smelted without coal, and other fuels don't burn hot enough. Even Lenin understood that. Today the left wants to kill off the cheap and abundant fuel that made the Industrial Revolution possible. This is mindless.

If you think about their list of issues, the left is opposed to every good, compassionate, and humane thing.

1. Item. Obama thinks the Constitution is too much of a barrier against his own off-the-wall brainstorms, which are always better than anything the founders dreamt of. But the founders knew about narcissistic Napoleon types, who always lead to disaster. They saw all that bloody head-chopping in the French Revolution and didn't like it. Then Napoleon, the "man on a white horse," rose to power from the chaos of revolutionary France, and went on to kill tens of millions of people from Spain to Russia. Not good.

But Obama took his "Audacity of Hope" slogan from Napoleon. He believes in an imperialistic creed with himself as l'Empereur.

2. Item. Sexual identity. Elementary school kids should be taught they aren't necessarily boys or girls. They could be "none of the above."

2. Item. Heroes. Americans used to admire Jefferson, Washington, Lincoln. Today we worship the grunge rock star of the week.

3. Item. Men, women, and power. Men used to vote and speak in the townhall meetings. They had public power. Women used to govern the home, including their husbands. Well, OK, let's have equality instead. But radical feminists demand, not equality, but gender favoritism in hiring, promotion, education, and media propaganda. (Except for Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann.)

4. Item. Race. African-Americans were treated dreadfully during slavery and Jim Crow. But a giant political movement, the Abolitionists, built up huge pressure to abolish slavery before the Civil War. Six hundred thousand Americans died in that war, and it's simply a lie that it wasn't fought about slavery. It was, both about slavery and the Union.

But today, fifty years after Martin Luther King, Obama wants more. His Third World ideology wants to pit all the "people of color" against all the palefaced oppressors. Obama doesn't stop with equality. He seeks retribution.

5. Item. Fantasy answers to non-existent problems. The whole ObamaCare debate was an example of fantasy-based legislation, totally ignoring little things like the Federal budget. The banner of universal health care is only about empowering the left. If the Democrats cared about health, they would have voted for Health Savings Accounts during the Gingrich Congress, fifteen years ago. But they don't. It's all Power to the People! As long as the People knuckle under to the new ruling class.

The Nazis, another romantic revolutionary gang, liked to shout that "Alles muss anders sein." Everything must be different. Everything must change.

So...I'm still a skeptic about Uncle Siggie's Oedipus Complex. But I do wish the left would stop making the case for Freud, over and over again. Tell them to stop it already!




More on Gurgaon: "Gurgaon is a bustling, flourishing testament to the power of good rules -- even when competing against areas with ‘better’ infrastructure. Tabarrok points out that for-profit corporations swiftly filled the ‘institutional vacuum’ left by the absence of government by investing billions in Gurgaon. Health clinics, electricity, water, roads, and a security force outnumbering the ‘real’ police are all provided privately. One leading Indian business magazine has ranked Gurgaon the number one Indian city to work and live"

TN: Appeals court upholds homeowner against Metro: "The state Court of Appeals has sided with a Nashville man who challenged a Metro board's denial of a permit to hold parties and other special events at his historic home in a residential neighborhood. The court upheld a 2009 ruling by Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Joe Binkley ... Binkley ruled that BZA members were annoyed by Demonbreun's appeals of their previous decisions to higher legal authorities, though they cited previous code violations and complaints from neighbors."

Fed meddling in health insurance rates: Wrong & will hurt consumers: "On May 19, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final regulation requiring that, starting on September 1, 2011, health insurers filing for an 'unreasonable' rate increase (one that exceeds 10 percent) must publicly justify their proposal, so that 'consumers [will] know why they are paying the rates that they are.' The problem is that the federal government has no legal authority to regulate health insurance rates. ... With no regulatory authority at all, HHS is trying to bully or shame health insurers into reducing their rate increases. The whole effort is an incredible exercise in chutzpah."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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)


13 June, 2011

In the last 10,000 years, humans have got smaller and our brains have shrunk

I suppose I should say a few words about the story below. The facts as given are sound but they omit to mention that the decrease in brain size in late prehistoric times was linked to known brain mutations (genes MCPH1 and ASPM) taking place at that time which seem to have led to an increase in IQ -- as indicated by the sudden arrival of early civilization in the Middle East. What presumably happened was an increase in the degree of folding in the brain, thus giving a bigger surface area even while overall size decreased. In short, human brains with the mutation became more efficient at that time.

And once civilization had arrived, selection for hunter characteristics (height, muscle etc.) diminished greatly, leading to a shrinking in those attributes. Social characteristics (e.g. verbal ability) were selected for instead

Having conquered Everest and landed on the Moon, it is tempting to think we are bigger and better than our ancestors. But on a purely physical basis, it seems, we just don’t measure up. Mankind is actually shrinking.

Cambridge University experts say humans are past their peak and that modern-day people are 10 per cent smaller and shorter than their hunter-gatherer ancestors.

And if that’s not depressing enough, our brains are also smaller.
The findings reverse perceived wisdom that humans have grown taller and larger, a belief which has grown from data on more recent physical development.

The decline, say scientists, has happened over the past 10,000 years. They blame agriculture, with restricted diets and urbanisation compromising health and leading to the spread of disease.

The theory has emerged from studies of fossilised human remains found in Africa, Europe and Asia. The earliest, from Ethiopia, date back 200,000 years, and were larger and ‘more robust’ than their modern-day counterparts, said Dr Marta Lahr, an expert in human evolution.

Fossils found in Israeli caves and dating from 120,000 to 100,000 years ago, reveal a people who were tall and muscular, a pattern that continued uninterrupted until relatively recent times. An average person 10,000 years ago weighed between 12st 8lb and 13st 6lb. Today, the average is between 11st and 12st 8lb.

Dr Lahr, who last week presented her findings to the Royal Society, Britain’s most prestigious scientific body, described the changes as ‘striking’. ‘We can see that humans have continually evolved but in body size it is not until the last 10,000 years that they have changed substantially, so the question is why this should have happened.’

The male brain of 20,000 years ago measured 1,500 cubic centimetres. Modern man’s brain averages just 1,350 cubic cm – a decrease equivalent to the size of a tennis ball. The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion. It doesn’t mean we are less intelligent – rather we have learnt to make the best use of our resources.

Dr Lahr said: ‘Over evolutionary time there would have been huge energy savings in making the brain smaller but more efficient – as we see today with computer processors.’

Robert Foley, a Cambridge University professor of human evolution, said: ‘Becoming human, in an evolutionary sense, is a continuous and gradual process. Our species, rather than being a fixed entity, is more like a piece of putty, changing shape and dimensions all the time.’



Deadly Prescription Drug Shortages Caused by Regulation

Doctors at the Johns Hopkins cancer center are rationing cytarabine, a drug used to treat leukemia and lymphoma. They are literally deciding who will live and who will die. The drug is also in short supply at the Stanford, Wisconsin and Nebraska university medical centers. Large medical centers, in Oklahoma and Maryland have completely run out.

All of this might be dismissed as an unfortunate turn of events were it not for the fact that a lot of other drugs are also in short supply. About 90 percent of all the anesthesiologists in the country report they are experiencing a shortage of at least one anesthetic, for example. Drug shortages are also endangering cancer patients, heart attack victims, accident survivors and a host of other ill people. The vast majority involve injectable medications used mostly by medical centers, in emergency rooms, ICUs and cancer wards.

Currently, there are about 246 drugs that are in short supply and as the chart shows, the number has been growing for some time. There were 74 newly reported drug shortages in 2005; the number dipped slightly to 70 in 2006, then rose to 129 in 2007, 149 in 2008, 166 in 2009, and 211 in 2010.

So what’s going on? Industry insiders point to numerous causes of the problem, including the fact that the generic drug market may be inherently more volatile than the market for brand-name drugs. Others point to supply chain problems. Then there is government regulatory policy.

Output Controls. The Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been stepping up its quality enforcement efforts — levying fines and forcing manufacturers to retool their facilities both here and abroad. Not only has this more rigorous regulatory oversight slowed down production, the FDA’s “zero tolerance” regime is forcing manufacturers to abide by rules that are rigid, inflexible and unforgiving. For example, a drug manufacturer must get approval for how much of a drug it plans to produce, as well as the timeframe. If a shortage develops (because, say, the FDA shuts down a competitor’s plant), a drug manufacturer cannot increase its output of that drug without another round of approvals. Nor can it alter its timetable production (producing a shortage drug earlier than planned) without FDA approval.

Even the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has a role — because minute quantities of controlled substances are often used to make other drugs. This is the apparent reason for a nationwide shortage of ADHD drugs, for example, including the generic version of Ritalin. And like the FDA, DEA regulations are rigid and inflexible. For example, if a shortage develops and the manufacturers have reached their preauthorized production cap, a manufacturer cannot respond by increasing output without going back to the DEA for approval.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) also has a role – levying large fines for “overcharging,” forcing some companies to leave the generic market altogether.

Price Controls. Also contributing to the problems of many facilities is a little known program that forces drug manufacturers to give discounts to certain end users. The federal 340B drug rebate program was created in 1992 to provide discounted drugs to hospitals and clinics that treat a high number of indigent patients, clinics treating patients on Medicaid, hospitals and clinics in the Public Health Service and certain Federally Qualified Health Centers (more listed here). Currently, the law requires drug companies to provide rebates of 23.1 percent for brand drugs; and 13 percent for generic drugs off of their average manufacturer’s price on qualifying outpatient drug use. States have the right to negotiate further discounts and actual rebates negotiated are typically much steeper than the federal requirement.

Economics teaches that when prices are kept artificially low, shortages develop. People cannot get all of the care they try to obtain at the existing rate. Also, regardless of the apparently multiple causes of the shortages, certain patterns tend to emerge. People respond to persistent shortages by doing things that invariably make the problem worse.

Stockpiling. Buying organizations will typically respond by trying to stockpile quantities of drugs where supply is uncertain. That is, they will try to hoard more of the drugs than they ordinarily would keep in inventory in order to try to make sure they are available when needed. As the Healthcare Alliance Report explains, “drug shortages have been exacerbated by stockpiling on the part of providers,” who are trying to “protect themselves from the instability of the drug supply chain by placing orders that exceed normal requirements.”

Cascading Effects on Other Markets. Another consequence of shortages is that the effects in one market begin to cascade to other markets. In general, when hospitals cannot get a drug, they will turn to the next best alternative drug that creates the least adverse effects for patients. But as a Premier healthcare alliance analysis explains, when a shortage of one drug causes increased demand for a therapeutically similar product, the substitute product may also then be in short supply because it “is not normally produced in quantities sufficient to meet unanticipated market needs.” This scenario occurred last year with the morphine and subsequent hydromorphone shortages.

Solutions. Again, the Obama administration did not create this problem. But up till now, its preference for regulation rather than market forces to solve safety problems is making the entire health care system less safe than it otherwise would have been.



Reactionary Progressives

They desparately hang on to the status quo

No one seems to be more conservative and backward-looking than the modern day, self-described "progressive." Their modes of thought and rhetoric reflects what they themselves would call a reactionary conservatism if spotted in others. Today I will explore three of these modes:

1. Argument by Appeals to Authority

2. Complete lack of imagination when it comes to social change

3. A profound intellectual inconsistency

* Appeals to Authority

The most obvious example here is the "scientific consensus" on "climate change" (what they used to call Global Warming). Perhaps there is one – progressives keep insisting that there is one. Nevertheless, the idea of human-made carbon emissions changing the planet's climate seems both plausible yet conter-intuitive when one considers other often-extreme changes in climate only over the past thousand years, not to mention in Earth's overall history.

Their position would be FAR more credible if almost all of research on the topic would be privately funded, not government-funded, and that the scientists involved worked in non-State institutions. Oftentimes, the most progress in science was accomplished by those who worked outside of the System and dissented from the status quo. As long as science is directly or indirectly funded by the State, why should we believe scientific claims? "Because scientists say so!" isn't much of an argument.

This isn't the only example of the Progressive Appeal to Authority. They blame "corporate greed" and rich people for the world's problems, but when a rich guy says that taxes should be raised, progressives treat him as a wise, public-spirited man of conscience who we should believe. And, they are often at best skeptical toward religion, but will gladly trot out pastors who claim that Jesus wanted higher taxes and more regulation.

"Question authority" is not part of the Progressive vocabulary. At least not anymore.

* Lack of Imagination

Progressives seem more interested in just throwing tax dollars into public education bureaucracies, and doing nothing about overpriced universities. They'd rather coerce people into overpriced health insurance schemes than give doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies the freedom and flexibility to provide quality care at lower prices.

They are more concerned with the nation's economy as measured by "Gross Domestic Product" in terms of dollars, than they are with allowing individuals to start their own businesses and to make exchanges by non-dollar means.

In other words, their institutions and insistence on regulatory control of our lives and the economy is more important than the idea that these institutions might not actually work. In other words, Progressives are resistant to change.

* Intellectual Inconsistency

The most famous inconsistent position of Progressives is that women should be "free to choose" abortion, but that women (or anyone else) can't buy a gun to protect herself, smoke marijuana, give money freely to a political candidate, or send kids to a school of her choice. While Progressive causes on behalf of gay rights, women's rights, and civil rights for minorities may be admirable, they meanly seem to want mere "equality" for these groups, NOT more freedom.

Perhaps the most significant inconsistency is the Progressive view of the environment and economy. They constantly speak of "jobs" and believe that economic "stimulus" can be achieved by creating money through increased government spending.

This is inconsistent with the environmental stewardship they claim they want. Creating money out of nothing encourages consumers to spend money, and for investors to invest money, they didn't earn. The obsession with home ownership is just one example of what can happen. When homes are built that people can't afford, the earth's raw resources are taken to build it, and the earth's energy supplies are similarly taken.

Wouldn't it have been better for the planet for the home buyer to have stayed in his existing rental residence, then consume more resources – with unearned money – to build a house he didn't need?

Consumerism, environmentalism, and inflationary policies don't mix. Progressives can't artificially overheat the economy and then blame business for the resulting emissions. The truly environmentally-friendly economy is the free economy. Without the promise of monetary inflation, individuals would have greater incentive to make more efficient use of the earth's resources.




MI: TSA “apologetic” for patdown of disabled man: "A Detroit father said agents with the Transportation Security Administration singled out his special-needs son for a pat-down while the family was headed to Disney World, an incident that the TSA admitted was a 'case of bad judgment.' David Mandy said agents at Detroit Metro Airport took his son Drew, 29, and asked him about the padding underneath his pants, which turned out to be adult diapers. Drew, who is severely mentally disabled, had trouble understanding the agents’ orders because his family said he has the mental capacity of a 2-year-old. ... The agents confiscated a six-inch plastic hammer, something Drew had carried with him for 20 years for comfort [and] ... called it a security threat."

Freedom must include right to die: "Who owns your body? Judging from our nation’s body of law, the ruling class wrongly believes the government does. However, you own your body and, with that ownership, you have a God-given natural right to do what you will with it, even if that means ending your life."

Virginia is not for small businesses: "No matter how bad the economy gets, governments at all levels will always put their own petty authority ahead of productive market activities. An example is the Batesville Store in rural Albermarle County, Virginia, which was closed — without notice or due process — by a local bureaucrat who decreed the store, which was being used primarily as a restaurant and live music venue, had too many seats."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

More on the "student loan" SWAT raid at Stockton, CA

I originally posted a report on this on EDUCATION WATCH, on 9th. I headed the story: "CA: An education Dept. SWAT raid???". I added the subhead: "SWAT teams have become America's Taliban. They can brutalize you without trial and on suspicion only. Now even the Education Dept. is deploying them"

Clearly, what troubled me was the fact of the raid, not its justification. I did note the official claim that the raid was "not related to student loans".

Yesterday on DISSECTING LEFTISM, I posted a wide-ranging post about the steady transmogrification of the USA into a police state. In that report the claim was repeated that the raid was related to student loan repayments. I included that despite the official denials. Anybody who takes official denials at face value is naive, in my opinion. The claim that student loans were the issue apparently came from the man who was raided and I make no apology for preferring his word over the word of anybody in the Obama administration.

A regular reader of this blog has however been digging further into the matter and offers some interesting observations. I reproduce his comments below. You will note that the reason for the raid given on the search warrant has been deleted. That seems to me to be remarkably poor practice and great grounds for suspicion of impropriety or folly. Until that part of the document is revealed, nothing is certain about the motive for the raid.

You will also note my reader's conclusion that the raid WAS related to student loans -- albeit the fraudulent obtaining of them rather than being in default on repayments. One wonders how that squares with the statement by U.S. Department of Education spokesman Justin Hamilton that the search was "not related to student loans". Dishonesty abounding is what I see.
As recently pointed out by no less than eminent sociologist Peter Berger, symbols of tyranny are on the rise in America -- such as the body pat downs at airports, the legal "degradation rituals" of putting criminal suspects through a "perp walk" even though there is supposedly a presumption of innocence, the revival of old fashioned "chain gang" prisoner work crews, and the arrangements of Congressional hearings where the interrogators sit on raised platforms over the "serfs" who are summoned to appear before them.

Of greater concern are the reported tragic cases of SWAT team raids where nervous police have targeted the wrong person and ended up killing them.

But the recent report at NetRightDaily.com is also symbolic of a widespread paranoia initially triggered by liberal-tabloid TV broadcast media that spreads virally through both Right and Left-wing websites without any fact checking on the truth.

Let's take a look at the case in Stockton, California where KXTV Channel 10 in Sacramento initially reported that a local police SWAT Team had raided a home purportedly because the "estranged wife" of the male occupant of a home had failed to pay student loans.

First, I called the Stockton PD and they told me they only had a backup "black and white" unit at the scene and that the raid was conducted by theFederal Office of Inspector General (OIG) acting on a search warrant. The Stockton PD public affairs officers told me that an unpaid student loan would be a civil, not criminal, matter and would not ever trigger a police raid on a home.

I checked online and KXTV had already issued a correction on their online webpage indicating that the raid was not by the Stockton Police but they stuck to their erroneous story about an unpaid student loan as the legal grounds for the raid.

I then found online the actual Search Warrant issued by U.S. Magistrate Judge Gregory G. Hollows on June 3.

I had a retired prosecutor friend of mine look at the warrant. Here is what he indicated: He noted that the Search Warrant is missing the statement of the Affiant (officer who describes the basis for why the warrant is necessary). This statement should include a factual rundown of the alleged criminal activity, how the activity was executed, and why the criminal activity is reasonably ties to the suspect, etc.

Later, the Inspector General's Office released a statement that the raid did not involve a mere unpaid student loan but a case involving student aid "fraud, bribery and embezzlement."

This squared with what both the Stockton PD and my prosecutor friend told me. He said that his reading of the warrant and his experience suggests that the suspect was using phony I.D.'s and documents to obtain a large number of student loans. "The total amount of the student loans obtained probably constitutes a very significant amount of money, which is what triggered such a major response for serving the warrant," my source said. He added that it is "just a guess, but I'll bet the figure is in the millions. It also may be part of a larger ring."

My prosecutor source also said he doubted whether you could find a judge anywhere that would issue a "no knock" search warrant on a civil matter of an unpaid student loan, which would be a violation of the 4th Amendmentagainst illegal searches and seizures.

The alleged female defendant in this case was not at home at 6 a.m. and no one reported whether she had fled, been detained and was being held in jail, or had failed to appear or produce records in response to a bench warrant. It later was reported in the media that the alleged victim of the raid, a male ex-spouse, was also named as a suspect in the case.

Coincidentally, I also found online that on June 8 in South Carolina a different woman had pled guilty of student loan fraud she had pulled off while an inmate at the Leath Correctional Institute in Greenville, South Carolina. She used phony I.D.'s to apply for 23 student loans totaling $467,500 while working as an inmate in the educational department of the prison.

Apparently under the Obama Administration, student loans are so easy to apply for if you use a false ID that it is being used as a form of welfare. My guess is that there is a widespread informal criminal network involved with the Internet being the facilitator both with how to apply for student loans and how to pull the crime off.

Coming back to the situation in Stockton, it is now apparent that the raid involved gathering information about stolen IDs used to obtain fraudulent student loans. The media story about a raid aid on an ex-spouses home for unpaid student loans was in error. And the so-declared victim boyfriend was an apparent accomplice in this case. How much more could you get wrong in a news story?

The initial media story of the Stockton SWAT raid was overblown but was great "news" for a slow TV news day. It resonated with a fearful audience overloaded with debts.

I followed up on the story and could not find one media source that has come out with the true context of the SWAT raid in Stockton.

In a scene from some sort of parallel universe, coincidentally a Florida couple that had erroneously had their house foreclosed on by a bank were able to secure a court judgment to "raid" branch of the Bank of America to seize furniture, computers and cash on the premises to recover their legal fees. The legal system in the U.S. isn't entirely broken or corrupted.

There is a bigger story here about institutional corruption that breeds both loan fraud and police raids, albeit legal. What the Stockton SWAT case reflects is the metastasizing of a government loan program into what political scientist Walter Russell Mead calls a Great White Hope, then into a Great White Father, then into a Great White Elephant, and finally aGreat White Shark. At the "shark" stage of such government programs they turn criminal and deadly. Recipients turn into criminal plunderers of the system and those that administer the program have to turn into police or hire paramilitary units to keep the criminality in check. But the criminality is so widespread that they mainly focus on only the most flagrant violators involving the largest sums of money.

This is reminiscent of what we just experienced with the sub-prime loan scandal and Bank Panic of 2008, only with foreclosures instead of police raids. There is an institutional basis to both. This is what we can expect with Obamacare.

Here we seem to be facing what historian Klaus Bringmann describes in his book A History of the Roman Republic where free distribution of grain hastened the collapse of the empire.


Sarah Palin email frenzy backfires on her media antagonists

This whole affair is extraordinary. When have all the emails of any other politician been released to the public? What a wonderful precedent it sets, however. It should now be possible to demand ALL the emails of ANY politician! I doubt that many of the current crop of Democrat politicians could survive that!

The trove of more than 13,000 emails detailing almost every aspect of Sarah Palin’s governorship of Alaska, released late on Friday, paints a picture of her as an idealistic, conscientious, humorous and humane woman slightly bemused by the world of politics.

One can only assume that the Left-leaning editors who dispatched teams of reporters to remote Juneau, the Alaskan capital, to pore over the emails in the hope of digging up a scandal are now viewing the result as a rather poor return on their considerable investment.

If anything, Mrs Palin seems likely to emerge from the scrutiny of the 24,000 pages, contained in six boxes and weighing 275 pounds, with her reputation considerably enhanced. As a blogger at Powerline noted, the whole saga might come to be viewed as “an embarrassment for legacy media”.

Mrs Palin, who suddenly resigned as Alaska governor in July 2009, is no longer a public official. She holds no position in the Republican party. Despite the media hubbub that surrounds her every move, she is unlikely to be a candidate for the White House in 2012.

She is, however, viewed with a kind of horrified fascination by many in the media, who faithfully records everything she says and does while at the same time decrying her as ignorant and even evil.

Whether or not she runs for the White House – and the solid consensus among Republican leaders is that she won’t – the scramble over the Palin emails confirms her status as a pivotal figure in the race to challenge President Barack Obama next year.

It comes at a moment when the battle for the Republican nomination appears set to be transformed by the late entry of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, a social conservative and Palin ally who could almost immediately leap to the front of a currently lacklustre field.

Sources close to Mr Perry have confirmed that he is “highly likely” to announce a presidential run in the coming days. Intriguingly, they have also hinted at a something they believe would increase immeasurably Mr Perry’s chances of winning the White House – an endorsement from Mrs Palin.

On policy, Mrs Palin and Mr Perry, who succeeded George W Bush in 2000 and has since become the longest-serving governor in Texas history, are in almost perfect alignment. In addition, they are both beloved of the Tea Party, highly suspicious of Washington and physically attractive (Mr Perry is often likened to the Marlboro Man), charismatic figures.

Mrs Palin has repeatedly said that she believes Mr Obama can be defeated and that she will do everything to achieve that. With her popularity among independent voters very low, despite the intensity of her core support, throwing her weight behind a stronger candidate would be a better way of preserving her political capital and earning power than being one of the losing candidates in the Republican primaries.

The notion of Mrs Palin as White House kingmaker would have seemed wildly improbable if anyone had raised it before August 2008.

It was then that she was catapulted to international fame by Senator John McCain’s surprise decision to make her his vice-presidential running mate. Her reaction? “Can you flippinbelieveit?!”

This was a world, as the emails reveal, in which the then Alaska governor fretted about things like there being alcohol in her official residence, that might be a temptation to the teenage friends of her children.

In May 2007, she sought help from her staff in keeping the alcohol in the governor’s mansion away from young people, stating that it should be boxed up and “removed from the People’s House” – both for practical reasons and as a statement about her administration.

“Here’s my thinking: with so many kids and teens coming and going in that house, esp during this season of celebrations for young people – proms, graduations, etc, I want to send the msg that we can be – and ‘the People’s House’ needs to be – alcohol-free. There’s a lot of booze there – its too accessible and may be too tempting to any number of all those teens coming and going.”

In a February 2007 exchange, one adviser recommended that when she was in Washington she meet Pete Rouse, a Senate official who had lived in Alaska. “He’s now chief-of-staff for a guy named Barack Obama,” the aide wrote, adding that Mr Rouse “wants to help Alaska however he can”. Far from shrinking at the idea of conferring with a Democrat, Mrs Palin replied: “I’m game to meet him.”

The emails will finally confirm – in all but the darkest recesses of the world of Left-wing conspiracy theories – that Mrs Palin is, in fact, the mother of her youngest son Trig, who has Down’s Syndrome.

After relentless promotion by Andrew Sullivan, the British blogger who now works for Daily Beast/Newsweek, of the proposition that the mother was in fact Mrs Palin’s daughter Bristol, a teenager at the time, the subject had become part of mainstream debate.

The emails show Mrs Palin’s determination to protect Bristol but also her desire for a degree of privacy. “I wish I could shame people into ceasing such gossip about a teen, but I can’t figure out how to do that,” she wrote.

Communications from her children and husband make her family appear close and loving. An email from Bristol, referring to her younger sister, said: “Hello Mother, Um, I’m sitting in library and I really thing you need to get Piper a cell phone!! Wouldn’t that be so adorable! She could text me while she was in class!! It’s a done deal right?! Perfect! Ok, I will talk to you later and I need some cash flow! Love ya!”

To an extent, the emails remind Americans of the person they saw take the state at the Republican National Convention in Minnesota nearly three years ago – refreshing, plain-speaking, open and uncomplicated.

Since then, her image has hardened into one of a brittle, even paranoid, politician who seethes with resentment, feels aggrieved and entitled and is intent on pursuing celebrity even at the expense of her family.

Mrs Palin as a person has become so remote that it is hard for to assess how much, if any, of that widely-held caricature has a basis in truth. The email release could mark the end of a chapter of what conservatives have termed “Palin Derangement Syndrome”. Her enemies in the media appear to have overplayed their hand.

Expressing a sentiment that will resonate with many, Greta Van Susteren, a Fox News anchor who is close to Mrs Palin, argued that she had been subjected to “a media colonoscopy” by news organisations on “a mission to destroy”.

With a film entitled The Undefeated, chronicling Mrs Palin’s rise to prominence, about to air, the former Alaska governor is doubtless hoping that harsher perceptions of her can be blunted.

Probably the person who has damaged her most, apart from perhaps the CBS anchor Katie Couric who elicited blank stares when she asked what Mrs Palin read, was Tina Fey, the Saturday Night Live comedienne and impersonator.

It was Fey who seared into the popular imagination the Palin phrase: “I can see Russia from my house!” Mrs Palin had never said any such thing but it encapsulated the feeling that she was frivolous and lacked any foreign policy credentials.

Three days later, a staffer called Patrick Galvin emailed Mrs Palin saying: “My suggestion is you offer to go on SNL and play Tina Fey, and you interview her as she plays you.”

Fey’s impersonation was so powerful that the two women are inseparable in some minds. Fox News, for which Mrs Palin works on a lucrative contract as a commentator, recently aired a picture of Fey instead of Mrs Palin by mistake. Perhaps now might the time for Mrs Palin to take up Mr Galvin’s suggestion.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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

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


11 June, 2011

Police State Brutality: On The Rise

The next door to be violently knocked down could very well be yours. Innocence of any offense is no protection

Earlier this year in Tucson, Arizona a shooting rampage targeting U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords made international news – and prompted a coordinated effort to demonize Tea Party supporters (and free speech itself).

Without knowing the details of the case, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik immediately blamed the shooting on “the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government.”

“The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous,” Dupnik said, calling Arizona “a mecca for prejudice and bigotry.”

Obviously, the world quickly learned that Dupnik was flat out wrong in his assessment of the situation. The violence in Tucson was the product of a deranged madman – not a discernible ideology. But that didn’t stop Democratic leaders like U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn from saying that government should “rethink the parameters of free speech” in the wake of the shooting.

Five months after the Giffords’ tragedy, another fatal shooting took place in Tucson – only this one didn’t make international headlines. It has also failed to produce so much as a peep of disapproval from those who were so outraged earlier this year.

On May 5, 2011 – deputies and “operators” of the Pima County Sheriff’s Office raided the home of 26-year-old Jose Guerena, a U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq in 2003 and 2005. Having just fallen asleep after working the night shift at a local mine, Guerena was roused by his wife, Vanessa – who saw a man with a gun outside of the couple’s bedroom window. Thinking his home was being invaded, Guerena grabbed his rifle.

What happened next?

SWAT “operators” – executing a narcotics warrant – broke into Guerena’s home and fired 72 rounds within a matter of seconds, hitting him 22 times. Guerena’s five-year-old son, Joel, watched his father die. Initially, Pima County Sheriff’s investigators said that Guerena had fired his weapon at police officers. That report turned out to be patently false. In fact, Guerena never removed the safety from his rifle.

Also Guerena’s wife is adamant that the officers did not identify themselves as law enforcement agents until after the raid was completed. No drugs were found in the home – and it was later revealed that Guerena’s brother was the real target of the investigation.

Sadly, these fatal mistakes are occurring with increasing frequency. Last September in Utah, a SWAT team fatally shot Todd Blair three times in the head and chest during a hastily-planned raid – even though he wasn’t the person sought by the narcotics warrant. Last May in Detroit, 7-year-old Aiyana Jones was shot and killed while sleeping on the sofa during a raid filmed by reality TV cameras.

Part of the problem is obviously the vast expansion of the police state in America. According to Americans for SWAT Reform, more than 50,000 raids take place annually in the United States. Thirty years ago, there were less than 3,000 raids a year.

Another contributing factor is the steady militarization of local law enforcement.

“The war on drugs has done incalculable damage to the character of law enforcement by encouraging police officers to forget they are civilians,” writes David Rittgers, a legal analyst at the Cato Institute who served three tours in Afghanistan.

“When police officers refer to their fellow citizens as civilians and mean to exclude themselves from that category, they’ve mentally leapt from enforcing the law to destroying the enemies of the state,” Rittgers continued. “That’s incompatible with a free society.”

Also, the definition of what constitutes a “SWAT-worthy” offense has broadened considerably – as multiple federal agencies now reserve the right to knock down your door for virtually any reason.

For example, earlier this week a SWAT team raided a home in California – roughing up a man whose estranged wife had failed to pay back her student loans. What agency issued the warrant for this raid? The U.S. Department of Education – which recently purchased more than two dozen 12-gauge shotguns to help prevent “waste, fraud, abuse and other criminal activity involving federal education funds, programs and operations.”

Government apologists can deny it all they want, but the fact is that we are witnessing a massive build-up of the American police state at all levels of government – with repercussions that diminish our liberties and threaten our very lives.

After all, the next door to be knocked down could very well be yours.



Affordable Housing Means Your House Is Worth Less

Consumer advocates have their priorities backwards

Martin Luther King famously once proclaimed, “I have a dream, that one day my children would not be judged by the color of the skin, but by the content of their character, and that they would have a right to a home at an affordable price.”

Okay, that’s not exactly what he said. But an unusual coalition of financial institutions and community housing advocates has been arguing this.

The Dodd-Frank Act, passed last year revamping rules for financial institutions, directed all bank regulators to issue a joint regulation defining a reasonably safe, well-underwritten mortgage. Their recent proposed definition for such a “qualified residential mortgage” has created a stir because it has strict guidelines such as a 20 percent down payment requirement and tight limits on the collective debt of the borrower.

Rather than praising the definition of a good mortgage for ensuring borrower safety, consumer groups have criticized the regulation as being too strict, since banks would have to hold more capital against any loans that are riskier than qualified residential mortgages, meaning that financial institutions would charge more for mortgages with lower down payments.

“This is a civil rights issue,” John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said recently.

Mortgage Bankers Association CEO David Stevens echoed the sentiment: “We still need to be able to make affordable mortgages that don’t just go to the wealthy, who can afford the biggest down payments and who have the most positive credit ratings.” Such a kind heart from a man whose organization has lost significant business in the past few years as mortgages to less qualified borrowers have dried up.

Stevens, Taylor, and the leaders of other groups such as the Center for Responsible Lending and the National Council of La Raza (not to mention the realtors and homebuilders associations) have been teaming up to fight the qualified residential mortgage definition on the grounds that it will cause low-income households to spend more time saving up for a down payment while increasing the cost of mortgages.

But why is access to affordable homes equated with access to affordable mortgages, i.e. debt? They are not the same thing.

This coalition is nothing new. Such groups were also aligned in the late-1980s hawking a similar product. MLK’s wife even gave a speech in 1989 encouraging President George H.W. Bush to push for “affordable housing” as a part of her late husband’s dream for civil rights.

Ultimately, the Government Sponsored Enterprise Reform Act of 1992 was passed creating “affordable housing goals” targeted at increasing lending to low-income families. But the trade-off for access to cheaper mortgage debt—often through a subprime loan—was that housing prices increased.

Affordable mortgages replaced affordable housing.

As Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac expanded their purchases of subprime mortgages throughout the 2000s, the prices of homes kept growing and growing—requiring more and more federal subsidies to keep pace. That is partly because as mortgage prices fell, demand increased for homes, and prices rose. It was basic economics at work.

Sure, increased mortgage rates can be quite the deterrent to homebuyers, especially first-time homebuyers. But so can high housing prices.

Yet Janis Bowdler, a research project director at La Raza, still argues that the new Dodd-Frank authorized regulations will “so significantly deter the ability of first-time buyers to break into the market that we will see a real decline in home ownership.”

The issue of whether increased homeownership is a good thing is a matter for a different column. The confusing part of Bowdler’s comment is why she isn’t pushing for lower housing prices if she is worried about first-time buyers.

With virtually ever other commodity, innovation that improves quality and lowers price is seen as a good thing. Only because of the misperception that owning a home is a universally good investment for households do we favor rising home prices. (Well, that and the politics of housing prices.)

But historically, home prices on a national level have generally grown just at the rate of inflation. Only during the recent housing bubble did prices break from their historical trend and double over the course of 10 years. It is a myth that homeownership inherently creates wealth.

Now, home values have been falling since 2006 as the bubble has deflated and we are almost back to the historical trend line that dates back to the end of World War II for housing prices. But a host of federal policies—like the First-time Homebuyers Credit and the Fed’s quantitative easing programs—have slowed the decline in prices; though they have not stopped it.

It's not that Washington should force prices to go lower, it's that La Raza and other consumer organizations should be clamoring for the government to get out of the way to let prices finish their fall back to natural levels. That would help first-time homebuyers since housing would become more affordable.

Plus the households would have less mortgage debt with less needed to borrow.

But if La Raza and their cohorts could write the rules, they’d keep the government involved while lowering the threshold for getting a federal subsidy.

When the homeownership mob—to borrow a John Carneyism—won the day in 1992, the results were 1) government supported housing finance that put taxpayers on the line; 2) lower underwriting standards for housing finance supported by Fannie and Freddie; and 3) a bubble created by an artificial boost in housing prices. Ultimately, millions of low-income families were stuck with high and unsustainable debt, leading to the millions of foreclsoures we are wrestling with today.

The same thing will happen again if the consumer groups win again. Crippling overnment-subsidized debt is not a civil right.



The Suicide of another historic Denomination

It was a long, slow, painful death. In the end, the patient pulled strongly on the plug and what little life was left exited the body with a tragic gasp. May the Presbyterian Church, USA rest in peace. But there will be very little peace in this pathetic death. Ratified by a majority of presbyteries one month ago and effective one month from today (July 10), the church has abandoned its denominational commitment to traditional marriage. Gone is the standard for ordination that requires pastors, “to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman …, or chastity in singleness.”

Conservatives within the denomination had narrowly, but successfully resisted similar efforts over the past 15 years, but the diminished and beleaguered traditionalists lost the 87thand 88thpresbyteries in last month’s effort to change the constitution. “Progressives” had reached the needed majority and the constitution has been amended to allow for ordination of non-celibate gays and lesbians.

For centuries, the Presbyterian Church stood on the proud heritage and legacy of men like John Knox who fearlessly and valiantly stood for the truth of scripture. Today, the modern Presbyterian Church (USA) (also “PCUSA”) bears little resemblance to its noble ancestry. While some in the movement had worked hard for and held out hope for some kind of spiritual awakening, a renewed commitment to orthodoxy, it seems that hope is now gone. Let this be clear: The issue here is not homosexuality. The core of the matter is the authority of scripture.

It was indeed a long and arduous death. The real beginning of the death spiral began with what has been called the “Auburn Affirmation” in 1924. A controversy had arisen between the forces of “fundamentalism” and “modernism.” Once again, the issue was the authority of scripture. Among other things, the infamous affirmation denied the Bible’s inerrancy. The document was quickly signed by 1,274 of the denomination’s leaders and contributed to a decline in membership along with a decline in the number of churches and influence that—with a few exceptional years and a few exceptional churches—has continued to the present. The PCUSA has showed a constant, measurable decline for at least 40 continuous years. At the current rate, the PCUSA will be extinct in another 40 years. One could make the argument that they have been “dead” for years. The recent decision by the majority of the presbyteries simply made the death official.

What we have witnessed is a “Christian” denomination making a complete 180 degree turn from their founding principles and reaping the consequences. The PCUSA has denied what their spiritual founding fathers fought for and willingly died for. In its place, they have substituted a pathetic forgery. John Knox and others proclaimed that Christ died to set people free from their sins. The PCUSA decision provides space in the presbytery for affirmation of sin —even ordination as minister for those who chose to remain in sin.

From the Auburn Affirmation onward, the denomination has showed signs of death. Year after year, as their attendance numbers declined, they have held their annual gathering to try to diagnose the disease. A prescription that included a return to the simple teaching of scripture was desperately needed —a return to founding principles. What we have witnessed instead is more liberalism, in larger doses. The more liberal the denomination has become, the faster it has declined. And yet every year the cry is the same: “Let’s become more liberal and (in effect) deny more scripture!” Didn’t someone say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

One of the proclamations in the Auburn Affirmation was, “Division is deplored, unity and freedom are commended.” In other words, unity was far more important than truth. What they did not understand is that there is no true unity without truth! They turned Christ’s teaching concerning freedom on its head: He taught that His death would bring freedom from sin, denominational liberalism like what we’re witnessing in the PCUSA offers freedom in sin.

On May 10, 2011 the PCUSA made clear to the world that, for them, an orthodox view of scripture, man’s sin and the salvation offered through Christ alone are now irrelevant and even divisive. They have again rejected the authority of scripture. The denomination has left its proud heritage and has signed its own death certificate. Following in the footsteps of the liberals of 1924, the modern PCUSA has divided in the name of unity. Schism is the likely result of the presbyteries’ recent decision. Perhaps in dividing, conservative elements of the domination will rise again: Presbyterians that genuinely believe the Bible.


I am pleased to say that my old Presbyterian church is a traditional one with a good outreach that regularly fills its pews pretty well. It is 45 years since I was a member there but it still feels just the same as ever on the now rare occasions when I drop in for a service there (mostly Easter or Christmas) -- JR

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Capitalism as art

Government certainly isn't!

One criticism raised against capitalism is that it turns us all into pale imitations of real human beings by taking all the creativity and individuality out of life. This criticism usually focuses on how capitalism creates standardized, “processed,” and inferior products that we gladly consume (think of McDonald’s as the archetype here). The act of production is seen as rote and mechanical, perhaps indirectly due to mainstream economic models that portray the economy as merely an optimization problem lacking any creativity. The result, say the critics, is a bland, gray, highly imitative society.

This perception is misguided. In fact capitalism is fueled by creativity and makes possible a level of individuality never before seen in human history. The anthropologist Grant McCracken recently wrote that “capitalism is art, a transformational exercise that turns meaning into value and value back into meaning.” I think he’s onto something there, and viewing capitalism as creating meaning, like art, is a useful way to respond to the criticism noted above.

Creation of Value

That capitalist production is a “transformational exercise” should be fairly obvious: What entrepreneurs do is to take inputs and attempt to transform them into an output that is valued more highly than the sum of the values of the separate inputs (accounting for the time involved in production as well). A ladder is more valuable than a bunch of wood, some nails or screws, and some tools. Profit is the creation of value.

Note too the idea of “turning meaning into value.” The simplicity of the ladder example might hide it, but the hard part for the entrepreneur is figuring out what people value. One way of expressing this is that producers need to know what has meaning for potential buyers.

The goods and services we purchase are not really the ends we seek in the market — they are means for satisfying our various wants. The challenge for producers is to figure out what those wants are. This requires producers to try to understand the things that have meaning to consumers and then find ways to create them out of available resources. As McCracken says, producers try to transform meaning into value, which requires some elements of art in figuring out what carries meaning and how best to provide people with objects or services that embody it.

On the consumption side, the reverse is true. Capitalism makes it possible for us to better differentiate ourselves from others by providing an enormous variety of goods and services. This variety not only enables us to better fine-tune our purchases to our particular wants — which is itself a way of creating meaning in our lives — but it also lets us create and define who we are by the kinds of products we buy. As entrepreneurs create value by trying to anticipate what we want, we turn that value back into meaning by the patterns of consumption we undertake.

In the West most of us are wealthy enough that our day-to-day needs for food, clothing, and shelter are not pressing concerns. One consequence is that we can afford to make purchases that satisfy not just some particular want, but also the desire to create meaning in our lives. We spend money on our hobbies and interests, no matter how unusual they might be. We buy product lines that say something about who we think we are, or who we want to be, such as Apple products, hybrid cars, all kinds of clothing, and things like tattoos and hairstyles. We are artists creating ourselves through individualized consumption decisions.

Idiosyncratic Tastes

Market economies also produce goods that cater to the most idiosyncratic of tastes. Those with “minority” tastes, such as wearing Hawaiian shirts all the time or ties that look like fish, can find products that satisfy those tastes in the market. Imagine instead that we had to vote on what to produce according to majority rule. Much of what markets now produce to satisfy strange, unusual, or weird wants would never get produced. Markets make possible forms of creative individuality that alternative systems would not, and do not, tolerate.

Consumers take the values that entrepreneurs create and transform those products back into meaning for themselves. In some fundamental sense the creation of value and the creation of meaning are just two ways of looking at the very same process of production and consumption in a market economy. In other words, both entrepreneurship and consumption are acts of creativity, imagination, and art.



Simply Madness

Jonah Goldberg

"Live simply so that others may simply live," Gandhi famously proclaimed. Some vegetarians see their diet as the truest expression of Gandhi's advice. But these days, the slogan has been embraced most passionately by those who wish to say goodbye to economic growth.

That's not an exaggeration. The so-called "steady-state economy" movement holds that "We will have to get beyond growth as a society in order to realize a sustainable future."

That's from the website steadystaterevolution.org. Its logo features a typical jagged trend line (representing the traditional ups and downs of economic progress) that suddenly flatlines at a high level, sort of like what an EKG would look like if you had a heart attack and died while jogging (death, after all, is the steadiest of states).

The idea behind the steady-state economy should be familiar to anyone who's heard the lament that capitalism is bad for the environment because it rapaciously consumes resources faster than they can be replaced.

It's an ancient idea, really, a kind of millenarian paranoia that keeps getting gussied up to fit the latest headlines. My favorite example is the 1968 book "The Population Bomb" by Paul R. Ehrlich. "The battle to feed all of humanity is over," prophesized Ehrlich. "In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now."

It was a "certainty" that even in America, famine would claim millions. Ehrlich desperately claims that his predictions were mostly right and that hundreds of millions of people did indeed die of hunger over the ensuing decades. That's not exactly true. Global population has doubled and the amount of food available for humanity has grown as well.

But, yes, people have died of hunger since 1968. Why? It wasn't because markets failed or resources ran out. It was because government planners failed. That's why countries like India and China have introduced markets -- because their central planning was killing their own people.

A few years ago, a special issue of New Scientist magazine was dedicated to the steady-state economy. In it, Herman Daly, a leading guru behind the movement, explained that in his new ideal "sustainable economy," "scientists set the rules."

Translation: If the ecologists don't like an idea, that idea is out. Daly's hardly the only person out there imagining a kind of Plato's "Republic" where the philosopher-kings are replaced with environmental and climate scientists. The 2007 book "The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy" makes a similar argument, though its enemy is liberal democracy rather than economic growth.

Either way, the problem becomes clear: When people start talking about capping or halting or managing economic growth, what they really mean is capping, halting and managing freedom. Hence Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist and avowed envier of China's authoritarian regime, declares that "The Earth is Full" and we must therefore embrace a version of the steady-state economy.

Economic growth is an enemy of all central planners for the simple reason that growth jumps the guardrails of The Plan; it changes the aesthetically appealing flatline of the steady state and makes it jagged. Growth creates new products, destroys old ones and allows people to behave in ways that render PowerPoint projections dismayingly obsolete. Worse, it takes power from the planners.

In order to herd people back onto the official path, planners must tell them that what exists outside the guardrails is too terrifying to contemplate. "Beyond here there be monsters" is the posted sign at every guardrail.

For the record, America has more forests than it did a century ago. Our air, water and food are cleaner than at any time since industrialization. That is not because we lived simply, but because we pursued economic growth and accumulated the wealth and expertise to mend our problems. Over the long run, the same pattern holds true for every country that embraces economic growth.

That's why climate change is such a useful bogeyman -- because it is non-falsifiable, at least in our lifetimes. The "scientists set the rules," and there's no room for appeal. And -- surprise! -- in order to avoid catastrophe, the same old adages apply.

"Live simply so that others may simply live" has never made any sense save in this light. To live simply means to live predictably -- predictably poor (or to not live at all). When India came closest to following Gandhi's mantra, untold millions lived and died -- albeit "simply"! -- in abject poverty.

What America needs desperately today is massive economic growth. That's what will pay off our debt, sustain our entitlements and continue to improve the environment. Almost as important, it will annoy all the right people.



Slash spending and the economy will bloom

by Jeff Jacoby

FOR THREE YEARS, under presidents of both parties, the federal government has pumped trillions of borrowed dollars into stimulus, bailout, and recovery spending. The results have been woeful: Two years after the recession formally ended, the country is mired in a bleak economic lassitude from which it seems unable to rouse itself.

With 14 million Americans still unemployed, President Obama is presiding over the weakest economic recovery in more than 60 years.

Now the wretched news of recent weeks -- feeble GDP growth; painful foreclosure rates; slipping car sales; a drop in factory orders; ever more Americans on food stamps -- has grown even worse.

First, Standard & Poor's reported that home prices have fallen to their lowest level in more than two years, confirming a "double dip" in a housing collapse more severe than the one during the Great Depression. Then came the government's latest employment numbers: only 54,000 jobs added in May, the fewest in eight months, and a rise in the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent. This has been the lousiest recovery in more than 60 years, and by a wide margin.

Last week, speaking at the Chrysler plant in Toldeo where the Jeep Wrangler is produced, President Obama tried to put a brave face on things. "There are always going to be bumps on the road to recovery," he said. "We're going to pass through some rough terrain that even a Wrangler would have a tough time with." The audience booed. If that's the reaction Obama's keep-your-chin-up rhetoric gets from a friendly union crowd, how will it play with the rest of the country?

In a new strategy memo, Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg warns his party that voters have lost confidence in Democrats when it comes to the economy, and that harping on the past -- insisting that "Democrats did right and brave things" to promote growth -- will not win votes in 2012.

"'The economy' is not the recovery," Greenberg writes, "but a set of powerful on-going realities: a middle class smashed and struggling, American jobs being lost, the country and people in debt. . . . Voters are desperate for leaders who understand the scope of what is happening. . . . They want serious plans, not triumphalism about jobs reports."

To Greenberg and other Democrats, "serious plans" to revive the economy presumably don't include dramatic cutbacks in the government's astronomical spending. But what if that spending -- projected to reach $3.8 trillion this year, $1.6 trillion of it borrowed -- is the very thing inhibiting economic growth? Keynesian economists and pundits have argued that what the economy craves is even more stimulus spending and government debt. But history suggests something altogether different.

Writing last year in the Cato Policy Report, economists Jason Taylor and Richard Vedder showed that the great post-World War II economic boom was ushered in by the swift rollback of what had been the largest economic "stimulus" in US history. At the time, leading Keynesians cautioned that the abrupt withdrawal of federal dollars would plunge the economy into a new depression.

Their warnings were ignored.

"Government canceled war contracts, and its spending fell from $84 billion in 1945 to under $30 billion in 1946," Taylor and Vedder wrote. "By 1947, the government was . . . running a budget surplus of close to 6 percent of GDP. The military released around 10 million Americans back into civilian life. Most economic controls were lifted, and all were gone less than a year after V-J Day. In short, the economy underwent . . . the 'shock of de-stimulus.'"

Fearful predictions of massive unemployment -- 14 percent, Business Week said -- never materialized. Far from collapsing, "labor markets adjusted quickly and efficiently once they were finally unfettered." Even with millions of demobilized soldiers re-entering the workforce, "unemployment rates . . . remained under 4.5 percent in the first three postwar years." Workers who lost government-funded jobs quickly replaced them in the surging private sector. "In fact," Taylor and Vedder add, "civilian employment grew, on net, by over 4 million between 1945 and 1947 when so many pundits were predicting economic Armageddon. Household consumption, business investment, and net exports all boomed as government spending receded."

America's postwar experience indicates that vibrant growth is generated not by massive government interference in the economy, but by the reverse. The way to revive a gasping private sector is for government to get out of its way, not to choke it with trillions of dollars in new spending.

Washington's response to the recession -- unprecedented, intrusive, costly -- has been ruinous. The stimulus hasn't restored the economy to health. The "shock of de-stimulus" just might.




FCC taking “Fairness Doctrine” off the books: "Under GOP pressure, the Federal Communications Commission has agreed to strike from its books an outdated yet still controversial regulation of political speech on the airwaves known as the Fairness Doctrine. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a letter to a House Republican leader this week that the agency's effort to identify and eliminate 'antiquated and outmoded rules that unnecessarily burden business, stifle investment and innovation, or confuse consumers and licensees' will include a recommendation to delete the Fairness Doctrine."

To fix fiscal mess, follow Texas: "So what example should America follow, that of deficit-slaughtering, budget-cutting, seriously limited government in Texas, which has added 730,000 jobs in the past decade, or that of regulation-happy, spend-mercilessly, owe-everything, flee-this-place-quickly California, which has lost 600,000 jobs during the same period?"

The Trojan Horse of “happiness research”: "A very large literature has built up over the past several decades in the area of so-called 'happiness research.' Such research is based on several very dubious assumptions: namely, that utility is cardinal and measurable after all; that interpersonal utility comparisons can therefore be made; and that the great unicorn of economic theory — the 'social welfare function' — has finally been spotted. Armed with these assertions, socialists around the world believe they have finally discovered their holy grail." [See also here]

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

The Audacity of Progressivism

by Andrew Mellon

Recently, I got into a big fight with my cube-mate. After attacking him for his listening to Bill Maher during the workday, he shot back and mocked my Glenn Beck listening. As if there was some moral equivalence between the two.

“But Beck’s predictions have been right throughout the last two years. Why would you not at least give him a listen?” I questioned. My Georgetown-educated cube-mate shot back: “Because most of the people that listen to Glenn Beck are uneducated mid-westerners.”

Infuriated, I protested “Do you have any idea how arrogant and elitist you sound right now?” Leave aside the irony that I was attacking his condescension while as a colleague of ours pointed out, showing beneath my loafers were our company holiday gift socks dotted with various currencies.

As my cube-mate went on to say, though he conceded that government should not be all-encompassing, “I want smart people to make decisions for people.” In other words, us silly hicks are incapable of governing ourselves. This is the fatal conceit of which F.A. Hayek wrote that reflects the attitude of the intellectual class today.

Why is it fatal? First, the “highly educated intellectual” today routinely receives a subpar education. Believe me, I went through it at Columbia, one of the few remaining schools with any semblance of a valuable curriculum. A real education is about teaching the pupil to think critically. Routinely, education today is more about spending time in science classes listening to professors talk about the merits of joining the Peace Corps (yes, this happened to me), iconoclastic gender, race and political studies courses and cultural Marxist programming of the heirs apparent of the political, economic and cultural hierarchy of the country.

Of those who graduate from these institutions and matriculate to the political realm, the progressive ethic pervades. And what is this ethic? The elite must decide for the sheep.

Progressivism argues that man should play G-d, organizing society as he sees fit, “nudging” people as Cass Sunstein advocates towards making the right decision of a governmentally-defined set of choices and socially engineering swaths of society.

Never mind that central planning fails given that the planners can never make the decisions that self-reliant and self-interested individuals acting freely would make, and that central planners lack the specialized information of the millions of actors that make up the economy.

Never mind that even if you don’t buy this argument on theoretical grounds, every nation guided by central planning has ended in mass poverty, mass genocide or both.

The manifest defects of central planning are not nearly as bad as its dehumanizing nature. For the progressive central planner is a regressive tyrant. What he seeks to do by regulation is only different than what the master does by the whip in his coyness.

The progressive enslaves as he believes that there is no value in the individual — there are only masses of malleable animals that must be shaped and coddled by paternalistic wise men in government.

Egalitarianism must reign. Natural differences, desires and ambitions must be discarded for the greater good. Social welfare is but a small price to pay for the fat cat, selfish innovators, entrepreneurs, job creators and investors who subsidize it.

Forget about the fact that practically every good and service around us was provided by the very system the progressives seek to destroy, to the disproportionate detriment of the lower classes.

Yet the question is never posed, is such a system moral? Should you by virtue of living in America be forced by law to live to support your fellow man through government? Should you be an indentured servant for months each year in effect working for the government middle man so that he can bribe and satisfy his constituents? Should the politician be able to compel you by law to plan your retirement by paying into an insolvent Ponzi scheme like social security; to at the point of the gun make you cut a check each year for failing public schools that teach the very principles to the nation’s youth that most disgust you?

And is it moral that these progressives who would be the first to attack religious advocates impose their own leftist religion through the involuntary mechanism of brute government force?

The progressive philosophy, an economic failure, is also a massive blight on our souls. For it enchains man to his fellow man and impoverishes all of society by taking away man’s individualism, his sense of responsibility and his self-worth. The progressive state dehumanizes and demoralizes man, leaving him an apathetic and impotent slave.

There is no compassion in such a system. There is no morality in such a system. All that there is is man ruling over his fellow man, throwing bread crumb benefits at various faceless voting blocs unable to see through such a scheme after so many years of socialist ideological subversion.

Shame on the progressives for their disdain for their fellow man, their hubris in thinking that they are right to rule over him and their disgusting glee in molding society for their own political gain. And shame on us for sanctioning such a system.



'Bumps on the Road'

The choice is more jobs reports like Friday's or a growth agenda.

You've got to hand it to President Obama and his White House economic team. Faced with yesterday's dreary May jobs report, they did their best and rolled out the old "bump in the road" analogy for comfort. As chief White House economist Austan Goolsbee put it, "there are always bumps on the road to recovery, but the overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years."

Nice try, but there's no way to spin news that the economy in May created only 54,000 new jobs, which is about one-third the number necessary to keep up with the growth in the labor force. The jobless rate rose for the second straight month to 9.1%, which is especially depressing nearly two years after the end of a very deep recession.

At this stage in the Reagan expansion, after a comparably deep 1981-82 recession, the economy was growing by 7% a year and the jobless rate was plunging. This time the economy is growing by less than 2%, and we still have 6.8 million fewer jobs than when the recession began in late 2007.

In other bad news, the average duration of those out of work jumped by 1.4 weeks to 39.7 in May, and the percentage of those jobless for at least six months climbed by 1.7% to 45.1%. The overall labor participation rate stayed the same at 64.2%, but as the nearby chart shows that rate has now fallen to its lowest rate since the mid-1980s.

This is an important economic measure because it reflects the opportunities that Americans perceive in the marketplace. In the long boom from the Reagan years through 2000 or so, the labor participation rate took a historic leap upward as women, immigrants and others entered the job market. The rate dipped after the 2001-2002 downturn, and we recall the media giving much attention to a Federal Reserve study raising alarms even as the rate began to climb again in mid-decade. It has now fallen off a cliff, and we doubt this is what Mr. Goolsbee means when he hails the "trajectory of the economy."

Chances are that job creation will improve in future months after the effects of Japan's earthquake and Midwest tornadoes and if oil prices level off or fall. But the longer the jobs slowdown continues, the greater the danger that the U.S. settles into a new normal of high "structural" unemployment, with employers reluctant to hire workers until they absolutely must. This is a symptom of Eurosclerosis.

The same economists and pundits who promoted the economic policies of the last four years are now lamenting the jobs bust and demanding that Washington double down: More stimulus spending, more Federal Reserve easing, more temporary tax rebates. They can't explain why these policies have failed to date, but we are supposed to rinse and repeat.

The real "bumps on the road" to recovery are these policies and the larger climate of hostility toward job creators that still prevails in Washington. A National Labor Relations Board that wants to stop businesses from moving plants; a $20 billion political raid on banks over foreclosures; hundreds of major new regulations from ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank and the EPA's war on carbon energy; federal deficits that Mr. Obama says require higher taxes; near-zero interest rates for 30 months that have sent commodity prices soaring, and so much more.

The economy doesn't need more of this. It needs a return to the growth agenda that created the long post-1982 boom.



Liberal vs Conservative: A Spiritual Battle

Lloyd Marcus

Without beating around the bush, I believe the battle being fought in America today goes beyond politics; right vs left. It is a spiritual battle; good vs evil.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” -- Ephesians 6:12

The mindset of the American left is a spirit of Antichrist which is man making himself God.

Before writing me off as a Bible nut, please hear me out. Understanding this reality will explain much of the left's behavior. Because they believe man is God, in their insane arrogance, the left think they can fix everything; legislate equal outcomes and even save or destroy the planet.

Make no mistake about it folks, we are in a spiritual battle. Ask yourself. Specifically, what about Sarah Palin inspires such visceral hatred from the left? The word is “wholesome”.

For the most part, Palin promotes love for God, family and country. She is passionately determined to thwart Obama's plan to “fundamentally transform America”.

While realizing Palin is human and does not walk on water, Palin epitomizes heartland principles and values embraced by most Americans. Thus, we are Palin and Palin is us.

The large number of Christians in the Tea Party believe in right and wrong. The left has a huge problem with the concept of right and wrong. Their religion of Liberalism embraces Moral Relativism.

For these reasons, Palin and the Tea Party are as repulsive to liberals as showing Dracula the cross.

There is definitely an anti-wholesome, anti-goodness vibe coming out of Hollywood. Hollywood leftists are vehemently anti death penalty. They rally around convicted murderers. They think anyone harming a puppy should be beaten within any inch of their life. These Hollywood libs pride themselves as being Lords of Compassion and Tolerance.

And yet, these same libs have a cow whenever someone merely suggests to a woman that she think twice before aborting her baby. Tell me there “ain't” something spiritually wrong with such a mindset.

Because liberal elitists think man is God, they assume moral authority to confiscate as much control over our lives we simple minded god fearing peons will allow, including procreation.

I picked up a government funded brochure at my local library which basically said birthing babies is an irresponsible abuse of the planet.

Folks, this is leftist control freak hogwash! The seven billion people who live on the planet could fit in Texas enjoying about the same amount of living space as residents of New York.
God said be fruitful and multiply. But then, what the heck does God know?

In her book, “Godless”, Ann Coulter said, “If a Martian landed in America and set out to determine the nation's official state religion, he would have to conclude it is Liberalism, while Christianity and Judaism are prohibited by law”.

I concur with Ms Coulter. The mainstream media is controlled by zealots of Liberalism who I believe are driven by a spirit of Antichrist; man is God. Thus, only man can and will fix everything.

Why does the left aggressively demand that we show utmost respect for every religion under the sun except Christianity? Remember when libs Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar stormed off the set of The View TV program when they concluded Bill O'Reilly dissed Muslims?

And yet, Rosie O'Donnell outrageously stated “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America”. Not one peep of disagreement or disapproval from the left.

Islam suppresses women. And yet, liberal self proclaimed feminists Goldberg, Behar and O'Donnell illogically defend Islam. These three feminists despise the extraordinarily successful Christian liberated woman, Sarah Palin. Rosie O'Donnell even lamented that Osama bin Laden did not get a fair trial.

Unquestionably, these women have issues with America and Christians; a spirit of Antichrist. At the center of Christianity is a divine Jesus. If Jesus is God, the left is not.

Even our most liberal president ever, Obama, dissed heartland Americans for “bitterly clinging to their god and guns”. Would a true Christian berate folks for finding security in trusting God?

Like an episode of Star Trek, the left believes universal peace can be achieved via America apologizing and admitting to the world that “we suck”, surrendering our power, signing treaties and singing a few verses of“Kumbaya”.

They believe the greatest source of evil in the world is warmongering Christian white guys like George Bush. If only Bush had, “Given peace a chance”.

Liberals always cater to man's lowest base instincts. They hate standards for behavior, labeling all rebuke of bad behavior as being intolerant and judgmental. And yet, they believe without divine influence, man is capable of someday achieving universal peace. Totally absurd.

Christians believe that though we strive to do the right thing, the heart of man is critically flawed which is why we were in need of a savior, Jesus Christ.

Obama's promise to “fundamentally transform America” is a spiritual attack on our freedom, liberty and culture.

Despite the left's relentless attempts to ban God from America's public square, the emergence and power of the Tea Party tells me God is still on our side.

Mr. Obama, though your liberal zealots perceive you to be “the messiah”, God is still on the throne. Come November 2012, you're fired!


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Obama Administration's Egghead Economic Saboteurs

Michelle Malkin

Official motto of the White House economic team: Those who can, do. Those who can't, fantasize in the classroom, fail in Washington and then return to the Ivy Tower to train the next generation of egghead economic saboteurs. Life is good for left-wing academics. Everyone else pays dearly.

Take Austan Goolsbee, please. President Obama's "fresh-faced" University of Chicago econ professor arrived in Washington in December 2008 to fill two slots: chief economist/staff director of the president's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and member of the Council of Economic Advisers. In September 2010, he replaced CEA head and fellow academic Christina Romer, who retreated to the University of California at Berkeley last August when unemployment hit 9.5 percent. (She infamously projected that the Obama stimulus would hold the jobless rate below 8 percent.)

Goolsbee's primary task: translating all of the administration's big-government theories for us dummies. As Goolsbee put it to his university's student newspaper: "We've certainly seen in previous crises that it's quite important to explain things to non-experts. The American people can confront any challenge if they're comfortable with the approach."

And what exactly was the nature of Goolsbee's vaunted expertise? Making money as a business rescue-and-recovery expert without ever having had to meet a payroll.

Goolsbee, the 15th wealthiest member of the Obama administration, has raked in assets valued at between $1,146,000 and $2,715,000. He also pulled in a University of Chicago salary of $465,000 and additional wages and honoraria worth $93,000, according to Washingtonian magazine. As I've noted before, the government research fellow and Obama campaign adviser was a champion of extending credit to the un-creditworthy. In a 2007 op-ed for The New York Times, he derided those who called subprime mortgages "irresponsible." He preferred to describe them as "innovations in the mortgage market" to expand the pool of homebuyers.

Goolsbee's most recent "innovation": the "White House White Board," a weekly video lecture teaching everyone else how to hitch what remains of America's free-market system to the wagon of the state and how much (or rather, how little) we should make doing it. He illustrated his grand interventionist strategy to pick and choose "Startup America" winners by drawing a trough of broken light bulbs (symbolizing entrepreneurial ideas) piling up in a "Valley of Death" because they lacked government support.

A comical choice of imagery given the Democrats' enviro-nutty ban on incandescent bulbs. But I digress.

When Goolsbee joined Team Obama, the unemployment rate was at around 6 percent. When he announced his resignation on Monday, the jobless rate stood at 9.1 percent. Romer and Jared Bernstein (former chief economist to Vice President Joe Biden) had predicted unemployment would drop every single month after August 2009 due to the Obama stimulus. Bernstein bailed on the administration in April 2011 for the sanctuary of a liberal think-tank. He'll also now ply his failed wares as a financial pundit.

These hapless command-and-control ideologues were preceded by Peter Orszag, who hung his "Mission Accomplished" banner over the White House budget office in June 2010 after fewer than two years on the job, and by former National Economic Council head and hedge fund manager Larry Summers, who was caught sleeping on the job -- literally -- more than once during his brief tenure. Summers packed his bags in September. He was followed by Princeton economics professor and former top Obama Treasury Department official Alan Krueger in October 2010.

White House aides have lamented that the economic team is "exhausted." Apparently, Obama is tired of hearing from them, too. The Hill newspaper reports that he has stopped receiving daily economic briefings that were once treated with the same emergency status as national security briefings. So, the central planners continue to be paid to fail -- while their boss looks the other way at the destruction, whistling into what he calls America's temporary "head winds." Nice non-work if you can get it.



The Cancer of Regulation

John Stossel

Politicians care about poor people. I know because they always say that. But then why do they make it so hard for the poor to escape poverty?

Outside my office in New York City, I see yellow taxis. It's intuitive to think that government should license taxis to make sure they're safe and to limit their number. It's intuitive to believe that if anyone could just start picking up passengers, we'd have chaos. So to operate a taxi in NYC, you have to buy a license, a "medallion," from an existing cab company (or at a once-in-a-blue-moon auction). Medallions are so scarce, they now cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Licensing prices poor people out of the business. "Compare New York City, where a license to own and operate a taxi is $603,000, to Washington, D.C.," George Mason University economist Walter Williams told me. "There are not many black-owned taxis in New York City. But in Washington, most are owned by blacks." Why? Because in Washington, "it takes $200 to get a license to own and operate one taxi. That makes the difference."

Regulation hurts the people the politicians claim to help. People once just went into business. But now, in the name of "consumer protection," bureaucrats insist on licensing rules. Today, hundreds of occupations require expensive licenses. Tough luck for a poor person getting started.

Ask Jestina Clayton. Ten years ago, she moved from Africa to Utah. She assumed she could support her children with the hair-braiding skills she learned in Sierra Leone. For four years, she braided hair in her home. She made decent money. But then the government shut her down because she doesn't have an expensive cosmetology license that requires 2,000 hours of classroom time -- 50 weeks of useless instruction. The Institute for Justice (IJ), the public-interest law firm that fights such outrages, says "not one of those 2,000 hours teaches African hair-braiding."

IJ lawyer Paul Avelar explained that "the state passed a really broad law and left it to the cosmetology board to interpret." Guess who sits on the cosmetology board. Right: cosmetologists. And they don't like competition.

One day, Jestina received an email. "The email threatened to report me to the licensing division if I continued to braid," she told me. This came as a shock because she had been told that what she was doing was legal.

"When I called (the commission) in 2005 on two separate occasions, they did tell me that, but then when I called (again) ... the cosmetology lady told me that the situation had changed and that I needed to go to school now and get a license."

No customers complained, but a competitor did. One cosmetologist claimed that if she didn't go to school she might make someone bald. But this is nonsense -- hair-braiding is just ... braiding. If the braid is too tight, you can undo it.

The cosmetology board told Jestina that if she wanted to braid hair without paying $18,000 to get permission from the board, she should lobby the legislature. Good luck with that. Jestina actually tried, but no luck. How can poor people become entrepreneurs if they must get laws changed first?! Jestina stopped working because she can't afford the fines. "The first offense is $1,000," she said. "The second offense and any subsequent offense is $2,000 each day."

"It is not unique to Utah," Avelar added. "There are about 10 states that explicitly require people to go get this expensive, useless license to braid hair."

Fortunately, IJ's efforts against such laws have succeeded in seven states. Now it's in court fighting for Jestina, which, appropriately, means "justice" in her native language.

Once upon a time, one in 20 workers needed government permission to work in their occupation. Today, it's one in three. We lose some freedom every day. "Occupational licensing laws fall hardest on minorities, on poor, on elderly workers who want to start a new career or change careers," Avelar said. "(Licensing laws) just help entrenched businesses keep out competition."

This is not what America was supposed to be.



Let's Not Forget About Obamacare

Democrats will often get irritable when some clingy philistine refers to Obamacare as "socialized medicine." It's simply not a precise phrase for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In any event, it's not socialized yet, you ignoramuses! Progress doesn't happen overnight. No worries, though, recent signs portend that Obamacare will give us the state-run plan we proles deserve.

A new study published in McKinsey Quarterly claims that in 2014, the provisions of Obamacare will induce 3 in 10 employers to "definitely or probably" stop offering health coverage to their employees. And we can only assume the companies have had the good sense not to read the legislation.

Sure, the president promised we could keep our insurance if we liked it. But why would you want to be mixed up with pitiless corporations that focus on profits, anyway? Obamacare courageously forces states to implement concocted "exchanges" so that someone much smarter than you can pick participants, regulate prices and keep an eye on things. Sounds like a vigorous marketplace. It's only a wonder that more Americans aren't clamoring for government-run supermarkets, smartphones and dating exchanges, as well.

You'll also recall that the un-socialized system allowed 20, 30, 40 million (please feel free to come up with any number you'd like; The New York Times won't care) people to go uninsured. Medicare's chief actuary estimated that 400,000 would sign up for these high-risk pools before Obamacare kicked in. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the budget would be able to handle 200,000, and others claimed that the program would need eight times the funding to meet demand. This was the driving reason for Obamacare. But as Megan McArdle of The Atlantic points out, just as with the exchanges, folks have been standoffish, with only about 18,000 people signing up.

Victory, right? The success of a government handout is always measured by how little Americans need to use it, right? Well, judging from the food stamp administration's actions, that would be a big no. What this probably calls out for is more public service announcements or a wider net. Hey, we'll just get some toffee-nosed yacht jockeys to offset the cost.

That's not to say there aren't people out there who really need support. The president has generously handed out nearly 1,400 Obamacare waivers to the neediest among us. About 20 percent of them have been awarded to an upmarket district in San Francisco that, by pure chance, is represented by Nancy Pelosi. Others, such as the AARP and local unions, had demanded we pass Obamacare so they could not take part in it immediately.

We'll also soon be hearing more about the lawsuits challenging Obamacare's individual mandate. Randy Barnett, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University Law Center, recently asked, "If Congress can impose this economic mandate on the people, what can't it mandate the people to buy?" Everything and nothing. And that's the beauty of it.

And let's not forget it was Obama, the newfound holy savior of Medicare, who pinned the key cost control component of health care reform on Medicare through his Independent Payment Advisory Board, or what bitter righties call a rationing board.

Rationing boards. Political favors. Lies. Coercion. Broken promises. Precedents that can force us to buy about anything. It might not be socialism, technically speaking. But really, what's not to like?



Leftist Lies and the Media That Enable Them

You might have seen the vicious Mediscare video by now entitled “America the Beautiful.” If you haven’t, you should. It’s from folks who just the other day were chanting the mantra of “civility.” It’s a taste of what the left will be serving up as 2012 approaches.

As the song “America the Beautiful” plays, a man in a dark suit with a likeness to Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) pushes an elderly woman in a wheelchair down a sidewalk. The message on the screen informs us that the Republican Medicare reform proposal will “privatize” Medicare. The man diverts to a steep path as the woman’s smile turns to terror. She fights as he pushes her faster. He then dumps her headfirst off a cliff, which we see clearly from the front. The only thing missing is a vampire giving her a hickey on the way down.

Not since Barry Goldwater was smeared in 1964 with the famous "little girl with daisy and mushroom cloud" TV ad has there been such bald-faced character assassination.

The ad was produced by The Agenda Project, a leftist group that earlier made a similarly nasty Tea Party video whose title includes the f-word, and also "Hate Begets Hate", a hateful assault on public figures who oppose the Cordoba House Mosque at Ground Zero in New York City. That one has little Muslim girls crying and being comforted while photos of big, bad (and even some liberal) politicians are quoted. This is propaganda at its rawest. No, wait. They topped it with that lady pushed over a cliff.




When all you have is a hammer: "Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is troubled by the unemployment rate that has crept back upwards, and the 'frustratingly slow' economic recovery. And so what does he propose? More of the same, of course. More liquidity and a base interest rate kept near zero. You see, this is practically the only tool he has: monetary stimulus, which is another word for inflation, if we define this in terms of a rising money supply rather than rising prices, the latter of which is properly seen as a natural consequence of the former."

The dark side of the welfare state: "There comes a point when elected leaders reach the end of their ability to tax, borrow, and inflate for funding. The United States is verging on that threshold. However, rather than acknowledge the folly of and dispense with unsustainable entitlements, U.S. leaders are, for the most part, endeavoring to preserve them."

Real cuts for the debt vote: "The House's overwhelming rejection of a clean debt-limit increase means that the two parties must now find major spending cuts. House Republicans say that they will not support a debt increase unless the Democrats agree to equal-sized spending cuts. If Congress raises the debt limit by $1 trillion, then it must also find budget savings of at least $1 trillion, over either five or ten years. The crucial question is: Will the proposed budget savings be real cuts or smoke-and-mirrors 'cuts?'"

Free trade can help the US grow: "The Obama administration’s economic policies thus far would suggest that it sees the only way to increase growth is to increase federal spending. However, Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) that increase competition by removing tariffs and other barriers to trade may do more to promote America’s economic recovery than billions of dollars of government stimulus ever could."

Take your little black box and shove it: "We all heard this week that from this moment onward, all new automobiles manufactured in or imported to the United States will be required to have 'litle black boxes' like the flight recorders in aircraft."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

More and more of the USA is being run by emptyheads

Thomas Sowell

Two unrelated news stories on the same day show the contrast between government decisions and private decisions.

Under the headline "Foreclosed Homes Sell at Big Discounts," USA Today reported that banks were selling the homes they foreclosed on, at discounts of 38 percent in Tennessee to 41 percent in Illinois and Ohio.

Banks in general try to get rid of the homes they acquire by foreclosure, by selling them quickly for whatever they can get. Why? Because banks are forced by economic realities to realize that they are not real estate companies.

No matter how much expertise bank officials may have in financial transactions, that is very different from knowing the best ways to maintain and market empty houses.

Meanwhile, there was a story on the Fox News Channel about schools that are using their time to indoctrinate kindergartners and fourth graders with politically correct attitudes about sex.

Anyone familiar with the low standards and mushy notions in the schools and departments of education that turn out our public school teachers might think that these teachers would have all they can do to make American children competent in reading, writing and math.

Anyone familiar with how our children stack up with children from other countries in basic education would be painfully aware that American children lag behind children in countries that spend far less per pupil than we do.

In other words, teachers and schools that are failing to provide the basics of education are branching out into all sorts of other areas, where they have even less competence.

Why are teachers so bold when banks are so cautious? The banks pay a price for being wrong. Teachers don't.

If banks try to act like they are real estate companies and hold on to a huge inventory of foreclosed homes, they are likely to lose money big time, as those homes deteriorate and cannot compete with homes marketed by real estate companies with far more experience and expertise in this field.

But if teachers fail to educate children, they don't lose one dime, no matter how much those children and the country lose by their failure. If the schools waste precious time indoctrinating children, instead of educating them, that's the children's problem and the country's problem, but not the teachers' problem.

Sex indoctrination is just one of innumerable "exciting" and "innovative" self-indulgences of the schools. There is no bottom line test of what these boondoggles cost the children or the country.

Incidentally, conservatives who think that schools should be teaching "abstinence" miss the point completely. The schools have no expertise to be teaching sex at all. We should be happy if they ever develop the competence to teach math and English, so that our children can hold their own in international tests given to children in other countries.

Schools are just one government institution that take on tasks for which they have no expertise or even competence.

Congress is the most egregious example. In the course of any given year, Congress votes on taxes, medical care, military spending, foreign aid, agriculture, labor, international trade, airlines, housing, insurance, courts, natural resources, and much more.

There are professionals who have spent their entire adult lives specializing in just one of these fields. They idea that Congress can be competent in all these areas simultaneously is staggering. Yet, far from pulling back-- as banks or other private enterprises must, if they don't want to be ruined financially by operating beyond the range of their competence-- Congress is constantly expanding further into more fields.

Having spent years ruining the housing markets with their interference, leading to a housing meltdown that has taken the whole economy down with it, politicians have now moved on into micro-managing automobile companies and medical care.

They are not going to stop unless they get stopped. And that is not going to happen until the voters recognize the fact that political rhetoric is no substitute for competence.



Think You Know Sarah Palin? Think Again

Sarah Palin is one of the most media-saturated figures today, as filmmaker Stephen K. Bannon of the new film “The Undefeated” points out. Yet, watching the film, the details about the ex-governor that have remained unknown to the ‘lower 48’ will stun the viewer.

The film itself has an interesting origin. The Palin team approached Bannon after the 2010 election about a film, but he wasn’t interested in the short video project they mentioned. Bannon decided to do a film that the Palin team had no editorial control over, although they did help him gain access to several key players from her time in Alaska. For those wondering whether Team Sarah wanted “The Undefeated” to come out in conjunction with some sort of presidential buzz, Bannon says that the team never expressed interest in or exerted any pressure on a movie release date.

Though the film production timeline was not, it appears, done with any kind of presidential 2012 campaign in mind, it is capable of giving people a second impression of Palin and one that could prove useful in a 2012 discussion, because it’s a documentary based on facts that show the governor as an astute leader and a smart woman, unlike how she has been portrayed for the better part of three years. Bannon himself is a Harvard grad and was impressed with how Palin governed the state. He also said even some liberals in the entertainment industry are garnering a great appreciation for her as a person of substance.

Maybe that’s because “The Undefeated” takes the better part of two hours to highlight something that many people have glossed over –Sarah Palin’s legislative accomplishments.

Americans hear the generic, cliché phrases about how Palin cleaned up the good old boys network in Alaska and improved the state’s energy infrastructure. But this movie gives you the facts and details behind those clichés – it draws heavily on interviews from those who know the state best, newspaper clippings and TV coverage of Palin's time as an elected Alaskan official, and it is sewn together by narration from Palin herself that the director borrowed from audio of her book, Going Rogue.

As governor, Palin actually did comb through the Alaskan budget line by line and powerfully wielded the veto pen. She implemented important reforms to Alaska’s oil industry and pressured Exxon to start drilling again in Point Thomson after holding leasing on the land for years. The film includes an old TV report about the businesses that came to Wasilla thanks to its new pro-business atmosphere, fostered by Palin. And, unlike the Democrats who talk a big game about taking on Big Oil, Palin actually took on Big Oil with a tenacity that should make her Nancy Pelosi’s hero, releasing the stranglehold that those companies had on the oil resources and industry in her state. She didn’t stand for corruption in the Alaskan government – her ethical stance, in fact, was a key factor in the popularity that allowed her to run for governor.

What did her critics do? They responded by calling her a Spice Girl or some variation of Nordstrom girl – and this was back during her Wasilla days, way before the national media ever began launching torpedoes her way. Palin’s response? She won re-election as mayor of Wasilla with about 75 percent of the vote. She had an over 80 percent approval rating as governor.

It’s the sentiment of Bannon’s movie: think again before you underestimate Sarah Palin.



You know how Sarah Palin said Paul Revere warned the British? Well, he did. Now, who looks stupid?

You may have heard recently something about that Sarah Palin telling a reporter that Paul Revere warned the British on his famous rousing revolutionary ride.

Now, that so many Americans have wallowed in their smug confirmation that Palin is an idiot unqualified for anything but repeating sixth-grade history, how far, wide and fast do you think the contradictory news will spread that the former governor of Alaska was indeed correct?

That the Republican non-candidate, in fact, knew more about the actual facts of Revere's midnight ride than all those idiots unknowingly revealing their own ignorance by laughing at her faux faux pas? How secretly embarrassing this must be, to be forced to face that you're dumber than the reputed dummy.

As it happens, though, such phenomena are regular occurrences in American politics, reminding consumers of news to be wary when some fresh story seems to fit contemporary assumptions so absolutely perfectly.

The well-known fable is Revere's late-night ride to warn fellow revolutionaries that.... the British were coming. Less known, obviously, is the rest of the evening's events in which Revere was captured by said redcoats and did indeed defiantly warn them of the awakened militia awaiting their arrival ahead and of the American Revolution's inevitable victory.

Palin knew this. The on-scene reporters did not and ran off like Revere to alert the world to Palin's latest mis-speak, which wasn't.



Why PBS is a public menace

PBS recently added 15- to 30-second "sponsorship" messages to online presentations of major programs — everything from Masterpiece to Frontline (but not children's programs). This fall, it intends to start interrupting its broadcasts with promotional spots, although in response to criticism it says it may test the idea first.

PBS calls these interruptions "program breaks" or "sponsorship announcements," but on other channels they're called commercials. So: What, in a world of hundreds of radio and TV channels, is so special about PBS and NPR that they should get $420 million a year of taxpayers' money?

When I was a boy growing up in western Kentucky, with three TV networks, it was understandable that people thought an "educational" network would add something important. But my brother's kids in that same little town later had access to hundreds of cable stations.

PBS used to ask, "If not PBS, then who?" The answer now is: HBO, Bravo, Discovery, History, History International, Science, Planet Green, Sundance, Military, C-SPAN 1/2/3 and many more.

Defenders of the tax-funded broadcast networks often point out that only about 15 percent of their funding comes from the federal government. Good — they can absorb the loss.

In 2003, NPR told potential advertisers that "compared with the general public, NPR listeners are 55 percent less likely to have a household income below $30,000 ... 152 percent more likely to have a home valued at $500,000 or more and 194 percent more likely to travel to France." And PBS viewers were 98 percent more likely to be a CEO and 315 percent more likely to have stocks valued at $75,000 or more.

Sponsors know this. The most prominent of the new online advertisers is Goldman Sachs, which knows where to find a wealthy and influential audience.

So why should working- and middle-class taxpayers be subsidizing the news and entertainment of the rich?

The main point here isn't the money, it's the separation of news and state. If anything should be kept separate from government and politics, it's the news and public-affairs programming that informs Americans about government and its policies. When government brings us the news — with all the inevitable bias and spin — it is putting its thumb on the scales of democracy.

A healthy democracy needs a free and diverse press — but Americans today have access to more sources of news and opinion than ever before: more broadcast networks than before, cable networks, satellite TV and radio, the Internet. Any diversity argument for NPR and PBS is now a sad joke.

We don't need a government news and opinion network. More important, we shouldn't require taxpayers to pay for broadcasting that will inevitably reflect a particular perspective on politics and culture. The marketplace of democracy should be a free market, in which the voices of citizens are heard, with no unfair advantage granted by government to one participant.




Obama lies with statistics about auto industry jobs: "The auto industry has added 113,000 jobs over the past two years.” So proclaimed President Obama in his speech Friday. But we need to look under the hood of those employment claims. Schoenberger reported the sobering fact that even after the Bush and Obama administrations spent $62 billion to bail out Chrysler and General Motors, “the two automakers employ 16,500 fewer people than they did in 2009.” How can these two statistics — 113,000 new jobs and 16,500 fewer auto workers — simultaneously be true? Foreign automakers with plants in the South have been picking up the slack in hiring. “Automotive employment is shifting away from its traditional base in the Midwest to the southeastern States,” says the BLS in its 2010–11 Career Guide to Industries. “A large number of these assembly plants are owned by foreign automobile makers, known as ‘domestic internationals.’”

Portugal: Center-Right wins election: "Portugal’s Social Democrats unseated the Socialist government in an emphatic election victory yesterday, giving the center-right party a strong mandate to enact a grinding austerity program amid a $114 billion bailout expected to pitch the country into deep recession. Jose Socrates, the Socialist leader and the country’s prime minister for the past six years, conceded before all the results were in. 'The Socialist Party lost these elections,' Socrates said in a speech, adding he would resign as party leader."

Free John Edwards and repeal campaign finance regulatory nonsense: "With the ridiculous criminal indictment of former presidential candidate John Edwards, this would be a good time to call for the repeal of all restrictions on the right of people to donate as much money as they want to political candidates for whatever reason they want. During his presidential campaign, Edwards learned that his mistress was pregnant and wished to keep it secret. He approached a couple of wealthy people, who gave him around million dollars to help hide the affair and the pregnancy."

A primer on the never-ending bust: "With Friday's dismal jobs report — showing a paltry 54,000 increase in nonfarm payroll employment in May — more and more analysts are realizing that the so-called economic 'recovery' is stalling. As Jeffrey Tucker recently pointed out in an important article, Austrians realize that the recession never left. This has all been smoke and mirrors for the last two years"

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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)


6 June, 2011

Nazi propaganda re-emerges in San Francisco

At least since Karl Marx, the Left has been the principal home of antisemitism -- the socialist Hitler not excepted. That Hitler was defeated in WWII did however cause just about everybody to distance themselves from what he stood for. But the old passion among Leftists has remained, albeit submerged for a time. It was submerged for a few decades but after Israel's victory in the 6-day war it began to emerge again, initially as "anti-Zionism" but more and more openly as hatred of Jews in general. Some examples here.

Now at last we seem to have come perilously close to full circle. So far it is only in the Leftist stronghold of San Francisco but as goes California, so goes the country rather often -- JR.

As you may have heard by now, San Francisco will be voting this November on whether or not to ban circumcision in the city. Defenders of the measure say it’s all about “human rights” and “protecting babies” from unnecessary procedures.

But critics suspected there was something vaguely anti-Semitic about the whole proposal, since among Jews (and Muslims, as well) circumcising male babies is a religious duty, not just a mistaken medical procedure. Ban proponents insisted their proposal had nothing to do with Jews — really, it’s all about the rights of children.

Well, any doubt that they were lying have now been dispelled, with the publication of new campaign literature for the upcoming circumcision ban. The campaign comic book, called “Foreskin Man,” after its baby-saving superhero, features a litany of evil Jews doing battle with blond Nordic saviors.

More HERE. See also here

See the first link for graphics. They are too horrible for me to reproduce here. For anybody who knows the portrayal of Jews in the Nazi propaganda of the 1930's, the resemblance to 2011 San Francisco propaganda is unmistakeable. Jews who think they are safe in America are pretty right at the moment but there is no doubt about the direction events are taking. Germany was once seen as a great beacon for Jewish emancipation too -- JR


The Syrian hellhole

IT WAS THE TORTURE of elementary-school students in Deraa that gave momentum to the current Syrian uprising against Bashar al-Assad's brutal regime. The children, some as young as 10, were picked up by security agents for scrawling antigovernment graffiti on a school wall. When they were released days later, there were cigarette burn marks on their bodies, and the fingernails had been pulled from their hands. Word of the torture spread, outraging Syrians and helping fuel further protest. The government's response has been a deadly crackdown with appalling new levels of cruelty.

"The stories we hear now are unimaginable in their brutality," a former Syrian intelligence officer who has turned against the regime told The Wall Street Journal recently. "It is not only to deter protesters. They enjoy hurting people for the sake of it." One such victim, a shopkeeper from Homs, was seized after leaving an antigovernment protest. As described by the Journal, the man was slashed with a scalpel on his back, then stitched up without anesthetic and beaten on the wounds. He was "kept naked and blindfolded in a room packed with detainees and excrement," where he listened to his cousin being burned with a poker, and was told to "kneel in prayer" before a portrait of Assad.

Syria, a human-rights hellhole where more than 1,000 protesters have been murdered in recent weeks, is among the "Worst of the Worst" -- the 17 countries (plus three territories) identified by Freedom House as the most repressive societies on earth. Founded in 1941 to promote freedom and democracy, Freedom House each year publishes a country-by-country survey of civil liberties and political rights in each country in the world. Those surveys show a world notably freer than it was 30 years ago, when the Iron Curtain still stood. But little of that light has penetrated to the nations needing it most.



Young Americans Face A Brutal Summer

Young Americans graduating from colleges across the United States are facing limited job prospects, high debt and the likely necessity of returning home to live with parents in order to survive, a bitter harvest from the Obama Economy.
Our current economic policies that continue to find new and even more inventive ways to punish the prudent, destroy the entrepreneurial , reward the most irresponsible, all while burdening future generations with trillions in new debt. Commencement speeches traditionally focus on bright futures and change and “oh–the-places-you’ll-go” in an optimistic, nationwide, rah-rah as graduates turn their tassels and launch forth to conquer new worlds. Good luck with that.

Closer to the truth would be a stark admission that Obama’s economic policies have failed and the evidence is all around us. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report shows that the jobless rate (despite repeated manipulations of the data by the Obama Administration) has climbed to 9.1%, with decreases in both private and public sector jobs.

Gas prices remain high, averaging almost $4 per gallon across the United States. The Consumer Confidence Index fell to a six-month low, coming in at 60.8 (a rating of 90 shows a healthy economy). The housing market has hit a new low, according to the S&P Case/Schiller Home Price Index, and confirms the existence of a double dip in housing prices across the United States.

Even the United States’ comprehensive scorecard for the economy, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report shows that growth is slow. All of these indicators, on top of the recent BLS jobless report, provide proof that the economy is not growing, the recovery has not happened and that the over $1 trillion dollars that the Obama Administration spent in Stimulus did not stimulate the economy.

Is it any wonder that across the country the morale is low and that Americans think, increasingly, that the federal government is out of touch with the concerns of the average working American?

For minorities, the prospects of a good job are especially bleak; unemployment for white Americans averaged 8.9%, but African Americans averaged 17.5%, just a little more than double the rate of white unemployment. Hispanic Americans reported 11.9% unemployment.

Still, despite the grim outlook for newly minted college grads, these college grads are better off than high school grads. Young teens looking to gain work experience are finding that even low-skilled, part-time, jobs aren’t there. Unions don’t seem to want young people competing for jobs that their adult union members might perform. And, with a high minimum wage, small business owners are hesitant to bring on inexperienced labor in this uncertain economic climate.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ report shows that the hardest hit among all of the unemployed are America’s teens. African Americans, ages 16-19, of both sexes, show a mind-boggling 40.7% unemployed; white teens show 20.7% unemployment and Hispanic teens report 26.1% unemployment. The long-term repercussions of these unemployment numbers are troubling, yet the Obama Administration is curiously silent.

Team Obama has spent trillions of dollars and enormous political capital advancing stimulus plans and other empty calorie policies that have failed to spark employment, especially among America’s young. Instead, Obama’s policies have only further eroded American competitiveness, hindered job creation.

The consequences of a growing and prolonged unemployment within the minority and teen work community, combined with preferential legislation, create a dangerous racial cocktail of time, idleness and increased expectation of entitlements. With the high tax structure and the ever-increasing hostility towards wealth creation, entrepreneurial energies aren’t there and Americans should expect that the jobless situation will only get worse.

Young Americans will likely face the worst summer in recent history. After over two years of “fixes”, the Obama Administration has shown that they are bankrupt of ideas and incapable of providing solutions to the country’s growing problems.



One happy ending

In Florida, a couple that paid cash for their home, and never had a mortgage was foreclosed on by Bank of America. It took 18 months to straighten out and Bank of America agreed to pay the legal expenses of the homeowners.

When the bank did not pay the couple, they foreclosed on Bank of America. A Judge authorized a deputy to seize desks, copiers, and computers that could be sold to pay the expenses.

The foreclosure nightmare started when Warren and Maureen Nyerges paid cash for a home owned by Bank of American in the Golden Gate Estates. They never had a mortgage whatsoever. But, the bank fouled it up and wound up issuing a foreclosure through their attorney.

The couple took their case to court and after a year and a half nightmare the foreclosure was dropped. A Collier County judge said Bank of America has to pay the couple's $2,534 legal fees for the error. After more than five months the bank still hadn't paid up. So, the homeowners' attorney did just what the bank would do to get their money, legally seize their assets.

"I instructed the deputy to go in and take desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets, including cash in the drawers," Attorney Todd Allen told WINK News.

Outside the Bank of America on Davis Boulevard, several deputies stood by with movers ready to start hauling out the bank's office supplies and furniture.

Inside, the homeowners' attorney was locked out of the bank manager's office by deputies while the bank manger tried to figure out what to do.

After about an hour the bank finally cut a check to satisfy the debt, and no furniture was taken. A representative for Bank of America issued a statement saying they are sorry for the delay in issuing funds. They claim the original request went to an outside attorney who is no longer in business.




Appeals court to hear states’ case against ObamaCare: "Of the many legal challenges to the Obama-sponsored health care overhaul, the case brought by 26 states to be heard Wednesday by a federal appeals court in Atlanta stands out. In a lawsuit targeting the rule that all Americans buy health insurance, the states have banded together to claim that Congress exceeded its power and tread on states' domain."

Israeli troops fire on Golan Hts. invaders: "Israeli soldiers fired on protesters trying to breach the country’s frontier fence with Syria on the anniversary of the 1967 Middle East War. At least 20 people were killed, according to Syrian state television. Some 277 people were wounded, including 12 in critical condition, the television said. ... Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today that security forces would act with 'determination' to prevent 'extremist elements in the region' from penetrating the frontier."

Even liberal Washington Post casts doubt on auto bailouts: "As the Washington Post editorial board, which has not endorsed a Republican for president since 1952, noted, the bailout sent a harmful 'message' that the automakers are 'too big to fail.' And the bailouts might not have been necessary to save most auto jobs, since even 'If GM and Chrysler had failed, their profitable parts would, eventually, have been bought up and put to work by others … expanding production and hiring workers in the process. Government dollars spent propping up the two automakers might have created jobs elsewhere.'"

Did the recession ever really go away?: "Housing prices hitting 2002 levels, unemployment still at 9 percent, private-sector job growth flat, and retail sales still struggling: these are headlines that few expected three years ago. The prevailing theory in Washington was that the recession was somehow precipitated (and therefore vaguely caused) by the crash in housing prices, and many big and small tricks were used to goose the market. But the price system has once again proven to be the greatest and most persistent practitioner of civil disobedience on the planet."

Government salaries reach obscene levels: "Anyone who claims government employees need unions clearly is unaware of how well federal workers, who do not have collective bargaining rights, are paid. A new report by the Congressional Research Service reported that 77,057 federal workers earned more than their state’s chief executive in 2009. To make matters worse, the report, requested by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., does not even include federal employees at the Central Intelligence Agency, the Postal Service and other agencies"

Fiscal frat boys in DC should listen to women: "The movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding has a wonderful scene in which the mother tells her daughter in a thick Greek accent that 'the man is the head [of the house], but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants.' Most of us gave a knowing chuckle at that one, because we know that women are the guardians of our families in many ways, including financial stability. ... Therefore, women who make tough pocketbook choices every day are appalled by men in Washington who won’t do the same -- even to the point of threatening the solvency of future generations."

Private governance and the shadow of the state: "In the 18th century, the government refused to enforce stock exchange contracts, seeing them as a form of gambling. Nevertheless, the Coffeehouse became a centre of commerce and contracts were usually upheld voluntarily. If you were a trader, you could rip somebody off once, but would be barred from the club. For people whose livelihoods were based on stock trading, it wasn't worth it. The same phenomenon exists today in a whole range of exchanges."

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. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Humpty Obumpty and the Arab Spring

By Spengler

I've been warning for months that Egypt, Syria, Tunisia and other Arab oil-importing countries face a total economic meltdown (see Food and failed Arab states, Feb 2, and The hunger to come in Egypt, May 10). Now the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has confirmed my warnings.

The leaders of the industrial nations waited until last weekend's Group of Eight (G-8) summit to respond, and at the initiative of United States President Barack Obama proposed what sounds like a massive aid program but probably consists mainly of refurbishing old programs.

The egg has splattered, and all of Obumpty's horses and men can't mend it. Even the G-8's announcement was fumbled; Canada's Prime Minister Steven Harper refused to commit new money, a dissonant note that routine diplomatic preparation would have pre-empted.

The numbers thrown out by the IMF are stupefying. "In the current baseline scenario," wrote the IMF on May 27, "the external financing needs of the region's oil importers is projected to exceed $160 billion during 2011-13." That's almost three years' worth of Egypt's total annual imports as of 2010. As of 2010, the combined current account deficit (that is, external financing needs) of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia was about $15 billion a year.

What the IMF says, in effect, is that the oil-poor Arab economies - especially Egypt - are not only broke, but dysfunctional, incapable of earning more than a small fraction of their import bill. The disappearance of tourism is an important part of the problem, but shortages of fuel and other essentials have had cascading effects throughout these economies.

"In the next 18 months," the IMF added, "a greater part of these financing needs will need to be met from the international community because of more cautious market sentiments during the uncertain transition."

Translation: private investors aren't stupid enough to throw money down a Middle Eastern rat-hole, and now that the revolutionary government has decided to make a horrible example of deposed president Hosni Mubarak, anyone who made any money under his regime is cutting and running. At its May 29 auction of treasury bills, Egypt paid about 12% for short-term money, to its own captive banking system. Its budget deficit in the next fiscal year, the government says, will exceed $30 billion.

And the IMF's $160 billion number is only "external financing"; that is, maintaining imports into a busted economy. It doesn't do a thing to repair busted economies that import half their caloric intake, as do the oil-poor Arab nations.

Egypt's economy is in free fall. Its biggest foreign exchange earner was a tourist industry that won't come back for a decade, if ever. The IMF's $160 billion doesn't take into account the costs of teaching two-fifths of the Egyptian population to read, or raising crop yields to more than a fifth of American levels, or training university graduates to do more than stamp identity cards and shuffle papers. As the international organization made clear, this is what Egypt and its neighbors require merely to pay for essential imports.

Of course, the IMF's admission that Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and Yemen can't meet the majority of their import bill without foreign aid does not increase the probability that these countries will obtain financing on that scale. On May 30, the IMF announced that it would lend $3 billion to Egypt - a tenth of its budget deficit - sometime in June. The G-8 offered the grandiose pledge of $20 billion in their own money along with $20 billion from the IMF, World Bank, and so forth, to support the "Arab Spring", with the dissension of the Canadian prime minister. But it is unclear whether that represents new money, or a shuffling of existing aid commitments, or nothing whatever.

Whatever the Group of Eight actually had in mind, the proposed aid package for the misnomered Arab Spring has already become a punching bag for opposition budget-cutters. "Should we be borrowing money from China to turn around and give it to the Muslim Brotherhood?" Sarah Palin asked on May 27.

"Now, given that Egypt has a history of corruption when it comes to utilizing American aid, it is doubtful that the money will really help needy Egyptian people. Couple that with the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is organized to have a real shot at taking control of Egypt’s government, and one has to ask why we would send money (that we don't have) into unknown Egyptian hands," the former Republican vice-presidential candidate added.

Whether any amount of foreign aid will stabilize Egypt's economic position is questionable, even if the industrial nations and the Arab Gulf states opened their purses, which is doubtful.

From Arab-language online media, it appears that Egypt's economic troubles have metastasized. Last month, rice disappeared from public storehouses amid press reports that official food distribution organizations were selling the grain by the container on the overseas market. Last week, diesel fuel was the scarce commodity, with 24-hour queues forming around gasoline stations. Foreign tankers were waiting at Port Said on the Suez Canal to pump diesel oil from storage facilities, as government officials sold the scarce commodity for cash.

This is the sort of general breakdown I observed in 1992 in Russia, following the collapse of the communist government. As an adviser to finance minister Yegor Gaidar, I heard stories of Russian officials selling unregistered trainloads of raw materials on foreign markets and depositing the proceeds in Swiss banking accounts. Anything of value that could find a buyer overseas was sold. I didn't last long as an adviser; looting and pillaging wasn't my area of competence. Russia, it should be recalled, is largely self-sufficient in food and is among the world's largest oil producers, while Egypt imports half its food. Russia had enormous resources on which to draw. Egypt, Syria and Tunisia have nothing.

For 60 years, the Egyptian army and associated crony capitalists ran the economy as a private preserve. Although the army remains in nominal charge, the public humiliation of Mubarak serves notice on the previous masters of Egypt's little universe that they are as vulnerable as their former patron. Everyone who can get out will and will take with them whatever they can.

Syria is also vulnerable to hunger, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned May 23. "Continuing unrest in Syria will not only affect economic growth but could disrupt food distribution channels leading to severe localized shortages in main markets," according to the FAO. ''Syria hosts one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world, including nearly one million Iraqis who have become more vulnerable because of rising food and fuel prices."

Nearly 700,000 Libyan refugees have reached Libya and Egypt, fleeing their country's civil war. At least 30,000 Tunisian refugees (and likely many more) have overwhelmed camps in Italy, and perhaps a tenth of that number have drowned in the attempt to reach Europe. A large but unknown number of Syrian refugees have fled to Lebanon and Turkey.

Robert Fisk wrote in the London Independent on May 30 that Turkey fears a mass influx of Syrian Kurdish refugees, so that "Turkish generals have thus prepared an operation that would send several battalions of Turkish troops into Syria itself to carve out a 'safe area' for Syrian refugees inside Assad's caliphate." The borders of the affected nations have begun to dissolve along with their economies. It will get worse fast.



Israel as a GROWING Middle Eastern hegemon

Spengler indulges below in some straight-line extrapolation. Such extrapolations are almost always wrong but in this case it has considerable plausibility -- JR

Like the vanishing point in a perspective painting, long-term projections help us order our perceptions of what we see in front of us today. Here's one to think about, fresh from the just-released update of the United Nations' population forecasts: At constant fertility, Israel will have more young people by the end of this century than either Turkey or Iran, and more than German, Italy or Spain.

With a total fertility rate of three children per woman, Israel's total population will rise to 24 million by the end of the present century. Iran's fertility is around 1.7 and falling, while the fertility for ethnic Turks is only 1.5 (the Kurdish minority has a fertility rate of around 4.5).

Not that the size of land armies matters much in an era of high-tech warfare, but if present trends continue, Israel will be able to field the largest land army in the Middle East. That startling data point, though, should alert analysts to a more relevant problem: among the military powers in the Middle East, Israel will be the only one with a viable population structure by the middle of this century.

That is why it is in America's interest to keep Israel as an ally. Israel is not only the strongest power in the region; in a generation or two it will be the only power in the region, the last man standing among ruined neighbors. The demographic time bomb in the region is not the Palestinian Arabs on the West Bank, as the Israeli peace party wrongly believed, but rather Israel itself.

The right way to read this projection is backwards: Israelis love children and have lots of them because they are happy, optimistic and prosperous. Most of Israel's population increase comes from so-called "secular" Israelis, who have 2.6 children on average, more than any other people in the industrial world. The ultra-Orthodox have seven or eight, bringing total fertility to three children.

Europeans, Turks and Iranians, by contrast, have very few children because they are grumpy, alienated and pessimistic. It's not so much the projection of the demographic future cranked out by the United Nations computers that counts, but rather the implicit vision of the future in the minds of today's prospective parents.

People who can't be bothered to have children presumably have a very dim view of days to come. Reams have been written, to be sure, about Europe's demographic tailspin. Less has been said about Persian pessimism and Anatolian anomie.

Paradoxically, this makes Israel's present position dangerous, for its enemies understand that they have a very brief window in which to encircle the Jewish superpower. The collapse of Egypt and possibly that of Syria shortens this window. Nothing short of American support for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state on the 1949 armistice lines followed by economic sanctions against Israel, though, is likely to make a difference, and this seems unlikely.

Israel already is a high-tech superpower. Israeli leads the Group of 7 industrial nations in patent applications. As Professor Reuven Brenner of McGill University wrote in the January 2010 issue of First Things:

"Today Israel's venture capital industry still raises more funds than any other venue except the United States. In 2006 alone, 402 Israeli hi-tech companies raised over $1.62 billion - the highest amount in the past five years. That same year, Israel had 80 active venture capital funds and over $10 billion under management, invested in over 1,000 Israeli start-ups."

Maintaining the stunning progress of the past decade will be a challenge, because Israel's high-tech sector received a one-time boost from Russian emigration. As Brenner observes:

"Of the million Russians who moved to Israel during the 1980s and 1990s, more than 55 percent had post-secondary education, and more than half held academic and managerial positions in their former country ... This made Israel the world leader in the scientist and engineer workforce, followed by the United States with 80 and Germany with 55 scientists and engineers per 10,000 members of its labor force."

Israel's prowess in the arts matches its accomplishments in technology and business. Israel has become something of a superpower in that most characteristically Western art form, classical music. In a July 21, 2010, survey of Israeli music for the webzine Tablet, I wrote, "Israelis take to classical music - the art form that most clearly creates a sense of the future - like no other people on earth, to the point that music has become part of Israel's character, an embodiment of the national genius for balancing hope and fear."

Israel has one the largest local audience for chamber music recitals of any country in the world, and its leading musicians occupy top slots around the world - for example Guy Braunstein, concertmaster (principal violin) of the Berlin Philharmonic.

This, I believe, explains the implacable hostility of Israel's neighbors, as well as the Europeans. It is the unquenchable envy of the dying towards the living. Having failed at Christianity, and afterward failed at neo-pagan nationalism, Europe has reconciled itself to a quiet passage into oblivion.

Israel's success is a horrible reminder of European failure; its bumptious nationalism grates against Europe's determination to forget its own ugly embrace of nationalism; and its implicitly religious raison d'etre provokes post-Christian rage. Above all, it offends Europe that Israel brims with life. Some of Europe's great nations may not survive the present century. At constant fertility, Israel will have more citizens than any of the Eastern European countries where large numbers of Jews resided prior to the Holocaust.

In the constant fertility scenario, Israel will end the century at a median age of 32, while Poland will have a median age of 57. That is an inherently impossible outcome, because in that case most of Poland's population would be elderly dependents. To support them, the remaining young people would have to emigrate and work overseas (perhaps in Israel).

The Muslim world, meanwhile, is turning grey at an unprecedented rate. Turkey's and Iran's median age will surpass the 40-year mark by mid-century, assuming constant fertility, while Israel's will stabilize in the mid-30s. Europe will become an impoverished geriatric ward.

The implications of these trends have not escaped the leaders of the affected countries. "If we continue the existing trend, 2038 will mark disaster for us," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned in May 2010

I do not know whether Erdogan chose the year 2038 by statistical projection, or whether he consulted the Muslim counterpart of Harold Camping, but it will do as well as any. Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, has warned repeatedly of "national extinction" if the country's low birth rate persists.

What happens to Egypt and Syria in this scenario is of small importance. Neither country will come out of the present crisis in any condition to fight, if they come out of it at all. Egypt's social structure - with two-fifths of the country immured in extreme rural poverty, and another quarter starving on thin subsidies in Cairo and Alexandria - simply is not viable.

There is no civil society underneath the military. The collapse of Mubarak's military dictatorship came about when food price inflation revealed its incapacity to meet the population's basic needs. But the collapse of military rule and the flight of the army-linked oligarchy that milked the Egyptian economy for 60 years is a near-term disaster.

In place of the orderly corruption over which Mubarak presided, there is a scramble on the part of half-organized political groups to get control of the country's shrinking supply of basic goods. Civic violence likely will claim more lives than hunger.

Refugees from Libya and Tunisia have swamped the refugee camps on the closest Italian island, and hundreds have drowned in small boats attempting to cross the Mediterranean. By the end of this year, tourists on the Greek islands may see thousands of small boats carrying hungry Egyptians seeking help. Europe's sympathy for the Arab side may vanish under an inundation of refugees.


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Will Afghanistan be Vietnam all over again?

Vietnam was a casualty of American politics, not a loss by the troops in the field

Most Americans don’t realize how far President Obama has bowed down to the Taliban – and that he is potentially setting them up to rule Afghanistan.

While the fact that we are negotiating with the Taliban has been fleetingly covered here in America, a search of Lexis-Nexis shows that the rest of the story about the concessions we have offered them has been virtually blacked out by the mainstream media in the US. Things are so bad that we now aren’t even requiring that they renounce their ties to al-Qaida before we negotiate with them.

You’d have to read British newspapers to learn that, and about how they have humiliated our president and British Prime Minister David Cameron on the national stage in negotiation.

The Obama administration is so desperate to appease the Islamist savages and cut a peace deal with them that US negotiators no longer require preconditions of Taliban fighters we negotiate with -- like that they halt the killing of innocent civilians and our troops or break with al Qaida, The Telegraph of London reports.

Apparently, terrorist attacks on US soil aren’t off limits either. Incredibly, these “negotiations” with the Taliban began last fall, just five months after the attempted Times Square bombing attack by Faisal Shahzad, which was funded by the Taliban.

US negotiators and their British counterparts aren’t even requiring that the Taliban embrace the Afghan constitution our troops and many Afghans paid for with blood. Worse yet, they are aiming to turn control of the county at least partly over to the Taliban in a “shared power” deal, essentially throwing the Afghan people to the wolves.

Meanwhile our troops continue to die fighting for what the Obama administration is giving away at the negotiating table as they take bullets enforcing the Afghan constitution. The Taliban killed four US soldiers and 42 innocent civilians in bombings at hospital and construction sites this month, and were recently caught attempting to smuggle suicide bombers as young as nine years old into the country.

If the American public got the full story on this, they’d be outraged. The Taliban, meanwhile, are so emboldened that they have even demanded we release 20 prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay holding facility as part of negotiations, one of the few details of these negotiations that have actually been reported by the US press.

Then last week the Taliban humiliated Obama and Cameron during their European summit on Afghanistan. Despite our over- the-top concessions, upper level Taliban leaders refused to show up to highly publicized “peace” talks in Germany after deciding they didn’t want to well, talk. (Talks thus far talks had been with mid- level leaders.) News that the Taliban jilted Obama at the negotiating table filled European papers just as Obama’s entourage hit the continent.

They way the Taliban see it, The Telegraph reports, “they can simply sit it out and wait for victory in 2014,” when troops are scheduled to exit.

An aide to Taliban leader Mullah Omar explained the group’s position in November.

“All of these reports of peace talks are nonsense,” Mullah Aminullah told NBC News. “This is just propaganda by the U.S. and its NATO allies to hide their defeat on the battlefield. We are winning, why should we negotiate?”

The Taliban have been laughing since Secretary of State Hillary Clinton first proposed negotiating with the “moderate” members of the Taliban in 2009.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid called this a “lunatic idea,” insisting that there were no moderate Taliban. “They have to go and find the moderate Taliban, their leader, and speak to them,” he told Reuters.

It’s baffling as well to many British observers why we would want or need a make a deal with the Taliban at all as part of exiting Afghanistan. "British and US strategy should be about containing terrorism, not brokering a final peace,” Tory MP Rory Stewart told the paper.

Still Obama and Cameron plow ahead, pushing for what the British papers call a “political solution.” By that they mean one that will make Obama look great … to America’s enemies.



Obama is borrowing and printing money like there is no tomorrow

Responsible government finance has vanished

The U.S. has already defaulted on its debts. We’re just all politely pretending that we haven’t. But we have.

According to Pimco, last year, the Federal Reserve — a central bank printing press — bought 70 percent of Treasury debt. The year before, it bought 80 percent. Where did the money come from? Out of thin air.

This is the “pretended payment” on sovereign debt that economist Adam Smith warned against, which he wrote in The Wealth of Nations “has gradually enfeebled every state which has adopted it.” To him, increasing the money supply to pay the debt was substantively no different than a public bankruptcy.

So, while the Fed dresses up its actions as targeting unemployment or maintaining its balance sheet, the real reason for QE2 has been to prop up the U.S. Treasury from a catastrophic default, just as the European Central Bank (ECB) has been propping up Greece, Ireland, and Portugal.

And as the bank assures the American people it will not be engaging in QE3, its treasuries holdings will continue to rise from their current $1.5 trillion level after QE2 ends in June. It’s already the world’s largest lender to the U.S. government, more than China or Japan. So how can it become an even larger sovereign lender?

It still has $922 billion of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) left over from its $1.25 trillion bailout to financial institutions all over the world. It has been slowly selling them off, and replacing them with more treasuries purchases. So, we should continue to expect more of that over the next year. The Fed will continue monetizing the debt — i.e. printing money to pay principal and interest owed on the $14.3 trillion national debt.



Obama rewrites history in pursuit of making Muslim friends

Barack Obama is clearly obsessed with currying favor with the Muslim world. This obsession prompts Obama to periodically insult Israel (the only democracy in the Middle East and America's only real ally there) and, more egregiously, misrepresents America's history with the Muslim world. This reduces America's standing abroad and weakens our security.

Obama's misrepresentation of America's history with Muslims is best exemplified by his first television interview as president in January 2009 and his June 2009 speech in Cairo, Egypt.

Obama's first television interview as president was with the Saudi-funded Arabic network Al Arabiya. During this interview, Obama told the Muslim world that America is not their enemy, America has made mistakes, America has not been perfect, and that America needs to re-establish the respect and partnership that it had with the Muslim world 20 or 30 years ago.

Obama ignored that our history with the Muslim world since 1979 is replete with Islamic terrorist attacks on America, including:

1979 - Iranian terrorists held American diplomats hostage in Tehran, the government of Iran was (and still is) a state sponsor of terrorism, Iran's leader Ayatollah Khomeini declared war on the United States, and thousands of Iranians paraded through Tehran shouting "Death to America."

1983 - Hezbollah bombed the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine Headquarters in Beirut, killing 257 Americans and 58 French soldiers.

1993 - al Qaeda bombed the World Trade Center, killing six.

1998 - al Qaeda bombed two U.S. embassies in Africa, killing 224.

2001 - the September 11 attacks by al Qaeda killed 2,977.

Conversely, over the last 30 years America has repeatedly come to the aid of threatened Muslims. Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan are some examples.

Why didn't Obama ever mention this?

In his Cairo speech, Obama called for a new beginning in relations between America and the Muslim world. Obama then said that Western democratic colonialism was the root cause of the problems with Islamic countries in the Middle East.

Actually, Islamic authoritarianism and corruption are the real root causes of the problems that have plagued the Middle East for centuries.

Even more egregious was Obama's misrepresentation of the conflict between Islam and the West. Obama said that Islam has a tradition of tolerance and used the conduct of Muslims in Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition to illustrate this point. However, Obama ignored that both cities were governed by Christians during the Inquisition, not Muslims, and Islam was the aggressor during the Middle Ages, not Christianity. It is often overlooked that the much-criticized Crusades were a Christian self-defense effort.

Obama also claimed, "In the United States, rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation. That's why I'm committed to working with American-Muslims to ensure they can fulfill zakat."

Obama is wrong for two reasons.

First, there are no American laws that make it harder for Muslims to give to charity. America has laws against material support of terrorism - against using charities as fronts to channel money to jihadists. Those laws are not directed at Muslims. They apply to everyone but are applied most often to Muslims - because Muslims carry out most anti-American terrorism.

Second, Obama's claim that the religious obligation of zakat is the equivalent of "charitable giving" is incorrect. Zakat is every Muslim's obligation to contribute to the fortification of the ummah, the theoretical worldwide Islamic nation - which includes the funding of violent jihad against non-Muslims.

So what has the misrepresentation of America's history with the Muslim world produced? Nothing.

There has been no change in the Muslim world's relationship with and perception of America. The governments of Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Palestine, among others, are still openly hostile to America. Iran is openly developing nuclear weapons to use against the U.S. and Israel. Muslim extremists are attempting to take control of Egypt, Libya and other nations currently experiencing uprisings.

America does not need more outreach to the Muslim world by Obama. Instead, America needs Obama to support Israel and stand up to the Muslim world and demand that it takes action against its extremists and terrorists to stop their murderous and destructive activities against America and our allies.



Obama's Job Recession

Political advantage can be fleeting. A couple of months ago, during the winter quarter, job gains looked to be picking up, unemployment was easing lower, and President Obama’s reelection hopes looked more secure. But things sure have changed.

In recent weeks, a whole bunch of new economic stats have been pointing to a sputtering economy -- maybe even an inflation-prone, less-than-2-percent-growth recession. Stocks have dropped five straight weeks, as they look toward slower growth, jobs, and profits out to year end. And Friday’s jobs report didn’t buck these trends.

“Anemic” is the adjective being tossed around the media. According to the Labor Department, nonfarm payrolls increased a meager 54,000 in May, while private payrolls gained only 83,000. A week or two ago, Wall Street expected 200,000-plus new jobs. Didn’t happen.

Perhaps the most telling weakness in the jobs report comes from the household survey, which is made up of self-employed workers. Think of mom-and-pop owned stores and small businesses. Think of the Main Street entrepreneurial families who make up the backbone of the economy, and for the matter the country. And they vote, too.

Well, household jobs increased a paltry 105,000 in May, after falling 190,000 in April. The jobless rate is determined by the household survey, and you really need a couple hundred thousand new household jobs a month -- at least -- to lower unemployment. And you really need about 300,000 household jobs a month to put a little torque behind the Main Street economy. But with the lackluster May report, the unemployment rate edged up to 9.1 percent from last month’s 9 percent and March’s 8.8 percent.

Suddenly President Obama has gone from reelect to big trouble. The economic rug has been pulled out from underneath him.

So what changed in the last couple of months or so? Answer: A nasty oil-, gasoline-, and commodity-price shock. It’s eating away at economic growth and jobs. It’s stalling the economy. And it has cut into consumer real incomes and business profits.

Much of this problem can be traced to the failure of the Federal Reserve’s QE2 pump-priming campaign. QE2 has not produced growth, but it has produced inflation. In fact, the consumer price index over the past four or five months has been running close to 6 percent annually.

And most of that new Fed money has served merely to depreciate the dollar. And most of those cheaper dollars are on deposit at the Federal Reserve, where banks are earning 25 basis points for safety and risk aversion. In other words, the majority of that new money is not circulating throughout the economy. It’s a boneheaded Fed stimulus, and it has done more harm than good.

That said, in a larger sense, the failure to ignite small-business job creation has to be laid at the doorstep of the Obama administration, and the economic policies that threaten higher taxes and regulations virtually across the board. On Thursday this week, the president again promised House Democrats to raise taxes on successful top small-business owners. What a great new idea.

So mom and pop don’t feel like taking a risk in this environment. Higher tax-and-regulatory costs have put these entrepreneurs in survival mode. They’re playing their economic cards so close to the vest, business activity has buttoned up tight.

What you want is for people to take their suit jackets off, roll up their shirt sleeves, and go out there and build. But people are hunkering down, not building.

Bear with me for few more jobs stats.

Since the household-survey employment peak back in November 2007, 6.8 million jobs have been lost. Since the so-called end of the recession in June 2009, 199,000 jobs, on balance, have disappeared. And so far this year, household employment has increased by a total of 573,000, which is about 115,000 a month. That’s only one-third of what’s needed to bring down unemployment significantly.

The bottom line is that there hasn’t really been a jobs recovery. President Obama is going to have to own that. But the question is, both in Congress and on the campaign trail, does the GOP have a pro-growth jobs program that will get Main Street mom and pops to roll up their sleeves once again?


My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Disease Causes Autocracy?

One of the best established facts in economics is that a reduction in government power and control leads to an increase in economic prosperity. See post-Thatcher Britain or Post-Deng China for obvious examples. And because the loosening of control PRECEDES the prosperity we have good grounds for saying which one causes the other.

In the "research" below however we have no such clear causal arrow. All they have to report is correlations. They show an association between autocracy and poverty and arbitrarily assert from that that poverty causes autocracy. But they have no evidence to support that assertion. It could be the other way around.

Since the good causal evidence we have from (say) Britain and China points to the arrow of causation working the other way around they are really pissing into the wind. Not only is there no evidence FOR their assertion but there is clear evidence AGAINST it!

But why should I point that out? Why should I argue against the claim that autocratic people are poor, stupid, unhealthy and worm-infested? I suspect that the researchers below mean to imply that it is conserrvatives who are autocratic but the truth is of course the reverse. All the great autocrats of the 20th century, from Lenin, through Hitler to Mao and Pol Pot were socialists! So if the research shows anything, it shows that Leftism is produced by poor health, worm infestations etc! And it is certainly true that the poor and worm-infested countries of Africa are almost aways dictatorships.

You will however note in the report below a lot of emphasis on ethnocentrism and xenophobia -- and that is the old Leftist race-card again. Leftists are sure that conservatives are racists so the fact that autocratic societies tend to be suspicious of foreigners makes them conservative! But is there any parallel in conservative-run countries to the Russia's mass murder of Kulaks, Hitler's mass-murder of Jews or the late Soviet regime's discrimination against Jews? There is none. Leftist talk the talk about the "fear of others" but they don't walk the walk. Conservatives just get on with judging people by their individual merits.

So it's all rather fun below but proof of anything it is not

A group of researchers led by Harvard University economist Jeffrey Sachs recently noted that a billion people live on less than a dollar per day and “are roughly as poor today as their ancestors were thousands of years ago.” Why?

The researchers suggest that high disease burdens create persistent poverty traps from which poor people cannot extricate themselves. High disease incidence lowers their economic productivity so that they can’t afford to create the resources needed to improve sanitation and medical care, which in turn leaves them vulnerable to more disease. And so it goes.

University of New Mexico anthropologists Randy Thornhill and Corey Fincher pushed the disease thesis further with their “parasite hypothesis of democratization,” arguing that disease not only keeps people poor, but it also makes them illiberal. The two researchers test this hypothesis “using publicly available data measuring democratization, collectivism–individualism, gender egalitarianism, property rights, sexual restrictiveness, and parasite prevalence across many countries of the world.” The idea is that the lower the disease burden, the more likely a society is to be liberal.

Thornhill and Fincher argue that the risk of infectious disease affects the willingness of elites to share power and resources, the general social acceptance of hierarchal authority, and the openness of innovation. Their central idea is that ethnocentrism and out-group avoidance function as a kind of behavioral immune system. Just as individuals have immune systems that fight against pathogens, groups of people similarly evolve with local parasites and develop some resistance to them. People who are not members of one’s group may carry new diseases to which the group has not developed defenses. “Thus, xenophobia, as a defensive adaptation against parasites to which there is an absence of local adaptation, is expected to be most pronounced in regions of high parasite stress,” assert Thornhill and Fincher.

In another study, they find that where disease prevalence has been historically high, cultures tend toward collectivist values such as ethnocentrism and conformity. Why? Because these inward-looking cultural values inhibit the transmission of diseases.

Using prevalence data for 22 diseases, the researchers find a correlation with a number of cultural values, including democratization, property rights, gender equality, and sexual liberalization. Where disease prevalence remains high, autocracy reigns, property rights are weak, women have fewer rights, and sexual behavior is restricted.

Disease prevalence lessens the further one gets away from the equator. Thus, Thornhill and Fincher argue that it is not surprising that the development of democratic institutions began in high latitude Western Europe and North America. In 1820, Britain’s average life expectancy of 40 years was the highest in Europe; France's was 37 years and Germany's 32 years. (Britons and American colonists had more available calories per capita which also boosted their ability to fight off disease.)

Furthermore, Thornhill and Fincher assert that more recent advances in medicine and public health are similarly implicated in the post-1950s wave of liberalization that swept over the United States and Western Europe. The advent of penicillin, polio vaccines, the elimination of malaria, chlorination of drinking water, and the reduction in foodborne illnesses all combined to dramatically reduce disease prevalence.

The authors suggest that if people actually experience few infections as they grow up, they perceive strangers and novel ways of life as safe. Tolerance and the embrace of social, economic, and technological innovation follow. They note that areas of the world in which disease rates remain high have not experienced this trend toward liberalization.

A new study led by University of Maryland psychologist Michele Gelfand published last week in Science looks at the “differences between cultures that are tight (have many strong norms and a low tolerance for deviant behavior) versus loose (have weak social norms and a high tolerance for deviant behavior).” In this case, Gelfand and her colleagues consider a wider number of possible threats including disease prevalence, but also population density, resource scarcity, and territorial conflicts.

Again, adversity correlates with higher levels of social conformity, autocratic rule, religiousness, and media control. Of the 33 countries in Gelfand’s survey, Pakistan scored highest on tightness (12.3 points) while the least tight country was Ukraine (1.6 point). The United States scored a pretty loose 5.1 points.

Disease causes autocracy, in turn causing poverty, resulting in more disease, producing continued autocracy, and so on. However, if Sachs, Thornhill, Fincher, and even to some extent Gelfand is right, then reducing disease burdens in a country would promote the rise of liberal institutions. In fact, Fincher and Thornhill explicitly conclude, “If the parasite hypothesis of democratization is supported by additional research, humanitarian efforts to reduce human rights violations and to increase human liberties and democracy in general will be most effective if focused on the most fundamental causal level of infectious disease reduction.” Unfortunately, ignorant ethnocentrism has gotten in the way of eradicating diseases like polio.



If A Liberal And A Tea Partier Had Been Aboard The Titanic

Tea Partier: Alert the captain! There's a huge iceberg up ahead and we're headed straight for it! If we don't turn the ship aside now, we're doomed!

Liberal: Well, that's not a very popular message. I mean, turning the ship aside would require interrupting the shuffleboard tournament.

Tea Partier: The whole ship is going to be shuffling off to the bottom of the ocean if we don't change course!

Liberal: You're probably just saying that because the captain's black.

Tea Partier: What? That's crazy!

Liberal: That's exactly what a racist would say in this situation.

Tea Partier: What does not wanting to hit an iceberg have to do with hating our captain because he's black?

Liberal: For someone who doesn't hate black people, you sure do talk about racism and the captain being black a lot....

Tea Partier: But, I was just defending myself from you....look, nevermind. Do you know what that iceberg will do to this ship? It will sink us to the bottom of the ocean! We've got to steer around it.

Liberal: Sink us? That's so overblown. I mean, conceivably it could sink us, but it would probably just scratch the paint.

Tea Partier: Hitting an iceberg? Scratch the paint? Do you know that...okay, forget that, you admitted it could conceivably sink us. So, you agree we need to do something about it now?

Liberal: I don't know. People have really been looking forward to that shuffleboard tournament.

Tea Partier: Are you crazy? What happens if the iceberg sinks us?

Liberal: It would all work out. Somebody would take care of it.

Tea Partier: Who? Who would take care of it?

Liberal: Somebody or another.

Tea Partier: We're in the middle of the ocean. There's no one around to help us. Even if there were another ship nearby, we're so big that other ships couldn't handle rescuing us.

Liberal: It would have been nice if you'd mentioned this before. You know, back when the ship had a white captain.

Tea Partier: I did! I pointed it out over and over again and when no one would listen, I got louder about it. Then, when we got closer to the iceberg and speeded up instead of slowing down, I started really trying to get people to do something.

Liberal: Oh, yes, how convenient. Right when we got a black captain, you conveniently got upset about it. You worried this big old ship will hurt your WHITE iceberg?

Tea Partier: Are you out of your mind? That iceberg is going to tear this ship in half.

Liberal: I'm not very comfortable with the violent language you're using. "Tear this ship in half" -- I mean, what if somebody overheard you and that language got their primitive psycho brains all excited?

Tea Partier: Let me repeat this very slowly so that you'll understand. We're. Headed. For. An. Iceberg. If. We. Hit. It. We'll. Sink. We've. Got. To. Change. Course.

Liberal: Okay, okay, let's call the other passengers over. (Yells) Everybody come on over here. We've got a bit of a situation.

Crowd of Passengers: We're here. What's the problem?

Liberal: This guy I'm talking to here? Yes, him. He hates black people, he hates shuffleboard, and he's trying to incite violence, all for no reason whatsoever.

Crowd of Passengers: That's terrible!

Tea Partier: Wait a second -- none of that's true. Folks, we're headed towards an iceberg! The ship is going to sink. We've got to change direction right now if we don't want to hit it. Even he admits that we're in trouble!

Crowd of Passengers: An iceberg? On no! Maybe we better do something!

Liberal: Hey, everybody, there's nothing to worry about and we don't want to miss the shuffleboard tournament, do we? If there was something to be alarmed about, surely I wouldn't be acting as if it were no big deal, would I? Tell you what, drinks are on me at the bar! Let's go have the night of our lives! (Everyone except the Tea Partier goes to the bar. He heads to a rowboat)

(2 hours later, the liberal and the Tea Partier are sitting on a rowboat)

Liberal: Wow, I can't believe that iceberg sunk the ship! If only someone could have seen it coming...

Tea Partier: I SAW it coming. I tried to warn you.

Liberal: Yes, yes, we all agreed that icebergs could be a danger. But, everyone wanted to play shuffleboard instead of dealing with it.

Tea Partier: No, YOU wanted to play shuffleboard! I wanted to change course!

Liberal: Come on, change course? That was completely impractical.

Tea Partier: No, it wasn't impractical. We could have done it. If you'd listened, the ship would be fine!

Liberal: Wow, in a situation like this, you're looking for someone to blame? That's terrible. How about we set aside politics, stop pointing fingers, and start figuring out how to deal with this disaster?

Tea Partier: Well, I guess we could...

Liberal: Besides, it's obvious the corporations are responsible for this. They build a boat, they cut corners to make more obscene profits, and who gets screwed? The little guys! We need more regulations to prevent this sort of thing and obviously we have to sue.

Tea Partier: Sigh...while you're planning that out, let's go pick up those women on that wreckage over there.

Liberal: That's not something we should do personally, is it? I mean, that's really more of a job for the crew, isn't it?

Tea Partier: Well, since you dressed like a woman to make it on this lifeboat, it seems fair that we should actually pick up some real women in distress, doesn't it?



Unemployment Hits 9.1%: "The unemployment rate increased to 9.1% in the month of May. “There should not be any remaining doubters that Obama’s big government spending and the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policies are two of the most disastrous economic policies in American history. “Almost 14 million people who want a job can’t find one, as the number of unemployed jumped by 167,000 people in the past month. Almost 20 percent of the workforce is either unemployed or working part time when they want a full-time job. Obama’s economic plan has been tried and has failed.

Obamacare’s Big Brother: Accountable Care Organizations: "Suppose President Obama declared he would tackle rising food prices by forcing everyone to eat at government-supervised restaurant chains. Small restaurants would be nudged to merge with national ones. Bureaucrats would monitor menu items and prices. Restaurants would record orders in a central database to ensure meals adhered to federal nutrition guidelines. Most Americans would be outraged at such infringements of their basic freedoms. Yet this is precisely the approach the Obama administration is taking by pushing doctors and hospitals into government-supervised Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

There IS a way to get both Greece and the USA out of bankruptcy

Though no-one says it would be popular

Martin Hutchinson

In the endless negotiations about Greece’s approach to bankruptcy, EU leaders suggested last week that a “fund of experts” might take over $200 billion or more worth of Greek state assets, with a view to speeding their privatization and repaying much of Greece’s staggering debt load. The idea has some merit, as it reverses the recent erosion in creditors’ positions in national defaults. It would also be applicable in much larger cases, notably including that of the United States.

Whereas national bankruptcy laws have for centuries provided creditors with solid rights against individuals and corporations (though the U.S. 1978 Bankruptcy Act damagingly weakened those rights) enforcement in bankruptcy against sovereign states has always been more problematical, because of the military power those states possess. Mediaeval monarchs in both Britain and France took aggressive action against creditors who pressed their claims too vigorously. In the seventeenth century, Charles II’s 1672 Great Stop of the Exchequer bankrupted several leading London goldsmiths, although notably on that occasion the state paid much of the claims in full, albeit with lengthy delays.

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries however, with Britain both a leading naval power and the center of the world’s money market, creditor attitudes were admirably robust. When Venezuela defaulted in 1902, it believed that the Monroe Doctrine would bring U.S. protection to bear against any aggressive action by its creditors, primarily British and German banks. However President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed “if any South American country misbehaves toward any European country, let the European country spank it.” After Kaiser Wilhelm II visited Sandringham, Anglo-German agreement was reached and a naval flotilla from both nations sailed for the Venezuelan coast, blockading the country for four months and bombarding coastal forts adjacent to Caracas and Maracaibo.

The postwar Keynes-White architecture of international finance, with the IMF and World Bank involved in most defaults, sapped the robustness of creditor attitudes. By the 1970s, creditors were in denial with Citibank chairman Walter Wriston notoriously proclaiming that “countries don’t go bust.” Needless to say this was nonsense, and the 1980s Latin American defaults came close to sinking Citibank itself, even though the lending banks under Citi’s Bill Rhodes were able to retain overall control of the debt restructuring. More recently, as IMF participation in defaulting countries has become larger and the IMF’s own attitudes less reliable, creditors have found themselves pushed way down the totem pole by massive loans from the IMF and other agencies, all of which are deemed to take precedence in bankruptcy.

The IMF’s $40 billion loan facility to Greece is an extreme example of this tendency; by it the position of European banks who lent to Greece has been irrevocably weakened. In today’s world, defaults are negotiated by the international agencies, and private commercial banks’ positions are far worse than in even a U.S. private bankruptcy. Only the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies, where the newly inaugurated Obama administration fiddled the legalities to favor the automobile unions over private lenders, were equivalent to state defaults and restructurings in their playing field tilt.

You can see the effect of this in the Greek negotiations. The Greek government, admittedly newly elected but with a strong connection (the prime minister being his son) to the most dishonest and spendthrift of all Greece’s postwar prime ministers, was allowed to promise modest reforms in return for huge dollops of money, and was then permitted to water down these reforms still further in the face of violent protests by the bloated beneficiaries of the country’s public sector excess. Consequently a year later Greece’s finances remain unreformed, and “austerity fatigue” has set in, with the country making only minimal gestures towards further reform.

The real problem is that massive EU subsidies allowed Greece’s living standards to soar far beyond the productivity of its ill-educated and idle citizens, so that only by imposing truly draconian cuts of 30-40 percent in living standards, as well as increasing the Greek retirement age close to 70 from what currently appears to be an average of little more than 50, can the books be balanced. Whereas in 1900 creditor action would probably have knocked a few more chips off the Parthenon, today the Greek debtors are allowed to continue their extravagant lifestyle to the detriment of the remaining value of the creditors’ holdings.

The one possibility for repaying some of Greece’s debts is a sale of state assets. In the original bailout deal, Greece had promised to sell $70 billion of these by 2015, but in the intervening year no progress has been made, as sale would upset too many vested interests. The EU proposal would now transfer to a “fund of experts” control of these state assets, which may be (but probably aren’t) worth as much as $300 billion, a substantial fraction of Greece’s debt obligations. By forcing Greece to accept a creditor committee as manager of these assets, the EU could in principle produce a genuine restructuring, selling perhaps $150-200 billion of the assets over the next 3-4 years, thereby eliminating close to half Greece’s debt obligations.

In reality of course, any committee appointed by the EU would be likely to contain the same kind of socialist bureaucrats as got Greece into trouble in the first place, and so its control would provide very little additional security for creditors. However in principle, if the international bureaucracies would back genuine creditor control of Greek state assets, the country’s debt problems could be resolved and the legal position of creditor interests strengthened to a level at which rational lenders would provide funding.

The other obvious candidate for creditor intervention if current conditions continue is the United States. There are two possible scenarios for this. One is a political scenario in which the current Congressional impasse continues through the date in August when the debt ceiling is reached, causing a technical default on U.S. debt and (more dangerously) a massive loss of confidence in the Treasury bond markets. The other is an economic scenario in which the deficit remains unaddressed, real interest rates start to rise and the bond markets eventually panic, preventing the Treasury from funding the ongoing deficit.

The conventional approach following such an occurrence would be a massive roundup of international banks and aid institutions to provide the U.S. with bailout funds. However the amount of funds required would be very large and the major creditor nations, China and Japan, may be unwilling to fund the profligacies of the U.S. political system any further. Presumably in the second scenario if they had been willing to provide further funding, they would have already done so through the ordinary Treasury bond market. In the first scenario their refusal to provide funding might be caused simply by cool Asian exasperation with U.S. woolly-mindedness and ineptitude.

In either scenario, the only approach would then be a sale of U.S. assets. Unlike in Greece there are few U.S. nationalized industries, although there are certain assets such as the air traffic control system that might be valuable. Other public assets, such as airports and subway systems, are generally owned by states and municipalities rather than by the national government directly, so would not readily be available for sale. Still others, like Amtrak and the Post Office, would fetch very little money because of their chronic loss-making status – Britain managed to sell its nationalized industry “dogs” in the 1980s, but they had first been given a period of firm management to bring them back to profitability. This has not been done, or even seriously attempted, in the United States so a sale in the short-term would be impossible. Naturally, if creditor management were imposed for a period of several years, even the Post Office (which should be managed by Chinese cost-cutters) and Amtrak (maybe run by German management, ruthlessly upgrading the efficiency of the system while closing unprofitable lines in key Congressional districts) could be forced into profitability.

However the greatest “quick hit” realization from creditor management would come in financial assets. According to their latest financial statements, there are $3.1 trillion in mortgage assets on Fannie Mae’s balance sheet and $2.1 trillion on Freddie Mac’s (these totals are sharply up over the past year, as both institutions have been buying mortgage debt to support the market.) Of course, the government guarantee on this $5.2 trillion of long-term paper would be worth very little. However, each asset represents a housing loan, and even today the great majority of these housing loans are perfectly solid credits. With firm management from retired senior executives of British building societies, the good quality paper could readily be sold back into the private market at only a modest discount, since “prime” mortgages are as they always have been an attractive banking asset. By realizing say $4 trillion from these sales (while retaining outstanding the long-term Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debt, which would remain backed by the government guarantee) the liquidity position of the U.S. government would be revolutionized.

Provided appropriate budget cuts were then made under the watchful eye of Singaporean fiscal managers, the United States would emerge from the process humbled but solvent. Even more important, it would have learned the advantages of a private un-securitized housing market from the British building society managers, how to run a railroad from the Germans, the uses of cheap sweated labor from the Chinese and sound fiscal management from the Singaporeans.



Get Ready for more money printing

Failed ideas are all that the American Left has got

The New York Times has launched its trial balloon for the Federal Reserve to begin yet another round of so-called “quantitative easing” to, it thinks, help the economy. In its May 30 editorial, “The Numbers Are Grim,” the Times calls for the Fed to, among other things, “be prepared to continue measures to bolster the economy as needed, even if that means looser policy for longer than it originally planned.”

It may not be long before the wonks over at the Fed come to the same conclusion, under pressure from the Obama Administration and its allies at the Times. So far, the central bank has said it is not considering such a move, but that could change if the bad economic data continues to come in, with growth at a dismal 1.8 percent in the first quarter.

The Times also calls for unemployment welfare to be extended yet again, for an easing of rules for refinancing, “bolstered foreclosure relief and more fiscal aid to states,” job “retraining,” and even tax increases to, it says, “help cover needed spending.” You know, all of the stuff government has already been doing without any success to facilitate this so-called “recovery”.

Times columnist Paul Krugman too jumps into the fray for his part. He wants “W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads… a serious program of mortgage modification, reducing the debts of troubled homeowners… [and] [w]e could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate”.

Basically, the Left wants more of the same — more “stimulus”—which has already failed. We know that because of the 4.2 percent decline in home values in the first quarter as measured by the S&P/Case Shiller home price index.

We are now officially in a double dip downturn in housing. Home values are now at their lowest point in the current recession — lower than even April 2009. The Obama Administration promised that if trillions of dollars in fiscal and monetary “stimulus” were injected into the economy, that it would turn the housing market around.

Specifically, when Barack Obama signed the $826 billion “stimulus” into law he promised to “stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans”. So much for that.

Zillow reported last month that 28.4 percent of homeowners are underwater, a number that is likely to keep rising the more overall home values continue to plunge. The problem of negative equity has likely been compounded, ironically, by the $22 billion homebuyers tax incentive program.

3.3 million people utilized the program, which temporarily juiced the market, and have now seen prices depreciate again just as the government was saying the recovery was at hand. Whoops.

Coupled with rising foreclosures and persistently high unemployment at 9 percent, including a youth unemployment rate (i.e. those under 25) over 17.2 percent, Keynesians like Krugman, the Times editorial board and those at the Obama Administration can only come to one conclusion: Not enough money was spent, borrowed, and printed by the government. They can’t believe their lying eyes.

That is because their ideology does not allow for another possibility: That the financial crisis caused by government “stimulus,” too low interest rates by the Fed, and loose underwriting policies by Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Housing Administration, not to mention the Community Reinvestment Act regulations that weakened lending policies, lowered down payments, and otherwise pushed risky loans on individuals who could not afford them.

Government created the bubble. And when it popped, the resultant correction was unavoidable.

Obama has simply prolonged the recession he swore to pull us out of, as shown by Case-Shiller’s data. After the “stimulus” programs ended, the temporary spike in home values did too. Under the theory, the “recovery” should have been self-sustaining. Instead, values went down anyway.

We should have just let prices hit the bottom in the first place. Instead of bailing out banks, it would have been better to let investors that bet poorly on housing to fail. If government had just gotten out of the way, we would already be in recovery. That is the path Iceland has followed, and compared to Ireland, which did bail out its banks, is speeding more rapidly into recovery, and without the burdensome, excessive public debt accrued.

The American people have wasted over $2 trillion on a lie. Obama has been given everything he wanted — everything he said would turn the economy around. The “stimulus”’ has failed. He has failed.

Now is the time for a new direction for America, and that will only come with new leadership on the economy, before we go bankrupt trying to “stimulate” it. It is also time for Fed head Ben Bernanke not to heed the calls to throw another trillion dollars from a helicopter. But based upon the past three years of experience, there is little reason to doubt that under pressure he won’t cave.




TSA pays out token sum to Texas woman whose breasts were exposed during patdown: "An airline passenger who sued the TSA after her breasts were exposed during a patdown has received a settlement of just $2,350. Lynsie Murley, 24, sued the TSA for negligence and intentional infliction of emotional distress after she was humiliated at Texas's Corpus Christi airport in May of 2008. Miss Murley, of Amarillo in Texas, claimed an agent pulled her blouse completely down, exposing her breasts to everyone in the area, after she was 'singled out for extended search procedures'. The agents 'joked and laughed' for an 'extended period of time', she said."

FL: Scott signs “drug tests for welfare” bill: "Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed into law Tuesday a bill that requires Floridians to be tested for drugs if they want cash benefits from the state. People must pay for drug testing of samples of their urine, blood or hair before they receive state benefits. If people pass the drug test, taxpayers will reimburse them for $10 to $25 that such tests usually cost. They are not reimbursed if they fail the test and they are banned for six months from receiving benefits from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. A second failed test results in a three-year ban."

Commerce Nominee is a crony capitalist: "John Bryson, President Obama's nominee to head the Commerce Department, is well-qualified, knowledgeable and practiced in the ways of business. If anything, he might be too practiced. The Senate's confirmation scrutiny of Bryson sometime this summer could be lively, judging from his CV and the California policies and politics that gave him his start. To some Republicans, Bryson's outspoken pronouncements about curbing climate change, his enthusiasm for tough California regulations that actually gave his company competitive advantages, and his support for left-leaning nonprofit organizations -- plus his generous contributions to Democratic candidates -- are all unsettling."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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 June, 2011

Obama's dictatorship via regulation

The fact that Barack Obama is working “under the radar” to strip Americans of their Second Amendment rights is truly disconcerting. But is it really all that surprising?

Obama – who successfully rammed socialized medicine, bureaucratic bailouts and a Wall Street takeover through Congress during his first two years in the White House – is employing a new strategy now that America’s elected leaders have cooled to his radical agenda.

It works like this: When Congress doesn’t bend to his will – Obama simply appropriates its power unto himself. That’s why as anti-American as it is – it should come as no surprise that Obama’s Justice Department is currently looking at ways to bypass Congress and restrict gun ownership through executive orders.

Like a spoiled monarch, totalitarian fascist or petty third world dictator, Obama has reacted to the public’s rebuke of his socialist overreaching by actively seeking to subvert their will. This trend was evident even before last fall’s decisive Democratic defeat – which was fueled by freedom-loving Tea Party members and fiscal independents frustrated by Washington’s non-stop avalanche of deficit spending.

When Congress refused to pass the president’s energy tax hike (disguised as a “cap and trade” marketplace on carbon emissions), Obama simply ordered his Environmental Protection Agency to start regulating carbon under the Clean Air Act. As a result, American power plants and refineries are now being hit with new environmental mandates that Congress has explicitly rejected.

When the state of Texas objected to this unauthorized regulatory putsch, the EPA responded by stripping the state of its authority to issue required air permits for new power plants. Apparently these strong-arm tactics are part of the “unfinished business” that Obama’s EPA administrator Lisa Jackson believes is necessary to promote “environmental justice” not only in America, but around the world.

Meanwhile, Obama’s organized labor appointees on the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) are making an unprecedented assault on the free market by telling Boeing where it can build its new 787 Dreamliner aircraft. In true gangster style, the NLRB has told Boeing that it will permit the new planes to be built at a facility in South Carolina – a right-to-work state – as long as Boeing first agrees to expand its union work force in Everett, Washington.

It’s not exactly the Plata O Plomo (“silver or lead”) technique employed by the late Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, but it’s close. In fact, Obama’s war on Boeing has been described by one South Carolina lawmaker, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, as “government by mafia.”

On health care, the environment, gun control, energy policy and a host of other issues, Obama is seeking to use the regulatory process to impose a radical agenda that he could have never gotten through Congress – even if it were still controlled by Democrats.

Not only that, Obama is seeking to insulate his radical policies from judicial review – appointing a Supreme Court nominee who previously helped his administration craft the legal defense of “Obamacare.”

This dangerous assault on the constitutional separation of powers clearly puts the onus on Congressional leaders. Their choice? Move aggressively to block Obama’s usurpation of their authority – or watch as our nation falls further under the thumb of this “thugocracy.”

How can legislative leaders block Obama? One way is to leverage the power of the purse strings. In other words, if Obama’s EPA is going to defy Congress, then its funding should be zeroed out. In fact, if lawmakers are serious about eliminating unnecessary government and cutting deficit spending – Obama is giving them a perfect excuse to do just that with respect to multiple agencies.

One thing is clear, though: Lawmakers are going to have to target much more than the paltry cuts they sought in the run-up to the government shutdown debate last month. More importantly, they are also going to have to learn how not to fear the threat of a government shutdown.

Each day, Obama is advancing his socialist agenda – whether Congress or the American people like it or not. The only question is when our elected leaders are going to stand up and say “enough is enough” by cutting off the spigot?



Chasing Sarah: The Boys Behind the Bus

In the 1970s, "The Boys on the Bus" exposed how a clubby pack of male political reporters ruled the road to the White House and shaped the news. Four decades later, an outsider gal from Alaska has commandeered the 2012 media bus -- and left Beltway journalism insiders eating her dust. We've come a long way, baby.
Amid frenzied speculation over her potential presidential campaign plans, former GOP Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin launched an all-American road trip with her family this Memorial Day weekend. Establishment media types didn't get reserved seats or advance notice of her itinerary. Palin rubbed the Washington media mob's institutional sense of entitlement right back in its face. "I don't think I owe anything to the mainstream media. I want them to have to do a little bit of work on a tour like this," she jabbed.

Robbed of the reflexive genuflection customarily paid by publicity-seeking candidates to the political press, scribes, cameramen and producers on the campaign trail began howling louder than the Rolling Thunder Harleys that Palin rode along with on Sunday in Washington, D.C. One miffed CBS News producer, Ryan Corsaro, pouted that the O.J. Simpson-style media caravan giving chase to Palin had created hazardous working conditions for all the intrepid news correspondents.

"I just hope to God that one of these young producers with a camera whose bosses are making them follow Sarah Palin as a potential Republican candidate don't get in a car crash, because this is dangerous," Corsaro said. Puh-lease. As if traveling America's highways to historic tourist spots were akin to driving in an armored tank on Baghdad's road of death.

In Philadelphia, a pair of news helicopters braved treacherous conditions to monitor the enemy on the ground. Soon, editors tracking the story from their cubbies will be filing workers' comp claims asserting exposure to secondhand exhaust fumes from Palin's bus. And I'm counting the minutes until some cub reporter double-parks somewhere in hot pursuit of Team Sarah and demands that she pay his ticket. I mean, how dare Palin "make them follow" her!

As my friend and blogging colleague Doug Powers put it: "Reporters whining about Palin are like kids who can't reach the cookie jar because she keeps moving it."

For more than two years, Palin-bashing journalists (on the establishment left and the right) have mocked the conservative supernova while milking her for headlines, circulation, viewership and Web traffic.

They lambaste her as trivial, while obsessing over her shoes, glasses and hair -- and turning one of her misspelled words on Twitter into Watergate.

They label her a grievance-monger for calling out media double standards and then kvetch, moan and wallow in a pool of self-pity when she doesn't spoon-feed them coveted political scoops.

They call her dumb and then run around in circles trying to figure out her "mystery" tour and blame her for "faking them out."

They blast her for incompetence, but grudgingly acknowledge that she is a master of social media who has changed the rules of the presidential campaign game.

The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta griped that "reality TV star Palin" was "treating pol reporters like paparazzi -- needing and hating, inviting and making chase." Perhaps Franke-Ruta needs a reminder of what a truly parasitic press-pol relationship looks like. I have stacks of Obama 2008 profiles exulting over his glistening pecs and soaring oratorical skills, followed by countless spurned-lover laments from reporters disappointed about the control freaks who stage-manage his every press appearance.

What makes Sarah stand out in the national GOP field is that she is beholden to no one and controls her own destiny. She doesn't need media kingmakers to make her. They need her. She doesn't need newspaper or TV producers to drive her story. She drives them. Crazy.

The unhinged reaction of the Palin-hating convoy reveals what its attendants fear most: a politician who doesn't fear them.



Hollywood Hates Conservatives

Ben Shapiro

Discrimination is not a pleasant accusation to level at anyone. In particular, conservatives have a tough time stomaching such allegations -- we tend to think that for the most part, people treat each other rationally. After all, that assumption is the foundation of laissez-faire economics, which states that the market will ruthlessly weed out all those who practice non-rationality-based decision-making.
Sometimes, however, discrimination is very real. And in today's America, Hollywood is its epicenter.

There's a reason the product produced by the television industry is overwhelmingly biased to the left: Hollywood generally won't let anybody to the right get a job. As I show in my new book, "Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV," Tinseltown is populated almost entirely by liberals who are motivated to use your television to propagandize on behalf of their favorite political causes. No matter what you watch -- "Sesame Street" or "Glee," "Sex and the City" or "Friends" -- television's creators are using your entertainment choices to proselytize you.

If conservatives get in the way -- and they always do -- the left simply cuts them out of the loop.

Just last week, Patricia Heaton, star of "The Middle" and "Everybody Loves Raymond," announced that she knows "for a fact there are some people who have said they wouldn't want to work with [me] because of [my] politics." Heaton told me the same thing a few months back when I interviewed her for "Primetime Propaganda" -- only at the time, she asked me to remove her from the book because she was afraid of losing work. Kelsey Grammer of "Cheers" and "Frasier" agrees that discrimination is a habit in liberal Hollywood. So do Dwight Schultz ("The A-Team"), Gary Graham ("Star Trek: Enterprise"), Evan Sayet (formerly a writer for Bill Maher), Andrew Klavan (author of "True Crime"), Lionel Chetwynd ("The Hanoi Hilton"), Michael Moriarty ("Law & Order"), and dozens of others with whom I spoke.

What's more, Hollywood's top non-conservative names admitted to me that such discrimination takes place on a regular basis. The producer of "Chicago Hope" and "Picket Fences," Michael Nankin, justified discrimination by stating that "scripted television is very liberal ... that's the personality that you need to succeed in that business." Allan Burns, co-creator of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," talked down to conservatives, explaining that artists are "the intellectual community, that's why [they're liberal]." David Shore, creator of "House," admitted that Hollywood was overwhelmingly leftist, and that discrimination happened on a regular basis: "I think people look at [conservatives] somewhat aghast, and I'm sure it doesn't help them," he said. Top executives admitted it. Top producers admitted it. Top writers admitted it.

Some even celebrated it.

Vin Di Bona, producer of "MacGyver" and "America's Funniest Home Videos," told me that the widespread perception of anti-conservative bias in Hollywood was "probably accurate and I'm happy about it, actually. ... If the accusation is there, I'm OK with it." Nicholas Meyer, director of "The Day After," as well as "Star Trek II" and "Star Trek VI," said he hoped conservatives were discriminated against.

The impact in the industry is breathtaking. Conservatives in Hollywood meet in the shadows, afraid to step into the sunlight for fear of being recognized and blacklisted. Liberals feel free to force their politics down the throats of moderate and conservative Americans. Discrimination against some has consequences for all, and discrimination against conservatives in Hollywood is no exception.

Over the coming days and weeks, we're going to be releasing audio of top Hollywood figures admitting to their industry's discriminatory practices. We're going to be releasing tape of them owning up to using their entertainment for propaganda. We are going to force them to recognize that their willingness to discriminate is a symptom of a deeper ill: Their willingness to fight a culture war against non-liberal Americans on a daily basis and to turn our favorite evening activity into "Primetime Propaganda."




SCOTUS rejects witchhunt against Bush officials: "The Supreme Court, unanimously throwing out a suit against former Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft from someone arrested but never used as a material witness in a terrorism case, has now erected a broad shield protecting the government and Bush administration officials for their conduct in the war on terrorism. ... Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, in a key concurring opinion joined by three liberal justices, said judges should be wary of allowing suits targeting 'national officeholders' working 'in the area of national security.' ... Justice Antonin Scalia, writing the lead opinion, said it did not matter whether Ashcroft was falsely claiming that Kidd and others like him were valuable witnesses."

AZ: Group protests SWAT murder of Tucson Marine: "The death of a former Marine near Tucson continues to stir controversy. A group spent this Memorial Day protesting the SWAT raid which led to his death. Investigation documents reveal officers seized guns, banking documents and other items from the home but did not find drugs or cash. The original search warrants, along with other documents relating to the investigation, remain sealed. ... When they arrived to serve the search warrant, Guerena reportedly grabbed a gun. He didn't aim it at officers but they opened fire, shooting him 60 times. The Pima County Sheriff's Office maintains the officers followed protocol during the raid."

US home prices in double dip: "US house prices are in a double dip that has erased all of their bounce since the recession and threatens to derail a stuttering economic recovery. The S&P/Case-Shiller house price index fell by 4.2 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, breaking through a 2009 low to hit its weakest level since 2002. Declining house prices may cause households to rein in both consumption and home buying plans, leading to further falls in house prices and overall weakness in the economy. House prices are now 33 per cent below their peak in 2006 – a sharper fall than the 31 per cent drop recorded during the Great Depression, according to analysts at Capital Economics."

Political hacks: "Suppose you’re the owner of a taxicab company in a largish metropolitan area. One day you notice some taxis tooling around town — and they’re not yours. They belong to an upstart competitor. His cars are newer, his drivers are nicer, and his fares are lower. Pretty soon your profits start shrinking. What are you going to do about it? You have a couple of choices. Option A: Invest a lot of money in new vehicles, customer-service training for your drivers, GPS systems to map faster routes and so on. A lot of expense. A lot of effort. So you go for Option B: Invest a little money in a few politicians, who adopt a medallion law: Only licensed operators with city-issued taxi medallions may operate cabs."

My Twitter.com identity: jonjayray. My Facebook page is also accessible as jonjayray (In full: http://www.facebook.com/jonjayray). 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.

"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)

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

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 people who should know better, 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.

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

"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.

Conservatives, on the other hand could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the 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.

"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

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.

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.

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

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"