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

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

The original of this mirror site is HERE. My Blogroll; Archives here or here; My Home Page. Email me (John Ray) here. NOTE: The short comments that I have in the side column of the primary site for this blog are now given at the foot of this site.
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22 April, 2015

How the FDA Could Save Thousands of Lives

About 30,000 Americans suffer from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease—a horrible ailment that causes patients to gradually lose control of their muscles. Currently, there is no known cure for ALS, and the only drug approved for helping the afflicted adds at most just a few months to their lives. That’s why it’s vital that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accelerate the approval of a new drug that offers hope for ALS patients—GM6, developed by Pasadena-based Genervon Biopharmaceuticals.

More than 500,000 people have signed an online petition urging the FDA to approve the drug—thanks in part to the Ice Bucket Challenge, the campaign that went viral on YouTube last summer—so it’s conceivable that agency officials will soon override their overly cautious tendencies and issue an approval. But life and health shouldn’t have to come down to a publicity campaign. “In a free society, of course, dying patients shouldn’t have to petition bureaucrats for permission to take promising new drugs, so long as they understand there are risks involved,” Independent Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin W. Powell writes in National Review.

Under the current FDA approval process, too many regulations stand between life-enhancing pharmaceuticals and the patients who need them. Although these regulations, which include clinical trials that can take 12 years and cost $1 billion to complete, sometimes keep unsafe drugs off the market, they also prevent the terminally ill from getting drugs they need to extend their lives. Most of all, they usurp the ability of patients to decide, in consultation with their doctors, how much risk-taking is acceptable to them. “In the long term,” Powell writes, “the FDA should get out of the approval process, for the benefit of the rest of us.”

SOURCE

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There Is No Real Increase in Insured under Obamacare

Gallup has released the full results of its first-quarter survey of health insurance. It concludes that the proportion of uninsured Americans has collapsed to the lowest level ever: 11.9 percent.

Only the people who have employer-based benefits can be said to be paying for their own health insurance. They decreased 0.9 percentage points in the quarter.

People on Medicaid (which went up 2.1 percentage points) are simply on welfare. Lumping them in with people who have employer-based benefits is like lumping people getting welfare checks and people getting paychecks into the same group of “income recipients.” The respondents whom Gallup classifies as having “a plan paid for by self or family member” (which went up by 3.5 percentage points) are in Obamacare exchanges. Most of their premiums are paid by taxpayers, so they are mostly dependent, not independent with respect to having health insurance.

If we go back and compare the types of coverage in Q3 2013 to Q1 2015, we see that the proportion of those with employer-based benefits dropped from 44.4 percent to 43.3 percent; those on Medicaid jumped from 6.8 percent to 9.0 percent; and those with “self-paid” (actually, heavily subsidized Obamacare) plans spiked from 16.7 percent to 21.1 percent.

Here’s what I do not understand: The proportion of people aged 18 through 64 on Medicare increased from 6.4 percent to 7.3 percent. There are three ways to get Medicare if you are under 65: Receive Social Security Disability Benefits, suffer from End-Stage Renal Disease, or suffer from Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS). I cannot see how Obamacare increased any of these three situations.

SOURCE

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Israel deserves our support for its morality alone

"Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." --  Benjamin Franklin

The left with few exceptions typically supports Palestinians, and usually at the expense of Jews. The right, with few exceptions, remains a staunch supporter of Israel; especially conservative Christians and the GOP.

But it is the middle, the independent voice that remains to be engaged, and to them I ask for their consideration as the world gets more dangerous, politics more divided, and the fate of the West increasingly hangs in the balance, when deciding if a choice must be made - whether to align with Israel or her adversaries - that they consider Israel as the righteous cause.

Let me engage the help of my fellow Philadelphian, Dr. Franklin, who once again demonstrates his prescience and ageless wisdom in that simple phrase. Any question about the veracity of his thoughts simply requires looking at neighboring enterprises - Palestinians and Israelis. Any objective observer would come to the same conclusion Dr. Franklin would if assessing the two peoples. Corruption, viciousness, violence and hatred rule the hearts and minds, policies and passions of many Palestinians. Were it not so, their masters, in the form of Hamas, PIJ, or similar, would not exist and prevail.

Compare this with people across the fence - Jews - most of whom are dedicated to education, farming, art, literature, inventing medical interventions, developing water treatment and technology advances that can benefit all mankind, and in so doing, enjoy democratic freedoms, a significantly higher standard of living, and, except when their aggressor neighbors are lobbing rockets into Jewish neighborhoods, or are bombing, knifing, running over or randomly beating to death people in Jewish cities, Israelis enjoy a significantly higher standard of living than their neighbors....  "a virtuous people capable of freedom!"

As readers of FSM have noted, over the years I've denounced the moral equivalence that the left, secular progressives, and the media are all too willing to extend to Palestinians in the media, the White House, and on college campuses, almost always at the expense of Israel.

For reasons that continue to escape rationale thought, Palestinians remain the cause célèbre among the salon set, the pseudo-intelligentsia, many democrats, including former President Jimmy Carter and academia.  Perhaps as Annette Benning's character in the film The Siege opines "they (Palestinians) seduce you with their suffering." Or perhaps it is the natural antipathy of the unsuccessful who are all too willing to become class warriors rebelling against successful enterprises like Israel, even if Jews' very success was obtained while defending against attacks by the so called underdogs, who behave more like wild, rabid dogs.  Perhaps it is part of the liberal mindset that wishful thinking makes all matters thus; the left are the peace makers, and any oppressed people must deserved to be rescued, regardless of the facts.

Well the facts in the Palestinian saga are pretty clear. Much of the suffering Palestinians face is mostly of their own doing, and at the hands of their own leaders, fueled by the politics of jealousy, defined by narrative that the plight of the average person in Gaza or the West Bank is because of Jews, allowing their leaders to exploit a mass of people easily manipulated through one unifying mindset - a hatred for one entity - Israel.  And in order to remain in power - Saul Alinsky style - you have to create an enemy class to engage, enrage, distract and mobilize the masses. Obama, the Alinsky-crats who now run the DNC, and folks like ISIS, Al Qaeda, Fatah, Hezbollah, Hamas, Moslem Brotherhood (starting to catch a theme here?) all exploit this strategy to most effective ends.

But do we stop and ask, especially as pertains to a failed social enterprise, such as perennially impoverished collections of people who have the resources to live better lives, how can a group of people emerge into a thriving society? There are lots of moving parts to a successful community - a democracy or any national enterprise. But paramount is the notion we all row the boat together, for a common purpose, a higher purpose. We need skilled people. We need to build things, not destroy them. We need to educate our people.  We need to have infrastructure and we need to be self sustaining - which means having things to sell in order to pay for things you need.

Well that pretty much defines how Israel grew up from a post WWII territory to a nation. Blood, sweat and tears were shared, but it happened. And while it is true Israel obtains military funding for her defense, she also is a pretty self sufficient nation with prodigious intellectual property being developed and commercialized, technology well sought after from China to Russia as well as the West.  She is the only nation in the region with perennial next century industries and companies.

Once when flying over the North-East part of Israel - a colleague looking out the window looking down at the ground which represented Israel and her ‘neighbors,' recognizing I had been here before, asked me how could I tell what was Israel compared to what wasn't. "That's simple" I replied...."if it is green and looks alive like something is growing, it's Israel, if it is lifeless, dark and barren, it isn't Israel!"

Hanging out at a café perched between Palestinian and Jewish neighborhoods the difference in appearance between school children was stunning. The Jewish kids were well kempt, in uniforms, carrying school books, or sitting down together reading from them on their front steps. The Palestinian kids of similar age looked unkempt, were not sporting books, instead sitting next to older men who were drinking, playing card or tile games, and languishing unproductive.

The difference in educational materials is breathtaking. Many of the teaching materials supplied by Hamas to Palestinian kids include such useful math problems like this example -"if you kill two Jews today and two tomorrow, how many have you killed in all?" The books are often laced with imagery that foster vilification of Jews from an early age. It is often more subtle than the math problem, but no less pervasive or destructive. Jewish kids on the other hand learn languages, science, literature, math, computers, and, well you get the idea.

It is painful to watch a generation of Palestinian kids where their God given talents and future are curtailed, and that these children will never reach their potential, instead being prostituted towards dark purposes. They will never enjoy the satisfaction of knowing what it is like to become a teacher, a physician, a lawyer, an inventor.  Suicide bombing is by definition a temp job, not a career.

And yet it doesn't have to be this way. Many years ago my colleagues and I flew to Israel from all over the world to support our Israeli friends who put together an amazing adolescent medicine conference. As part of the congress, young people from both sides of the divide revealed shared projects, and enjoyed early successes. Palestinian and Jordanian and Israeli teens working together; though nascent, their programs were making a difference. A short time later the 2nd intifada started. One has to wonder what might have evolved had the Palestinian leaders' hatred of Jews, fears of democracy and desire to keep power overruled their desire to create a nation for their people. But such is the hallmark of dictators, and tyrants.

In spite of the barrage of rockets sent from Gaza into civilian regions such as Sderot, Israel continues to supply much of the basic needs of that deadly region, even after abandoning it to the Palestinians in the hope self rule might foster pride in the region, pride in self, and evolution into a functional society. Hope clearly isn't a strategy, and Gaza has devolved into a region of despair, largely due to bad leadership,  citizens unwilling or lacking the courage to demand change from within, and decaying infrastructure.  The sickest of Gazans who cannot get adequate care in their region, are allowed to come to Israel for medicine and advanced intervention. Water, electricity are also supplied in part by Israel.

And yet the Jews continue to be denounced as occupiers, captors, tormentors. One must ask the Leftist apologists for Gaza - when is it the Palestinians' responsibility to grow up, stop expecting  handouts from the world, stand on their own two feet, stop blaming the Jews when they sit on a piece of Mediterranean front real estate that could become a resort? One has to ask would Gaza treat Jews as compassionately as Israel treats sick Palestinians.  We can't even get the fine friendly folks from Gaza to stop rocket attacks on Israeli citizens - unprovoked and unnecessary.

Israel would be the first to volunteer and help Gaze grow up, if Palestinians would only agree to live and let live. Israel and the US are almost always the first to show up in a global crisis - from Haiti to Japan to Turkey to, well you get the idea.

Does anyone worry about a generation of PTSD afflicted Jewish kids who, in addition to learning reading, writing, math and languages, learn such other useful skills - if a rocket alarm goes off, where are the closest hardened shelters you can reach in fifteen seconds? And yet in spite of decades of attacks, most Jews I talk with do not hate Palestinians, they pity them with compassion. They recognize a generation of Palestinian kids have had their youth stolen in an atmosphere of hatred.

The Israeli kids have had part of their youth stolen, too, under assault, and yet their lives are remarkably normalized because of the wisdom of a compassionate "virtuous" society folks from the North ‘adopt' i.e. bringing kids up from the South, out of harms way in the summer and other times where fun time is an essential component of youth.

And, every young person, except the Orthodox, joins the military. But no rational person could ever equate the army of Allah (Hamas) with the Israeli Defense Force. There are simple, noble truths why.  First and foremost the IDF is not charged with attacking or eliminating neighbor nations. If that were the case, Israel might have more territory! Hamas is chartered to eliminate Jews.

But there is one reason above all others that is the most telling argument going back to Ben Franklin why Israel ought to be supported by the democracies of the world, that the Left ought to shut up, get with the program, abandon supporting blood thirsty enterprises like Iran, Hamas, or Palestine until they learn to act like civilized people; the left ought to join with the grownups and support one of the most hunted and persecuted people on the planet - Jews.   Jews believe in the concept of righteousness - the notion of the moral being.  That could NEVER be ascribed to Hamas!

Imperfect as any other ethnicity, Jews none the less seem to have adopted their own mission statement - upholding the dignity of humanity.  This is why Jewish physicians offer the same medical care to a suicide bomber who was clinging to life, as the victims of that Palestinian bomber.

Several years ago I was at a small Israeli military base near ‘the front' - and had the opportunity to speak with the commanding officer who was in his early twenties.  Consider the responsibilities of this young adult. A man (adolescent) who was the same age as any recent college graduate in the US, this young Israeli officer was in charge of 100 troops. A colleague and I spoke with him about spending part of his adolescence in the IDF, and asked how it felt to be responsible for the lives of 100 people. The young man replied "I'm responsible for more than the lives of 100 soldiers. I'm responsible for the lives of my adversaries, too. They have mothers that love them like my troops do. I'm responsible to their parents as well as Israeli parents. That's why we must be moral and careful how we fight. I have to care about my troops and theirs."

"I have to care about my troops and theirs." Wow that is powerful stuff! And to me, this makes the IDF more formidable. Let's not lose sight of his resolve to defend the State of Israel; but within his marching orders is a moral imperative.

That sentence alone commends Israel to most favored nation status. It is an insight that captures a morality in a ‘virtuous people' as Franklin would likely describe were he joining me during my visits to Israel.

SOURCE



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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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21 April, 2015

The Death of the Left

The thought below is not cheering.  The Left hurt a lot of people as their systems implode

The left is winning, but for the left winning is indistinguishable from dying. The West didn’t defeat Communism; it held it at bay long enough for it to defeat itself. The Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China crushed Communism more decisively than Goldwater could have ever dreamed of.

The embargo didn’t turn Cuba into a hellhole whose main tourism industry is inviting progressive Canadian pedophiles to rape its children. Castro did that with help from the dead guy on the red t-shirts.

“One of the greatest benefits of the revolution is that even our prostitutes are college graduates,” Castro told Oliver Stone. In real life, his prostitutes are lucky if they graduated from elementary school.

American admirers eager to get to Havana claim to be worried that Starbucks will ruin their Socialist paradise. What really worries them is that American businesses might give Cuban teens an economic alternative to sexually servicing decrepit leftists from Berkeley for $10 a night in the revolutionary version of Thailand where everyone is free, especially the political prisoners and raped children.

There’s no embargo to blame in Venezuela. Hugo Chavez destroyed his own Bolivarian revolution by implementing it. The Venezuelan economic collapse really took off while Obama was in the White House leafing through the tract Chavez had gifted him blaming America for all of Latin America’s troubles.

Now Chavez, the tract’s author and the Venezuelan economy are all dead.

Chavez’s successor has desperately tried to blame America for his crisis, but Uncle Sam had nothing to do with the lack of toilet paper in the stores, the milk rationing and the soldiers stationed outside electronics retailers. It’s just what happens when the left wins.

When the man in the White House wanted a Latin American revolution to succeed, it still failed.

The left is at its best when it’s trying to take power. It unleashes its egocentric creative impulses, it writes poems, plays and songs as its heroes die in doomed battles or pump their fists at protests. And then they win, get rich and fat, the people grow poor and the country becomes a miserable dictatorship. Try putting a 300 pound Che on a t-shirt. Or get inspired by Obama lazily playing golf.

A successful leftist revolution quickly becomes indistinguishable from an ordinary oligarchy. Millions may die, but decades later all that’s left is a vast pointless bureaucracy that runs on family connections, an ideology no one understands anymore and an impoverished population ripe for outside exploitation.

And then before you know it, Moscow is full of fast food joints, China uses slave labor to make iPhones and aging hippies can buy children in Cuba for the price of a Happy Meal.

The left rams through its ideology by force and when the ideology is gone, all that’s left is the force.

Now that the left has gotten its way in America, crushing its enemies, the excitement is gone. Even pro-criminal policies, the straw that once broke the left’s electoral back, have been accepted by Republicans.

What’s left except trying to sell Hillary Clinton as the exciting face of the future, a task that even the left seems to lack the stomach for?

The excitement died once Obama took over. Suddenly those inspiring speeches no longer inspired. The speeches were the same teleprompter pabulum mixing bad poetry with worse diction, but there was no longer anything to push against except a frustrated Republican opposition in Congress.

The left had won and victory was boring. Obama took to golfing. He only seemed to come alive by campaigning so he campaigned all the time in an endless non-stop cultural revolution.

Imagine a future in which the left wins permanently. Just picture Hillary Clinton and then Elizabeth Warren and finally Bernie Sanders kept alive in the Oval Office by electricity and fetal stem cells from babies. Imagine the country run like the DMV. Imagine it divided between the politically connected and the poor. Imagine everyone else giving up and surviving on the black market. Imagine Social Justice becoming a slogan that everyone is forced to repeat, but that no one understands.

And then the Chinese will come along to take advantage of the cheap labor.

The left is like a suicide bomber or a honey bee. It can’t win. It can only kill and die. A successful leftist regime is a contradiction in terms. The hard revolutions blow up fast and then decay into prolonged misery. The soft electoral revolutions skip the explosions and cut right to the prolonged misery.

Europe went Full Socialist and gave up. Carter’s malaise has been a reality in Europe for generations.  What was four years in America was forty years in Europe. The American left’s great ambitions; bureaucratic rule, international impotence, national health care, endless education, environmental correctness and childbirth replaced by immigration were realized in Europe. And they killed Europe.

Now they’re killing America.

What can the left achieve when it no longer has to worry about a conservative opposition, budgets, democracy or any other obstacle to its great dreams? Cities filled with old men and women who never had children. Cities filled with young men and women who will never marry, who are still working on their fourth degree without ever having held a job. Cities filled with multi-generational welfare recipients who are also the only ones having children. Cities owned by foreign nations from their historic buildings to their imported booming populations. That was the great accomplishment of a united Europe.

No children, no jobs and no future. No great works, no civilizational progress and no golden age.

What stakes are to a vampire, victory is to the left. The left gains its creative energies from fighting against authority. Its entire reason for existing is to resist. In triumph, its writers become prostitutes for authority, its heroes become tyrants and its myths die on propaganda posters dissolving in the gutter.

The left gains its ideological legitimacy from reform. But what happens when it becomes the entity in need of reform? Then reform dies and the word comes to be used as a euphemism for oppression. All the ideas die while the slogans march on like zombies. Radicals kill and then are killed. The men and women who used to fill the gulags, die in them instead. Lenin becomes Stalin becomes Khrushchev.

Before you know it, no one remembers why there was a revolution or how to get rid of it.

The American left survived its last round of victories by losing elections. It won while maintaining the appearance of defeat. Now it has both the appearance and the substance of victory. Maddened social justice warriors lynch-tweet their own over trifles as the revolution’s children devour its elders in search of someone to fight.

The left has won and victory is killing it. It’s a slow miserable death for it, and for us. If we win, then a defeated and revitalized left will go back to fulminating and ranting, plotting and scheming its way to a victory that will kill it. If its victory becomes permanent, a generation from now Cuban sex tourists with pesos will be visiting the Socialist enclaves of Berkeley or Boston for their child prostitution needs.

SOURCE

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The Negotiator Strikes Again

Once again, Barack Obama has demonstrated his brand of “diplomacy,” which can only be described as “on my knees” statesmanship. He makes Neville Chamberlain look like Muhammad Ali.

After meeting with Raul Castro and other Latin American leaders over the weekend, our fearless leader announced he would be removing Cuba from the list of states supporting terrorists — his first move toward normalizing relations with Cuba. This comes on the heels of 18 months' worth of secret meetings between Obama’s and Castro’s negotiators. Considering what came of the negotiations, we can’t understand why it took 18 month, or even 18 days.

Obama reassured Congress that Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism” for at least the last six months, and, furthermore, “has provided assurances it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.” And if you believe that we have some beautiful property in the Whitewater development at rock bottom prices.

As Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen observes, “There will be no mention from the White House of terrorists being protected and supported by the Castro regime, such as Joanne Chesimard — who murdered a New Jersey state trooper and was named in 2013 by Obama’s own FBI as one of its Most Wanted Terrorists. There will be no mention of the 70 other U.S. fugitives that Obama’s own State Department reports ‘The Cuban government continued to harbor’ while providing ‘support such as housing, food ration books, and medical care’ — or of the Spanish and Colombian terrorists receiving similar support from the Castro brothers.”

Obama’s move puts him at odds with the previous 10 presidents — both Democrat and Republican — who have all recognized that Cuba’s anti-American, despotic communist government terrorizes its formerly prosperous, hard-working people, keeps them in poverty, and locks up political dissenters who often languish for years in Cuban prison holes.

The ignorance of the American public is Obama’s best hope. Leftmedia newsreaders cheer Obama’s “courageous” move to finally recognize our island neighbor, which they say has suffered under the U.S. embargo and its other unjust policies. At first, a majority of low-information Americans agree that Obama is doing the right thing. But when told that Cuba is harboring Russian ships in its ports, opposition for normalization rises to 58%. And, Thiessen notes, when told that Cuba “attempts to smuggle 240 tons of weaponry to North Korea, opposition jumps to 63 percent and support plummets to 26 percent. When … told that Cuba is harboring a cop-killer and terrorists, opposition jumps to 63 percent and support plummets to 23 percent … and when asked whether Cuba’s designation as a supporter of terrorism should be maintained because it harbors terrorists, respondents agreed 68 percent to 16 percent.”

Americans aren’t quite as dumb as you think, Señior Obama.

Being the consummate negotiator he is, as demonstrated with the Iranians, Obama displays his brilliant “give all, take nothing” diplomacy as he moves toward the goal of normalization. Castro refuses to complete the deal until the U.S. pulls out of Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, and, of course, our president would gladly oblige if that pesky Congress weren’t in the way. The military also sees Gitmo as essential to our national defense.

There also remains the small issue of congressional approval on the way to his lifting the trade embargo and later recognizing Cuba. But Obama doesn’t often concern himself with the niceties of constitutionality, so he could very well decide to recognize Cuba without Congress. Sadly, Congress will probably blather about it but do nothing else.

Obama has angered many Americans, including politicians on both sides of the aisle, with his apologizing to dictators for America’s offenses and now with his kissing up to the Castro regime.

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), whose parents came to America from Cuba just before his birth, said, “President Obama’s actions have vindicated the brutal behavior of the Cuban government.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), also born of Cuban immigrants, likewise slammed Obama’s actions. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Rubio wrote that Obama’s giving Castro’s regime diplomatic legitimacy “isn’t just bad for the oppressed Cuban people or for the millions who live in exile and lost everything at the hands of the dictatorship. Mr. Obama’s new Cuba policy is a victory for oppressive governments the world over and will have real, negative consequences for the American people.”

We have to say that all this comes as no surprise. Obama did promise to fundamentally transform the country, and his communist mentoring means he must lean in that direction. Actually, many people have suggested that’s where he stands. As Red State’s Erick Erickson writes, Obama’s “mentor, communist Frank Marshall Davis, would be proud of him.”

SOURCE

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Terrorists Planning Attack Along Our Southern Border

For months, we have been receiving reports that ISIS fighters have begun collaborating with Mexican cartels and training along the US-Mexico border.  Earlier reports have suggested that an attack was imminent.

Every time something like this is leaked, the Federal government categorically denies the findings. The same is true for the most recent allegations that ISIS is operating a camp just a few miles away from the border.

But while government officials discredit these reports, the FBI has gathered all of its area border assets to figure out who is leaking this information to the press. Fact.

This is where Obama’s open border policy can really bite us! So let’s review:

-       We have government officials who are warning news outlets that an attack is imminent.

-       We have leaked documents proving that terrorist chatter is up, especially concerning the US Border and Fort Bliss.

-       We have allegations that ISIS – with the help of the Cartels – is operating a training base just miles away from the border.  

And what is the administration doing? Instead of bolstering border security, Border Patrol agents are now allowed to skip patrols at certain border crossings deemed to be “too dangerous.” No, that’s not a joke. They are afraid of creating an “international incident” and some border agents are allowed to avoid entire areas of the border.

Think about that… There are wide stretches of land that border patrol agents actively avoid because they are officially deemed to be too dangerous to patrol…

Ranch owners have set up hundreds of cameras along the border and the results are shocking. Streams of illegal aliens are entering this country non-stop, and very few are being apprehended. What is even worse is that many of these illegals are carrying firearms right across the border.

Now, these men are suspected to be working for the cartels and helping smuggle weapons and drugs into the country. That's right, these guns were brought into the US from Mexico, not the other way around. But stop for a minute and imagine if these were terrorists…

We know the terrorists are working and training alongside the cartels. It is only a matter of time before we see terrorists crossing the border. That is, unless it has already happened.

The government can deny these reports all it wants. That hasn’t stopped these federal employees from blowing the whistle and warning the American people about this.

SOURCE

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

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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20 April, 2015

A summary of a psychopath

Hillary's numerous and foolish lies are typical of a psychopath

Hillary Clinton campaigns for the immigrant vote in Iowa:

”All my grandparents, you know, came over here [to America],” Hillary Clinton claimed, reinforcing her immigration reform bona fides.

Except, of course, it’s another Hillary lie - one so astonishingly obvious that you can only conclude that she lies reflexively and habitually.

Only one of her grandparents was born overseas, although another was the child of immigrants, forcing Clinton’s staff to offer this cringing explanation:

“Her grandparents always spoke about the immigrant experience and, as a result she has always thought of them as immigrants,” a Clinton spokesman told BuzzFeed News.

Remember this lie?:

The Clinton campaign says Senator Hillary Clinton may have “misspoke” recently when she said she had to evade sniper fire when she was visiting Bosnia in 1996 as first lady…

She has been using the episode as an example of her foreign policy bona fides.

“I certainly do remember that trip to Bosnia,” she said last week. “...I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

But her account has been challenged, first by Sinbad, the comedian, who traveled with her, and then by news organizations, most notably the Washington Post, which awarded her four “Pinnochios” which it gives for major “whoppers.”

A number of videos have been posted to YouTube juxtaposing a CBS news report with Mrs. Clinton’s statements last week:

Roger Stone recounts more Hillary lies:

As Hillary’s now infamous email scandal demonstrates, in which Madam Secretary purposely used private email to conduct government business and escape disclosure requirements, telling the truth is outside her DNA. For instance, during the sole time Hillary publicly addressed this issue at the UN press conference, she claimed that some of the deleted emails were between Bill and her. Yet the Wall Street Journal reported only hours before the press conference that the impeached former president has “sent a grand total of two emails during his entire life.”

She also got busted lying about having one computer device when proof existed that she used two…

Whitewater was a failed real estate venture which lost money for all equity partners but siphoned $800,000 in campaign funds to Bill Clinton’s campaign and paid Hillary’s law firm handsomely. As First Lady, Hillary was caught criminally defying 1994 congressional and federal subpoenas. During the Whitewater investigation, a grand jury subpoena was issued for all of Rose Law Firm billing records. Rose Law Firm claimed that the documents were destroyed and the Clintons claimed that they did not have them. Yet two years later, the Rose billing records were discovered in the personal residence of the White House by a staffer. Hillary, of course, claimed no wrongdoing.

In January 2001, a scandal broke when Hillary was caught taking artwork and furniture from the White House. She claimed that these items were given to Bill and her as gifts during their years in the White House. However, less than a month later on February 8th, Hillary agreed to return $28,000 worth of gifts to the White House and pay in restitution $86,000 for china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other items which was only 50 percent of the value.

This brings up another issue. If Hillary was able to make an $86,000 vanity purchase in February 2008, then why did she describe herself as “dead broke” upon leaving the White House?…

Of course Hillary has often lied about her biography for convenience as well. Since at least 1995, Hillary claimed that her mother named her after Sir Edmund Hillary, the first climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Bill even mentioned this anecdote in his autobiography. The only problem, Hillary was born in 1947 and Sir Edmund did complete his historic feat until 1953.

Mona Charen on perhaps the most disgusting Hillary lie:

...let’s not forget what it took for Mrs. Clinton to lie to the grieving father of an American hero…

A convoy of well-armed terrorists rolled into the complex housing the American consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. The attackers sealed off streets leading to the consulate with trucks and then commenced the attack on the building using rocket-propelled grenades, AK-47s, mortars, and artillery mounted on trucks.... The terrorists killed Ambassador Stevens and another American and set the building ablaze.  (Two more Americans would die later attempting to protect the annex.)… [N]o help arrived…

As soon as the next morning, Congressman Mike Rogers, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, described the attack as a “commando-style event” with “coordinated fire, direct fire, [and] indirect fire.” A few days later the Libyan president said that it was a planned terrorist attack…

Yet a well-orchestrated disinformation campaign by the Obama administration managed to put the press off the story and mislead the American people… At 10:32 on the night of the attack, Secretary Clinton issued a statement deploring violence in response to “inflammatory material posted on the Internet.” In the days that followed, the president and his spokesman repeatedly invoked the supposedly offensive video as the cause of the attack. The president and secretary of state even filmed commercials to play in Muslim countries denouncing the video ...

But as the State Department finally disclosed a month after the attack..., there was no protest outside the American consulate in Benghazi. Nothing. Not a peep. As the Rhodes memo makes clear, the president sent his U.N. ambassador to the Sunday shows to lie. Susan Rice was “to underscore that these protests are rooted in an Internet video, and not a broader failure of policy."…

When the Libyan ambassador to the U.S. apologized to [Clinton] on September 13 for the “terror attack,” she ignored this and burbled on about “The Innocence of Muslims.” The president, the vice president, and Mrs. Clinton welcomed the bodies of Chris Stevens, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and Glen Doherty to Andrews Air Force base on September 14.

According to Woods’s father,… Mrs. Clinton stayed on message. She greeted the man whose son who had bravely attempted to fight off far more numerous and better-armed terrorists on the roof of the CIA annex and who gave his life… Did she express regret that [his son] had been left nearly alone to fight off the Islamist terrorists? No… She told Mr. Woods that they would catch the guy who made the Internet film and make sure he was punished.

SOURCE

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Reality is Optional for the Left

By Walter E. Williams

One of the wonders of modern times is that reality is often seen as a social construct and therefore optional. Thus, if one finds a particular reality offensive or inconvenient, he just "changes" it.

Say that one is born a male or a female but believes that nature made an error. Some believe that nature's "error" can be corrected by calling oneself another sex. Possibly a medical procedure on one's genitalia can correct nature's error. However, Mother Nature is ruthless. Sex determination is strictly chromosomal. Females are XX, and males are XY. There is no medical procedure that can change that. Once a male or female, always a male or female.

What about the chant "Hands up; don't shoot," echoed during street demonstrations and rioting and even in the halls of Congress? The lie was that Michael Brown had held his hands up to surrender to a white racist Ferguson, Missouri, police officer, Darren Wilson, who then shot him in cold blood. Even after it was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the reality was entirely different, it didn't matter. "Hands up; don't shoot" became the chant across the land.

"More women are victims of domestic violence on Super Bowl Sunday than on any other day of the year." That's the lie produced by feminists in 1993. It received a boost at this year's Super Bowl game in a 30-second, multimillion-dollar ad co-sponsored by the NFL, currying favor with women's groups as a result of a few players' misbehavior. Regarding the grossly bogus study, feminist writer Christina Hoff Sommers concluded, "How a belief in that misandrist canard can make the world a better place for women is not explained."

When President Barack Obama swapped five Taliban terrorists for U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, now charged with desertion, he gave us some historical insights. Obama said, "This (exchange of prisoners) is what happens at the end of wars." He added: "That was true for George Washington. That was true for Abraham Lincoln. That was true for FDR. That's been true of every combat situation, that at some point, you make sure that you try to get your folks back. And that's the right thing to do."

There was a bit of a history problem with Obama's claim. George Washington did not become president until 1789, six years after the Revolutionary War's end in 1783. There were no prisoners for him to exchange.

Lincoln was assassinated April 14, 1865. The Civil War ended June 2, 1865. Lincoln was dead and didn't have the opportunity to exchange prisoners at the war's end.

Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a stroke April 12, 1945. The war in Europe ended May 8, 1945. The Japanese empire surrendered Aug. 15, 1945.

The historical fact of business is that none of the presidents Obama mentioned was in office at the time that his war ended, so how in the world could they make prisoner swaps as Obama asserted?

Gun control advocates argue that stricter gun control laws would reduce murders. They ignore the fact that Brazil, Mexico and Russia have some of the strictest gun control laws but murder rates higher than ours. On the other hand, Switzerland and Israel have higher gun ownership rates than we but much lower murder rates. These are realities that gun controllers ignore.

Another reality completely ignored in the gun control debate is the reason the Founding Fathers gave Second Amendment protections. Alexander Hamilton wrote, "If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government."

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "What country can preserve (its) liberties if (its) rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms." I leave it up to you to decide what representatives and rulers the founders were talking about.

SOURCE

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The great deceiver again

It's no surprise that Barack Obama likes to misrepresent his policies and his record. The latest example is the whopper he told a town-hall audience in Charlotte about his record on taxes and spending. "If you listen to some of my political critics, they always want to paint me or the Democratic Party as this tax-and-spend, you know, irresponsible," he complained. "Since I came into office, the federal deficit's come down by two-thirds."

He loves this line because his adoring audiences don't know the difference between "debt" and "deficit," and because it allows him to leave out two particularly inconvenient truths: First, he and his party nearly quadrupled the deficit before the Tea Party gave Republicans control of the House in 2010; and second, the national debt has gone from $10.6 trillion to more than $18 trillion since Obama took office.

But, hey, he cut the deficit! Furthermore, Obama's never met a tax he didn't like, and he's always looking for new "investments" to make in education, infrastructure, job training, or any number of other leftist programs. Raise taxes, spend more money, repeat. That's the Democrat way.

SOURCE

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Hillary's Income Inequality Platform Problem

While Hillary Clinton established her campaign on reducing income inequality, she has not practiced what she preached. “Americans have fought their way back from tough economic times, but the deck is still stacked in favor of those at the top,” Clinton said in the video announcing her presidential campaign “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion.”

Sure, Clinton can talk all she wants, but her platform places her between the idealistic Left and her salary. Progressives are beginning to say a $15-an-hour wage is the only wage they will support, probably to the chagrin of Seattle small businesses that have to close because of the city’s $15-an-hour wage experiment.

And Hillary has acted precisely like the CEOs and one-percenters she lambasts. Her $200,000-an-hour speaking gigs place her firmly in the filthy rich category. Furthermore, she directs all her salary through her foundation, so she avoids paying taxes. The income deck is, indeed, stacked in her favor

SOURCE

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No Tip for You!

Hillary Clinton is “hitting the road to earn your vote,” but she managed to visit an Ohio Chipotle restaurant without actually interacting with or being recognized by anybody. Even the employees didn’t know she was there until after she left. But maybe that was a good thing, since she didn’t leave a tip. The store manager said, “Her bill was $20 and some change, and they paid with $21 and left” without putting anything in the counter tip jar.

Normally, it’s not a huge deal to skip the tip at a fast food restaurant when no particular person is serving you at a table. Indeed, even the manager played it off as no big deal.

But Hillary is worth north of $100 million and hauls in $300,000 just for making a speech. Surely she could spare a few bucks for the hard-working people at Chipotle when she had the opportunity to make a difference — if for nothing else than a photo-op of her caring generosity. After all, she tells us “everyday Americans need a champion.” Evidently, that champion isn’t her.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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19 April, 2015

Quick thinkers are born not made: The speed at which we process new information is written in our genes

The journal article for that is: "GWAS for executive function and processing speed suggests involvement of the CADM2 gene".  Processing speed is one aspect of IQ so this is another genetic contribution to IQ identified.

It has long been agreed that IQ is affected by many genes but an earlier article in the same series ("Genetic contributions to variation in general cognitive function: a meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in the CHARGE consortium (N=53949)" shows that 28% to 29% of the genes affecting IQ have now been identified:  "The proportion of phenotypic variation accounted for by all genotyped common SNPs [single-nucleotide polymorphism] was 29% and 28%"

The first article in the series was "Genome-wide Studies of Verbal Declarative Memory in Nondemented Older People: The Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology Consortium".  It isolated genes for memory performance, also important to IQ

"General cognitive function" is basically just a euphemism for IQ  -- less likely to frighten the horses. It is encouraging to see the long list of academics involved in the studies above.  Interest in studying "general cognitive function" is obviously widespread, despite its political incorrectness. Layman's account of the first study mentioned above given below


Quick thinkers are born not made, claim scientists.  They have discovered a link between our genes and the ability to remain mentally on the ball in later life.  It is the first time a genetic link has been shown to explain why some people have quick thinking skills.

Researchers identified a common genetic variant – changes in a person’s genetic code – related to how quickly a person is able to process new information.  The researchers say the finding could help understand how the brain works, and why some people develop mental decline, while others do not.

Professor Ian Deary, director of the centre for cognitive ageing and cognitive epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh and a co-author on the study, said: ‘Processing speed is thought to be a core capability for preserving other mental skills in older age.

‘This inkling into why some people's processing speed is more efficient than others is a small but encouraging advance in understanding the biological foundations of more efficient thinking.’

Professor Deary said the study found one variant with a relation to processing speed.  He said: ‘The genetic difference that was significantly related to slight slowing of processing speed was one that about one third of the population have.’

The Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) Consortium, which includes experts at the University of Edinburgh, brought together data from 12 different countries on 30,000 people, aged more than 45 years old.

The participants – none of whom had dementia – took cognitive function tests that included tests of simple, repeated coding under pressure of time. 

Researchers then processed the results alongside details of each person’s genome to identify genetic variants or changes associated with speed of thinking skills.

People with slower processing speed overall were found to have variants near a gene called CADM2.

The CADM2 gene is linked to the communication process between brain cells - the gene is particularly active in the frontal and cingulate cortex in the brain, which are areas of the brain involved in thinking speed.

Professor Deary said the study examined the genetic contribution to processing speed differences among middle-aged and older people.

‘This is important because, as people age, when processing speed slows down there tends to be reduced efficiency of other thinking skills too, like reasoning executive functions, and some aspects of memory,' he said. 

‘So it is important to understand the mechanisms by which people differ in their processing speed.'

Lead researcher Dr Carla Ibrahim-Verbaas, resident in Neurology at Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam, said: ‘We have identified a genetic variant which partly explains the differences in information processing speed between people.

‘Our study confirms the likely role of CADM2 in between-cell communication, and therefore cognitive performance. It is of interest that the gene has also been linked to autism and personality traits.’

The study complements two other recent discoveries by the CHARGE team, which identified genetic variants associated with memory performance and general cognitive functioning in older adults.

The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry journal, involved researchers in Australia, Austria, Croatia, Finland, France, Germany, Holland, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the UK and the US.

SOURCE

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An interesting answer to Mrs Obama

Why is the woman below so healthy?  According to Mrs Obama and the food dictators she should be dead.  There are many examples of extreme diets doing no harm.  It's doubtful if anybody knows what an unhealthy diet is. Eskimos living on a traditional diet eat little else but meat and blubber.  It's difficult to grow vegetables at the North pole.  It's a definite that neither broccoli nor Brussels sprouts are needful for a healthy diet



A young woman says she lives on almost nothing but Rice Krispies – and insists she is still healthier than most people.

Natalie Swindells, 26, eats four bowls of the cereal every day. She can’t face eating much else and has not tasted a vegetable for nearly two decades.

The bank worker, who says she has never taken a day off sick, stopped eating most other foods from the age of two. She now believes overeating causes more health problems than having a very restricted diet like her own.

‘I think doctors overestimate the amount of vitamins that we need to be healthy,’ she said.  ‘I think it is about how much you eat, not what you’re eating.’

In a typical day, Miss Swindells will have two bowls of Rice Krispies with milk for breakfast, followed by a slice of bread and butter for lunch, and two bowls of Rice Krispies again for dinner.

She will also occasionally eat milk chocolate, ready salted crisps and chips. Although she consumes fewer than half of the recommended 2,000 calories for women Miss Swindells still has an active lifestyle. She lives in Macclesfield with her boyfriend Daniel Walsh, 26, who she says has grown accustomed to her strange eating habits.  ‘He’s pretty cool with it,’ she said.

In fact, the last time she tasted a vegetable was 18 years ago, when her mother tried to make her eat a roast dinner – and failed.

SOURCE

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Hillary’s Ungainly Glide

PEGGY NOONAN
 
Hillary Clinton’s announcement followed by her dark-windowed SUV journey into deepest darkest America was the most inept, phony, shallow, slickily-slick and meaningless launch of a presidential candidacy I have ever seen. We have come to quite a pass when the Clintons can’t even do the show business of politics well. The whole extravaganza has the look of profound incompetence and disorganization—no one could have been thinking this through—or profound cynicism, or both. It has yielded only one good thing, and that is a memorable line, as Mrs. Clinton glided by reporters: “We do have a plan. We have a plan for my plan.” That is how the Washington Post quoted her, on ideas on campaign finance reform.

Marco Rubio had a pretty great announcement in that it made the political class look at him in a new way, and a better way. I have heard him talk about his father the bartender I suppose half a dozen times, yet hearing it again in his announcement moved me. I don’t know how that happened. John Boehner is the son of a barkeep. It has occurred to me a lot recently that many if not most of the people I see in the highest reaches of American life now come from relatively modest circumstances. Rubio is right that this is our glory, but I’m thinking one of the greatest things about America is a larger point: There’s room for everybody. You can rise if you come from one of the most established, wealthiest families, and you can rise if you came from nothing.

I have promised myself I will stop talking about the musical “Hamilton” and so will not note that this is one of the points made in the musical “Hamilton”: America was special in this regard from the beginning, with landed gentry like Jefferson and Washington working side by side with those such as the modestly born Ben Franklin and the lowborn Alexander Hamilton. But now it is more so. Anyway, back to Rubio: “Yesterday’s over” was good, and strict, and was a two shot applying as much to the Clintons as the Bushes.

Two points on the general feel of the 2016 campaign so far.

One is that in the case of Mrs. Clinton we are going to see the press act either like the press of a great nation—hungry, raucous, alive, demanding—or like a hopelessly sickened organism, a big flailing octopus with no strength in its arms, lying like a greasy blob at the bottom of the sea, dying of ideology poisoning.

Republicans know—they see it every day—that Republican candidates get grilled, sometimes impertinently, and pressed, sometimes brusquely. And it isn’t true that they’re only questioned in this way once they announce, Scott Walker has been treated like this also, and he has yet to announce. Republicans see this, and then they see that Mrs. Clinton isn’t grilled, is never forced to submit to anyone’s morning-show impertinence, is never the object of the snotty question or the sharp demand for information. She gets the glide. She waves at the crowds and the press and glides by. No one pushes. No one shouts the rude question or rolls out the carefully scripted set of studio inquiries meant to make the candidate squirm. She is treated like the queen of England, who also isn’t subjected to impertinent questions as she glides into and out of venues. But she is the queen. We are not supposed to have queens.

Second point: We have simply never had a dynamic like the one that seems likely to prevail next year.

On the Republican side there is a good deep bench and there will be a hell of a fight among serious and estimable contenders. A handful of them—Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rubio, maybe Bobby Jindal—are first-rate debaters, sharp advancers of a thought and a direction. Their debates, their campaigning, their oppo geniuses, their negative ads—it’s all going to be bloody. Will the American people look at them in 2016 and see dynamism and excitement and youth and actual ideas and serious debate? Will it look like that’s where the lightning’s striking and the words have meaning? Will it fortify and revivify the Republican brand? Or will it all look like mayhem and chaos? Will the eventual winner emerge a year from now too bloodied, too damaged to go on and win in November? Will the party itself look bloody and damaged?

On the Democratic side we have Mrs. Clinton, gliding. If she has no serious competition, will the singularity of her situation make her look stable, worthy of reflexive respect, accomplished, serene, the obvious superior choice? Or will Hillary alone on the stage, or the couch, or in the tinted-window SUV, look entitled, presumptuous, old, boring, imperious, yesterday?

Will it all come down to bloody versus boring? And which would America prefer?

SOURCE

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How Much Do the Top 1 Percent Pay of All Taxes?

Ever since President Obama started running for president in 2007, there has been a debate about how much tax rich Americans pay and whether they should pay more.

In that ongoing debate, Paul Krugman and Matt Yglesias criticized the chart below because, according to them, it does not give a complete picture of the tax burden borne by Americans because it only includes the federal income tax.

Since the rich pay a higher share of federal income taxes than of total federal taxes, they argued we were misleading by making it look like the rich pay a higher share of taxes than they do.

We responded to them here and here. In those responses, we showed we weren’t being misleading because we make plain the chart includes only federal income tax. Furthermore, examining the federal income tax makes sense because President Obama has long wanted to raise it on the rich.

We also agreed that it made sense to look at the total federal tax burden, in addition to federal income taxes, to offer additional context to the debate.

In that spirit, here is a new chart that shows the burden of all federal taxes, including individual income, corporate income, payroll, excise and other miscellaneous taxes:

It still shows the same story: Top earners pay a disproportionately large share of the federal tax burden.

The top 10 percent pays 53.3 percent of all federal taxes. When looking at just federal income taxes, they pay 68 percent of the burden.

The top 1 percent pays 24 percent of all federal taxes compared to 35 percent of all federal income taxes.

The data for total federal taxes comes from the Congressional Budget Office. The data for federal income taxes comes from the IRS. Heritage has not altered the data from either in any way, except to combine income categories in the Congressional Budget Office data.

The top 10 percent and top 1 percent pay smaller shares of the tax burden when looking at total federal taxes than federal income taxes because the payroll tax, which accounts for more than a third of all federal tax receipts, is more evenly distributed than the income tax. But the corporate tax tempers that effect because it falls mostly (75 percent according to Congressional Budget Office) on shareholders, most of whom earn higher incomes, although not all of them.

Neither chart makes a judgment on whether those top earners pay too much or if they should pay more. The purpose of the original chart and this one is simply to give the American people facts.

More HERE. (See the original for links and graphics)

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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17 April, 2015

Ancient Chinese capitalism

An interesting post on Quora by an old China hand

If I could only share one thing from China I think it would be the Chinese philosophy of Daoism. A lot of people think that capitalism has no respectable political theory behind it but the philosophy of Daoism is over 2500 years old and articulates the theory of libertarian government and laissez faire economics a mere two millennia before Adam Smith.

The political philosophy of an Emperor governing by doing as little as possible, by dismantling all government programs like rice storage and irrigation works. The economic theory that if left alone, farmers will grow what is needed, by responding to climate and soil and market prices. Goods in excess in one place or period, will be transported or stored so as to fetch a higher price where they are more needed. Without the government lifting a hand, goods in excess in a place of plenty will be transferred by merchants to a place of drought or shortage. Without the government building stores and compulsorily seizing crops against a bad winter, merchants will buy the cheap grain and store it to be sold when supply runs out.

Hence the complete lack of need for the traditional strong central government prescribed by the Confucian system. It was tried in the Early Han and worked brilliantly, but the scholars hated the idea of a rich merchant class which could compete with them for privilege and status, so they had a big meeting and got the Emperor to abandons Daoist economics for government monopolies which they could control for their own benefit.

Just think, if the Emperor had seen through the scheming scholars, China might have become capitalist half a millennium before Europe!

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China, Not America, Rescues Its Own Citizens Stuck in Yemen

As the situation in Yemen continues to deteriorate, consider this striking contrast between the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the United States.

One country dispatched naval forces to evacuate its citizens from the collapsing Middle East state. In the process, they evacuated citizens from 10 other countries, including Great Britain, Japan and Germany.

The other country closed its embassy nearly a month ago, but did not evacuate its own citizens who remained behind. Instead, it told them that they were on their own, providing information for contacting other nations’ embassies. That country’s foreign ministry spokesperson observed that the use of military assets would only raise the level of risk.

Which country did which?

It might surprise you that the country that actively evacuated citizens from multiple countries was the People’s Republic of China. Or that it was the American State Department whose spokesperson Marie Harf dismissed the idea of using American military assets to evacuate its citizens.

The Chinese Navy, of course, has been steadily expanding its capabilities, so we should not be surprised that it can conduct such operations.

What is surprising is that the U.S. Navy, whose recent messaging centered on the tagline “A force for good,” should be so absent from the evacuation effort. It’s certainly not because the U.S. is absent from the region.

Indeed, even as Chinese and Indian naval elements have been evacuating citizens from various countries, the American military has been providing assistance to the Saudis, who are conducting airstrikes into Yemen.

One can only wonder what the administration sees as its primary responsibility. As it pulls out the stops on the Iran deal, there are American citizens in Yemen who are undoubtedly wondering where they fit on government priorities.

SOURCE

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Income Inequality: Married Couples With Kids Make Average of $107,054

If American politicians wanted to drive down the income of the American people and make this a poorer nation — and they actually studied the government's own data about who does well financially in the United States — they would seek to advance policies that discourage traditional family life and child-rearing.

Married couples with children under 18 years of age, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey (Table HINC-04), made an average household income of $107,054 in 2013 and a median household income of $85,087.

"A married couple, as defined for census purposes, is a husband and wife enumerated as members of the same household," says the Census Bureau in its list of definitions used in the Current Population Survey.

How do a husband and wife with kids compare to Americans living in other social arrangements?

Well, married couples with no children under 18 had an average household income of $91,870 in 2013 and a median household income of $70,995. That was about 86 percent of the average household income and 83 percent of median household income earned by their married counterparts who did have children under 18.

Unmarried couples with children under 18 had an average household income of $65,337 and a median of $50,031. That was only about 61 percent of the average income and 59 percent of median household income of their married counterparts.

Unmarried couples with no children did only a little bit better, with average household incomes of $76,609 and median household incomes of $62,126. That was only about 72 percent of the average household income and 73 percent of the median household income of married couples with kids.

Nonfamily male householders with no minor children had an average household income of $53,217 and a median of $36,600. That was only about 50 percent of the average household income and 43 percent of the median household income of married couples with kids.

Nonfamily female households with no minor children had an average household income of $39,781 and a median of $26,355. That was only 37 percent of the average household income and 31 percent of the median household income of married couples with children.

Of course, many young unmarried Americans who have no children today will get married and have children in the future.

The Census Bureau data shows that Americans who become part of a married couple follow a higher household income trajectory than those who live alone or in nonfamily households.

According to the bureau's Table HINC-02, married couple families with householders 24 years old or younger have an average household income of $48,275 and a median household income of $41,360.

By the time these married couple families are in the 35-to-39 age bracket, their average household income surpasses six figures at $104,696 and their median household income is $83,609.

The median income of married couple families peaks at $94,780 in the 45-to-49 age bracket and the average income peaks at $118,190 in the 50-to-54 age bracket.

According to the Census Bureau married couple families spend their retirement years (65 and over) with average ($74,978) and median ($53,856) household incomes higher than the overall average ($72,641) and median ($51,939) household incomes for all age brackets.

By contrast, the median household income of nonfamily households peaks at $48,269 when the householder is 30 to 34 years old and the average household income of nonfamily households peaks at $61,436 when the householder is in the 25-to-29 age bracket.

Male householders living alone hit a peak median household income of $41,187 when they are 40-to-44 years old and a peak average household income of $57,110 in that same age bracket. That is only about 43 percent of the peak median income ($94,780) of the married couple family and only about 48 percent of the peak average income ($118,190) of the married couple family.

Why do married couples with kids have higher household incomes?

Perhaps it is because they are not primarily driven by greed but something quite the opposite: a willingness to make sacrifices so their children may live better lives.

It is telling that married couples with children tend to end up with higher incomes than people who only need to maintain a household for themselves.

And it is a telling irony that some politicians would like to redistribute wealth from the former type of household to the latter while making fewer people dependent on themselves and their families and more dependent on government.

SOURCE

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Congress Scores Political Victory Over Obama in Iran Deal

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee forced Barack Obama to back away from his one-man approach to negotiations with Iran. Under Sen. Bob Corker’s leadership, the committee on Tuesday passed a bill that would require Congress review Obama’s deal with Iran before lifting sanctions against the country. The bill passed 19-0 and is expected to pass both chambers with veto-proof majorities.

Before the bill broke out of committee, Obama lobbied Congress to stay out of his dealings with Iran and its nuclear program. Now, Obama’s saying he may sign the legislation, cowing to the rightful demands of Congress.

But Corker’s bill is far from perfect. Conservative commentator Noah Pollack tweeted, “The way Corker & Graham wrote their bill, Obama will win Congressional approval of Iran deal with only 34 votes. Ponder that.”

In other words, a decision not to approve Obama’s bill faces the challenge of herding all the cats of Congress in the same direction. The Wall Street Journal argues the ideal role of Congress is to pass a treaty because nuclear deals should not be sealed with talk and a handshake. Corker’s bill is a victory, but merely a political one.

SOURCE

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The Armenian genocide was also a jihad

by Jeff Jacoby

UNLIKE SOME of Pope Francis's other headline-generating pronouncements, his description of Turkey's mass murder of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I as "genocide" was anything but inadvertent.

Speaking at the Vatican during a Sunday mass to mark the centenary of the slaughter, the pope said it is "widely considered the first genocide of the 20th century" — a quote from Pope John Paul II, who used nearly the same words in 2001. But Francis went further, equating the destruction of the Armenians to the Nazi Holocaust and the Soviet bloodbaths under Stalin. And he linked the genocidal Ottoman assault on Armenia, the world's oldest Christian nation, with the epidemic of violence against Christians today, especially by such radical Islamist terror groups as ISIS, Boko Haram, and al-Shabaab.

Turkey reacted angrily, recalling its ambassador to the Vatican and accusing Francis of distorting history and spreading prejudice. On Twitter, the Turkish foreign minister denounced the pope for fueling "hatred and animosity" with his "unfounded allegations." That was no surprise, given the government's vehement history of denialism on the subject. To this day, the use of the word "genocide" to describe the killing of the Armenians is a criminal offense in Turkey, and Turkish diplomats labor mightily to defeat genocide-recognition efforts worldwide.

The journalist Thomas de Waal wrote recently in Foreign Affairs that "no other historical issue causes such anguish in Washington." The political debate over "the G-Word" has consumed countless hours, even as the historical debate — as the pope suggested — has been largely resolved. As de Waal explains, Turkey is so adamant for reasons both material and psychological. Some Turkish politicians fear that acknowledging the Ottoman-perpetrated genocide could trigger claims for financial reparations or territorial concessions. But beyond that is "the emotive power of the word," which was coined in the wake of the Holocaust and is indelibly linked in the public mind with the absolute evil of the Final Solution. "No one willingly admits to committing genocide," writes de Waal, and many Turks seethe at "being invited to compare their grandparents to the Nazis."

Yet Turkish authorities weren't always so reluctant to accurately label the genocidal evil unleashed against the Armenians a century ago.

Talaat Pasha, the powerful Ottoman interior minister during World War I, certainly didn't disguise his objective. "The Government … has decided to destroy completely all the indicated [Armenians] persons living in Turkey," he brusquely reminded officials in Aleppo in a September 1915 dispatch. "An end must be put to their existence … and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to conscientious scruples."

US Ambassador Henry Morgenthau, flooded with accounts of the torture, death marches, and butchery being inflicted on the Armenians, remonstrated with Talaat to no avail. "It is no use for you to argue," Morgenthau was told. "We have already disposed of three quarters of the Armenians…. The hatred between the Turks and Armenians is now so intense that we have got to finish them. If we don't, they will plan their revenge…. We will not have the Armenians anywhere in Anatolia."

If some of them survived, it wasn't for lack of effort by the killers. Of the roughly 2 million Armenians living in the country in 1914, 90 percent were gone by 1918. The death toll was well over one million; innumerable others fled for their lives. To read eyewitness descriptions of the ghastly cruelties the Armenian Christians were made to suffer a century ago is to be reminded that the jihadist savagery of ISIS and al-Qaeda is not an innovation.

That key fact is one the pope, to his credit, refuses to downplay: Armenians were victims not only of genocide, but also of jihad. In imploring his listeners on Sunday to hear the "muffled and forgotten cry" of endangered Christians who today are "ruthlessly put to death — decapitated, crucified, burned alive — or forced to leave their homeland," Francis was reminding the world that the price of irresolution in the face of determined Islamist violence is as steep as ever.

The jihadists of 1915 murdered "bishops and priests, religious women and men, the elderly, and even defenseless children and the infirm." The world knew what was happening; the grisly details were extensively reported at the time. Just as they are now, and with as little effect.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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16 April, 2015

Word of the night: Hillionaire
 


Now that Hillary Clinton has announced her run for president, our word of the night is Hillionaire. What is Hillonaire? A person to who is worth millions of dollars but claims to be broke. Hillary Clinton is a Hillionaire.

Get ready for the Hillionaire who despite looking like she’s 100 years old ain’t in no ways tired. For the next year and half the media is going to try and make Hillary Clinton out to be Susan B. Anthony. You’ll hear nothing but gushing coverage of the rapist Bill Clinton, and about how Chelsea ‘struggled’ with that six figure a year job at NBC.

SOURCE

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Thank You, Governor Martinez!

Governor Susana Martinez of New Mexico signed groundbreaking legislation to strengthen the protection of individual rights in her state. The bill, H.B. 560, requires a criminal conviction in order for law enforcement to be able to use civil asset forfeiture to seize private property.

Civil asset forfeiture is the process by which government agents can take your property if you are suspected of a crime, but without formally filing charges. In effect, the government charges the property itself with a crime, and the burden is then on the citizen to prove his property’s innocence. Such broad powers for law enforcement clearly violate the Fifth Amendment right to due process. Law enforcement can all too easily abuse this procedure as a way to persecute innocent citizens or to self-fund their offices with forfeited assets.

Governor Martinez, as a former prosecutor, realized the danger these laws pose and wisely signed the bill the legislature sent her. All of us at FreedomWorks are extremely grateful for her help in promoting freedom for all the citizens of New Mexico.

FreedomWorks has been working hard to promote H.B 560 at every step in the process. Our community of 32,000 liberty activists in the state made nearly 5,000 phone calls to the governor's office, asking for reform to these damaging asset forfeiture policies.

The sign of a good leader is a willingness to listen to her constituents. Governor Martinez has proven that she is such a leader, and we thank her for her dedication to serving New Mexicans and reining in government power when it becomes excessive. We only wish more governors and legislators were so willing to stand up to established power and do the right thing.

SOURCE

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Trade agreement is a Trojan horse for Obama's immigration agenda

Congress is considering whether to give President Obama the power to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping international regulatory agreement the White House describes as "rules for the world's economy" — and the U.S. TPP regulates everything from the environment and energy (climate change, anyone?) to minimum wages, food and, most notably, immigration.

If approved, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would have the force of a treaty. Its regulations would override U.S. law. With fast-track trade promotion authority (TPA), only a simple majority in both houses of Congress, not a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate, would be needed for approval. Congress could not change any of the rules in it, and the White House would not be obligated to follow any directives Congress offers on what those rules should look like.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes an entire chapter on immigration. It is a Trojan horse for Obama's immigration agenda.
House members who were ready to defund the Department of Homeland Security to stop President Obama's executive action on immigration must not give him TPA, which he will use to ensure his immigration actions are locked in when he leaves office.

The U.S. Trade Representative says "temporary entry" guest worker visas are a "key feature" of the Trans-Pacific Partnership. "Temporary entry" reminds one of Milton Friedman's famous dictum: "Nothing is as permanent as a temporary government program."

TPP isn't the first time the Obama administration has used trade agreements to rewrite immigration law. Its U.S.-South Korea deal expanded the L-1 visa program, which corporations use to bring foreign workers into the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security Inspector General slammed the L-1 program for fraud. Its crackdown met with pushback from the corporate community, and the Obama administration listened — to the corporations.

Speaking at an international corporate business summit in March, Obama announced that "My administration is going to reform the L-1B visa category, which allows corporations to temporarily move workers from a foreign office to a U.S. office in a faster, simpler way. ... [T]his could benefit hundreds of thousands of nonimmigrant workers and their employers." (Emphasis added.)

Those hundreds of thousands of "nonimmigrant workers" aren't Americans — they are foreign workers not counted as immigrants.

Guest worker visas top the wish list of the corporate interests pushing immigration reform. They are also pushing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. One corporate trade association says bluntly that "The TPP should remove restrictions on nationality or residency requirements for the selection of personnel."

In The Trans-Pacific Partnership: A Quest for a Twenty-first Century Trade Agreement, Joel Trachtman declares that immigration is an "important frontier" in TPP, "promising great opportunities for individual migrants" and "developing country workers." It cites the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement as a precedent for TPP.

We know Canada is now negotiating a trade pact with the European Union that would allow corporations to bring in unlimited numbers of contract workers in a broad number of fields, including manufacturing and construction. The Trans-Pacific Partnership includes Canada, and the Obama administration is negotiating its own agreement with the EU, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

All these "21st-century trade agreements" are written by the same corporate interests and negotiators, and all have the same goal: more visas for foreign workers. If TPP goes into effect, they will be beyond the reach of any future Congress.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another instance of Obama using every means he can to advance his immigration agenda, as he said he would.

Remember this: nothing Congress puts in TPA will alter what's already been negotiated over the past six years.

It would be inexcusable for Congress to give Obama TPA so he can fast-track his immigration agenda.

SOURCE

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Obama Administration Denying Benefits to Fort Hood Victims!

Almost five years ago, a radical Islamist terrorist attacked our Fort Hood military base. For years, the Obama administration referred to the attack as “work place violence” instead of terrorism. Even though Nidal Hassan – the perpetrator – was in communication with Anwar al-Awlaki leading up to the attack, the White House continued to push the false narrative that he was nothing but a disgruntled employee.

Well, after 5 years, we are finally making progress! The dozens of American servicemen and women who were killed or injured during the attack received Purple Hearts today. The Pentagon is finally recognizing the Fort Hood attack as an act of terrorism. They have to because Congress wrote that language into the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

But there’s one catch: the Government is still refusing to provide military benefits to the victims!

Staff Sgt. Shawn Manning was shot six times during the attack and two of the bullets are still lodged inside of him.

With your help, we got Congress to declare the Fort Hood attack as an act of terror. But when Shawn Manning appealed to have his medical bills paid for by the government and to receive disability benefits, his claim was denied. The government claims his injuries are not combat related!

Isn’t this just despicable? Here we have a veteran still reeling from injuries sustained in a terror attack. And even though he is being awarded a Purple Heart – an award reserved for soldiers injured by enemy forces – the Federal government is claiming Manning’s injuries aren’t “combat related.”

Whatever it takes to perpetuate the Obama administration’s false narrative…

They are so intent on perpetuating this lie that they would actually deny a wounded veteran his combat benefits.

When a terrorist walks onto a military base and starts shooting soldiers that is an act of terrorism. It is an act of war.

It is just so shameful… Watching this administration belittle our military at every turn and do everything in its power to undermine those defending the Red, White and Blue is becoming exhausting.

And now terrorist victims are being denied combat benefits?

I hope you’re sitting down, because the Federal government’s reasoning behind this denial is despicable. This is the response that Shawn Manning got for his appeal:

“Section 571of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act addresses both the awarding of the Purple Heart to service members killed or wounded in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organizations… during the Fort Hood attack on 5 November 2009.Nowhere in the Act, however, does it offer combat benefits for service members permanently disabled in attacks inspired or motivated by foreign terrorist organization.”

Do you see what the Obama administration is saying? They’re saying that Congress might have forced them to give Purple Hearts to the victims, but the law doesn’t force them to offer combat benefits. And since the law doesn’t require it, they’re not going to do it.

Just so shameful…

When Rep. John Carter (R-TX) wrote the law to make Fort Hood victims eligible for the Purple Heart, it was assumed that this language would also make the victims eligible for combat benefits. But the Obama administration found a loophole in the law to allow them to deny these benefits applications!

SOURCE

UPDATE:

This is just shameful. While the victims of the Fort Hood terror attack are having their disability claims denied, the Obama administration is extending disability benefits to individuals who only know how to speak Spanish!

The law is supposed to help people who are illiterate, not people who are monolingual and only know how to speak Spanish. But right now, Spanish speakers are receiving their disability pay and Fort Hood victims are not!

It's not hard to see where this is going. If the Obama administration can get away with giving disability benefits to Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans, then there is nothing stopping them from doing the same for illegal aliens given amnesty!

It is just so backwards! We need to DEMAND that Congress put a stop to this Spanish disability program and make sure that every disabled veteran gets the assistance he or she needs!

SOURCE

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Today we have achieved an important victory for our Medicare and TRICARE patients

No more DocFix

By uniting our voices on Capitol Hill, we got Congress to pass the bipartisan Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act—which at last repeals the so-called "sustainable" growth rate (SGR) payment formula that perennially threatened patients' access to care.

The new legislation removes much of the instability and uncertainty that long has plagued the Medicare payment system so our practices can be here to serve our patients. A huge step in the right direction, the bill also includes several other important improvements for physician practices. (You can read more about these provisions at AMA Wire®.)

Thank you for all your efforts to help make SGR repeal a reality. The united voice of the entire medical community is powerful indeed. We celebrate this achievement for our patients.

The AMA will continue our work to ensure the sustainability of physician practices and clear roadblocks to improving the health of the nation.

Email from the AMA

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Mass Exodus From ME Welfare Program as State Requires Work

Let’s say you live in the great state of Maine, down on your luck and needing some kind of social safety net to get you through. Would you say that spending at least 20 hours volunteering, working or participating in a work-training program is a fair trade-off for getting on the state’s food stamp program? Even if you spend all your time playing “Call of Duty,” surely you could carve out some time on the weekends to volunteer at the local animal shelter.

But that requirement was too tough for 9,000 Mainiacs. Some 12,000 people were on Maine’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program before Jan. 1. After the government started enforcing the 20-hour rule, however, only 2,680 people stayed.

Maine’s Department of Health and Human Service’s Commissioner, Mary Mayhew, told the Associated Press, “If you’re on these programs it means you are living in poverty and so the more that we can help incentive people on that pathway to employment and self-sufficiency the better off they’re going to be.”

While states like Georgia dabbled with drug testing welfare recipients (which had spotty results), it seems like the best way to help “the least of these” and prevent welfare fraud is to require a bit of honest work.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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15 April, 2015

The candidate?



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High Obamacare deductibles actually DEPRIVE people of insurance

The mantra that progressives used to pass ObamaCare was the constant call for “universal coverage.” Everyone, it was argued, should have a health insurance policy, and this goal was considered important enough to force everyone in the country to buy a product whether they wanted it or not.

But focusing on one goal to the exclusion of all others can lead to unexpected pitfalls, and now, as ObamaCare turns five, we are seeing that universal coverage is meaningless without taking into account the price and quality of the – now mandatory – insurance policies.

By now, we’ve all heard about the cancelled policies and the rising premiums, which the administration has tried to justify with the unprovable claim “it would have been worse without ObamaCare.” We’ve heard about the coming doctor shortage, and the declining attendance at medical schools. And we’ve heard about the rising penalties for those who choose not to buy health insurance. But there is one aspect of insurance that has not received enough attention, and that is more devastating to people’s actual access to care than almost anything else: rising deductibles.

The deductible on an insurance policy is the amount you, the customer, have to pay out of pocket before the insurance company starts picking up the tab. Obviously, low deductibles are preferable to high ones, but some people may opt for a higher deductible in exchange for lower monthly premiums. Or at least, they used to back when they actually had a choice.

Under the Affordable Care Act, choice has been discarded in favor of uniformity, and the practical result is the worst of both worlds: higher premiums, and outrageous deductibles all at the same time!

The Kaiser Family Foundation recently released a study showing just how few people are actually able to afford ObamaCare’s deductibles. On average, just 63 percent of non-poor, non-elderly households have enough money to afford a mid-range deductible of $1,200 to $2,400. Most mid-priced ObamaCare plans fall into this category, meaning that more than a third of people who are forced to buy these plans cannot actually afford to use them.

For less well-off individuals, the news gets worse. For higher deductible plans, between $2,500 and $5,000, only 51 percent of households have enough money to pay. This is particularly grim, considering the individual deductible for ObamaCare’s cheapest plan, the Bronze Plan, has been set at an astonishing $5,181 for 2015.

People who opt for the Bronze Plan are not likely to be rolling in cash. These are the people who do not have employer-provided health insurance, and who want to pay as little per month as possible, while gambling that they remain healthy enough to avoid any serious hospital visits. In short, young people and those working temporary or part-time jobs, and not exactly the type to have $5,000 just lying around. Unaffordable insurance might as well be no insurance at all, except, of course, that anyone trying to opt out will be punished with steep penalties from the IRS.

And even without making these kinds of assumptions about Bronze Plan users, the fact that fully half of households cannot afford such high deductibles should be cause for concern for anyone who cares about actually lowering the cost and increasing the quality of medical care, rather than just ticking symbolic “universal coverage” box.

All this reveals what we have known all along. ObamaCare was never about helping people. There is no point in having insurance at all if the deductibles will bankrupt you, and universal coverage becomes a meaningless shibboleth for progressives more concerned with legacies and talking points than with actual governance.

Anyone actually interested in making health care in America better, rather than simply scoring political points, would do well to follow the principles of free markets and patient-centered care. It’s time to dismantle a broken federal bureaucracy, and let doctors go back to serving the interests of patients, not of the government.

SOURCE

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The latest Doc Fix will shaft the really sick and the elderly

When the Senate returns from recess this week, it will consider the “Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act” (MACR). The bill has acquired many names such as “The Doc Fix Fix” and “Budget Buster,” but a more appropriate one is “IPAB-lite.”

IPAB — the Independent Payment Advisory Board — was created as part of Obamacare to cut Medicare expenditures whenever those expenditures grew too quickly. Thankfully, IPAB’s unpopularity has thus far prevented it from getting off the ground. Unfortunately, the changes MACR makes to Medicare’s payment system seem very much along the lines of what IPAB would do. After all, the new payment system within MACR is consistent with IPAB’s mission, incentive structure, and likely outcomes.

IPAB is the sort of grandiose scheme one would expect from social engineers. Its mission includes producing proposals “aimed at extending the solvency of Medicare, lowering Medicare cost-growth, improving health outcomes for beneficiaries, [and] promoting quality and efficiency.” Of course, whether IPAB could achieve such goals is dubious given its incentive structure.

The incentives that IPAB’s board members would face would give them little reason to be concerned about the adverse outcomes of their proposals. IPAB members would likely pay little to no cost if they made decisions that harmed patients. The most they might suffer is public criticism and a resignation before their term is up — assuming, of course, that the consequences of their decisions become apparent before their term expires. Given how long it can sometimes take for policy decisions to be linked directly to bad consequences, IPAB members may be long gone from the board before the consequences of their decisions become apparent. If IPAB members are unaccountable for being wrong, odds are their decisions will have adverse outcomes.

One of the most likely effects of IPAB’s cost-cutting authority is that sicker patients would suffer the most. The reason is that such patients have the hardest time fighting back. More specifically, they have little ability to influence Congress to overturn IPAB’s proposals. Relatively few people become seriously ill each year, not enough to have much impact at the ballot box. Furthermore, people who are ill are generally not engaging in the networking, meetings and other activities necessary to influence Congress. As such, IPAB’s proposals could harm the sick with little political fallout.

The new payment system MACR creates for Medicare is eerily similar to the IPAB model. Dubbed the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), it will reward or penalize physicians who treat Medicare patients based on various metrics. Two of the metrics that MIPS will use to grade physicians are how well physicians’ patients score on quality measures and how many medical resources physicians use to treat patients. Under MIPS, a physician will receive a composite score, between zero and 100, based on how well he meets the MIPS criteria. Each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) will choose a “threshold” number. If a physician minimizes the use of medical resources while his patients score well on quality measures, he will likely score above that threshold and he will receive a bonus. If he scores below it, he will be penalized with a cut to his Medicare reimbursement.

The intent behind MIPS is consistent with the IPAB mission of lowering Medicare’s cost growth and improving quality. The quality measures and resource use components of MIPS are supposed to promote those goals by rewarding physicians who provide quality care at a lower cost.

But it is unlikely MIPS will achieve those goals without also harming the sickest patients. First, MIPS will be run by people with incentives similar to IPAB. The various metrics and thresholds will be devised by CMS bureaucrats, most of whom will have civil service protection. Thus, it will be all but impossible to fire them, even if MIPS does harm patients. Additionally, CMS will be advised by professional medical organizations on which quality measures to use. They, too, will pay little cost for being wrong since they receive their funding from health-care professionals and not patients.

Second, MIPS will incentivize physicians to avoid the sickest patients. For physicians, the easiest way to have patients who score well on quality measures and limit the use of resources is to treat patients who are only moderately ill. Patients who have their diabetes or their heart conditions under control will generate better scores on quality measures such a blood sugar level or blood pressure. Keeping such patients healthy will involve fewer resources. These factors will increase the chances that a physician gets a bonus on his Medicare fees.

By contrast, sicker patients will score poorly on quality measures. Treating them will require more resources. A sicker caseload likely means a physician will fall below the MIPS threshold and see his Medicare fees cut. In short, the sickest Medicare patients will have a harder time finding physicians who will treat them thanks to MIPS.

Yet it is the sicker patients who are most in need of a physician’s care. Indeed, they are the patients that a program like Medicare is supposed to serve in the first place. When President Lyndon Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965 he said, “No longer will older Americans be denied the healing miracle of modern medicine.”

Yet the MIPS program could do exactly that, at least for the Medicare patients with the most serious health problems. And changing it will prove exceedingly difficult as the sickest patients lack the political clout necessary to influence Congress

One of the goals of MACR, eliminating the unworkable Sustainable Growth Rate, is a worthy one. Getting rid of this perennial problem, however, should not come by way of a new payment system that will make it harder for sicker patients to obtain physician care. The Senate should remove MIPS. Otherwise, lawmakers risk installing an IPAB-style payment system in Medicare.

SOURCE

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Is ISIS Islamic, and Other “Foolish” Debates

“Do they think we are Jewish now? LOL,” responded one ISIS fighter in Syria when asked for his thoughts on the current public debate about whether the Islamic State is actually Islamic. He went on to make an argument, as many of these fighters often do when interviewed, that not only is the Islamic State Islamic but it is the purest and most pristine form of Islam, the kind most in line with what God and His Prophet had intended all along. Another ISIS fighter from South Africa, when asked how he knew that the Islamic State was legitimate, remarked that “I just used my brain.”

“The truth is never endorsed by the masses,” he said. “It’s always the smallest groups that are firm in truth. Migration becomes compulsory when a caliphate is established on the foundations of Sharia Law, and Muslims around the world have no valid excuse to remain amongst the infidels in enemy lands.”

This line of argument by members of the Islamic State and, to be sure, numerous other Salafi-Jihadi movements creates a major dilemma for Muslim communities around the world. How are they supposed to deal with violent movements within their faith, tiny in number but claiming greater religious authenticity, and greater claim to the truth? While this question and the debate surrounding it has been a persistent undercurrent in Western societies since 9/11 at least, the most recent spike in the conversation occurred after Graeme Wood’s cover story in the Atlantic and the numerous responses that followed. It was a welcome conversation, even if, as Wood himself recently noted, the “debate is mostly foolish.”

It is indeed foolish for a few different reasons. Firstly, the debate is largely between an “academic” view of Islam and the divisions within it, peaceful or otherwise, and a normative view of Islam, which seeks to distance the rigid, conservative, and violent forms of the religion from the one practiced by the vast majority of Muslims around the world. To argue that ISIS isn’t “Islamic” in a normative sense is to argue, to some degree, that Salafism isn’t a branch of Islam and that jihad isn’t a noble concept in the religion, arguments that are false and misleading, and severely hinder attempts to understand these movements properly.

While there was some discussion following 9/11 about whether “Al-Qaeda was Islamic”, the debate wasn’t as heated as it is today with the Islamic State. Al-Qaeda was in many ways easier to set aside – they were strange men with beards living in far off caves. When Muslim youth in Western countries join in significant enough numbers, it raises the question of Islamic authenticity more acutely. This happens even though Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are not all that different in their commitment to violent Salafi theology. The only difference, as Cole Bunzel recently pointed out, is that ISIS practices it “with greater severity.”

Secondly, what has been missing from virtually all the articleswritten on the topic thus far is a sustained analysis of ISIS primary documents and actual interviews with jihadi fighters in Syria and Iraq. Looking at ISIS documents, murals, billboards, media releases, and other publications, as well conducting interviews with fighters themselves, offers the best insight into the sources of inspiration for the group’s ideology, which defies simple characterizations. Most broadly, ISIS’ ideology is based on a narrative that is well-known, that the Muslim world has been in decline due to the lack of a Caliphate under which Muslims can fulfill their faith by living according to Islamic Law. The state of the Muslim world today is contrasted with an idealized period of history – the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of Islam, not only referring to the ‘rightly-guided’ caliphs who immediately succeeded Muhammad but also the Umayyad and Abbasid Caliphates extending through the medieval period that saw the Muslim world further ahead in scientific and human development than the West.

As a result of this projection onto an idealized medieval period, ISIS documents and publications do not adopt a mere ‘back to basic sources’ approach (in this case, the Qur’an and Sunna embodied in the hadith and life of the Prophet). Rather, great emphasis is placed on showing respect for the rulings and opinions of authorities of the four traditional schools of Sunni jurisprudence developed during the medieval period. To be sure, that does not mean no authority is given to modern jihadist thinkers or the Salafi-Wahhabi purist ‘reform’ trend dating back to the 18th century often invoked to describe ISIS’ inspiration.

While statements by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, Osama bin Laden, Sayyid Qutb, and Wahhabi scholars can all be found in detail in ISIS documents and publications, there are also considerable documents citing opinion from the four schools of Islamic legal tradition. For example, in a statement distributed in the Fallujah area on offering prayers on Eid al-Adha and Eid al-Fitr, three differing categories of opinion are given on whether the prayers are obligatory, citing all four schools to illustrate the range. In other instances, the concept of ijmaa (consensus) among the Ahl al-’Ilm (theologians, jurists etc.) is stressed, such as in a Friday sermon for Ninawa province mosques on the division of the world into the abodes of Islam and disbelief.

One could go on, but it is in the realm of IS fatwas in particular – issued by its Diwan al-Eftaa wa al-Buhuth – where the impressive ability to find opinions from medieval jurists and theologians is laid bare. Many of them are unknown to most of the outside world, including contemporary Muslims. The best example is the fatwa ISIS issued to justify burning alive the Jordanian pilot, deemed an ‘apostate’. Many were quick to say this practice is absolutely condemned in Islam, but ISIS cited Hanafi and Shafi’i jurist opinion to claim it is permissible, including specific citation of a 15th century Egyptian Shafi’i jurist.

Though the Islamic State’s approach can be dismissed as “selective quoting” of tradition, the fact remains that ISIS’ critics can be accused of the same thing. The problem is that with such a huge corpus of Islamic literature and no central infallible authority like the Pope to regulate teachings, many of ISIS’ actions, seen as heinous in this day and age, can find a place within the vastness of Islamic tradition.

We may dismiss such evidence by claiming that ISIS is only citing them in order gain legitimacy and credibility among its followers, but that’s precisely the point: they feel reassured that they have a coherent theological basis in their actions. Of course it is inaccurate to say that ISIS is Islam en bloc, but to label the movement un-Islamic is to take a normative, and ultimately self-defeating, stance. It is an argument which ignores some very basic evidence regarding the movement and its history, and impedes proper understanding of what they believe and where they are heading.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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14 April, 2015

It's not poverty after all!

The Left's all-purpose explanation won't do for sex crimes.  Latest academic findings below. And it's "whole of nation" data, not requiring sampling, which makes the findings exceptionally firm.  Sex offending is 40% genetic and only 2% related to home background.  58% is all other causes -- so the genetic influence stands out. 

As findings  in the life sciences go, the effect of genetics reported below is huge.  Medical researchers greet odds ratios of less than 1.00 with celebrations and ululations (e.g. here).  The odds ratio of 5.1 reported below would leave them gasping.  Many would never in their entire research career see a ratio that high

So let me summarize the findings below in plain language:  Some people are born bad

Out of political correctness (All men are equal, you know), the authors below would no doubt object to that formulation   -- but that is what their numbers show


Sexual offending runs in families: A 37-year nationwide study

By Niklas Långström et al.

Abstract

Background: Sexual crime is an important public health concern. The possible causes of sexual aggression, however, remain uncertain.

Methods: We examined familial aggregation and the contribution of genetic and environmental factors to sexual crime by linking longitudinal, nationwide Swedish crime and multigenerational family registers. We included all men convicted of any sexual offence (N?=?21,566), specifically rape of an adult (N?=?6131) and child molestation (N?=?4465), from 1973 to 2009. Sexual crime rates among fathers and brothers of sexual offenders were compared with corresponding rates in fathers and brothers of age-matched population control men without sexual crime convictions. We also modelled the relative influence of genetic and environmental factors to the liability of sexual offending.

Results: We found strong familial aggregation of sexual crime [odds ratio (OR)?=?5.1, 95% confidence interval (CI)?=?4.5–5.9] among full brothers of convicted sexual offenders. Familial aggregation was lower in father-son dyads (OR?=?3.7, 95% CI?=?3.2–4.4) among paternal half-brothers (OR?=?2.1, 95% CI?=?1.5–2.9) and maternal half-brothers (OR?=?1.7, 95% CI?=?1.2–2.4). Statistical modelling of the strength and patterns of familial aggregation suggested that genetic factors (40%) and non-shared environmental factors (58%) explained the liability to offend sexually more than shared environmental influences (2%). Further, genetic effects tended to be weaker for rape of an adult (19%) than for child molestation (46%).

Conclusions: We report strong evidence of familial clustering of sexual offending, primarily accounted for by genes rather than shared environmental influences. Future research should possibly test the effectiveness of selective prevention efforts for male first-degree relatives of sexually aggressive individuals, and consider familial risk in sexual violence risk assessment.

SOURCE

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Practical Thoughts on Immigration

This is a long article below but it covers the issues very well so I have decided to put it up holus bolus -- JR

The lesson from the last 20 years of immigration policy is that lawlessness breeds more lawlessness. Once a people or a government decides to normalize one form of lawbreaking, other forms of lawlessness will follow until finally the rule of law itself is in profound jeopardy. Today, we have a constitutional crisis on our hands. President Obama has decided that because Congress has not granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens living in the U.S., he will do so himself. Let us ponder for a moment just how shameless this assertion of power is.

Article 2, Section 3, of the Constitution mandates that the president “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” This provision assumes that there is a law for the president to execute. But in this case, the “problem” that Obama is purporting to fix is the absence of a law granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Rather than executing a law, Obama is making one up—arrogating to himself a function that the Constitution explicitly allocates to Congress. Should this unconstitutional power grab stand, we will have moved very far in the direction of rule by dictator. Pace Obama, the absence of a congressional law granting amnesty is not evidence of political failure that must somehow be corrected by unilateral executive action; it is evidence of the lack of popular consensus regarding amnesty. There has been no amnesty statute to date because the political will for such an amnesty is lacking.

On February 16, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen halted President Obama’s illegal amnesty with a temporary injunction. The proposed amnesty program, Judge Hanen found, went far beyond mere prosecutorial discretion not to enforce the law against individuals. Instead, the Department of Homeland Security proposed to confer on illegal aliens a new legal status known as “legal presence.” But Congress has not granted DHS the power to create and bestow legal status. The amnesty program represented a “complete abdication” of DHS’s responsibility to enforce the law, Judge Hanen declared. Indeed, DHS was actively thwarting the express will of Congress.

Pursuant to traditional canons of judicial interpretation, Judge Hanen ruled against the Obama administration on
the narrowest possible grounds in order to avoid reaching the constitutional
question. He based his decision on the law governing agency rulemaking, rather than on separation of powers grounds. But his rebuke was just
as scathing.

The administration will likely fight the ruling through the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals and, if necessary, all the way to the Supreme Court. Democrats should hope that the administration loses. They are assiduously pretending that Obama’s executive amnesty is merely an innocuous exercise of prosecutorial discretion. But if Obama’s power grab is upheld, they will rue the day that they acceded to this travesty when a Republican president decides, say, to privatize Social Security because Congress has failed to do so.

Obama’s executive amnesty is the most public and egregious example of immigration lawlessness to date. But beneath the radar screen has been an equally telling saga of cascading lawlessness that is arguably as consequential: an ongoing attack on the Secure Communities program and on deportation more generally. Because of this attack, the rallying cry of so many conservatives that we must “secure the borders” is a naïve and meaningless delusion.

***

The Secure Communities program is a commonsensical response to illegal alien criminality. Whenever an illegal alien is booked into a local jail on suspicion of a crime, an alert is automatically sent to federal authorities in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. ICE agents can then ask that the jail or prison briefly hold the illegal alien after he has served his time rather than releasing him, so that ICE can pick him up and start deportation proceedings. This is known as a detainer.

You would think that such a program would be wholly uncontroversial. An alien who crosses into our country illegally already has no claim to undisturbed presence here. He has voluntarily assumed the risk of deportation. But an illegal alien who goes on to break other laws has even less claim to protection from deportation. Yet Secure Communities has been the target of incessant protest from illegal alien advocates since its inception. Those advocates make the astonishing claim that it is unfair to remove an illegal alien who commits other crimes.

Even more astonishing, nearly 300 jurisdictions agree, including New York State, California, New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles. They have openly refused to honor ICE’s requests for detainers, but instead have released tens of thousands of criminals back on to the streets where they easily evade detection. Not that ICE would be likely to try to pick them up! Indeed, the irony regarding the agitation against Secure Communities is that ICE rarely uses its power under the program. In 2012—the last year for which we have complete figures—the agency was notified of over 400,000 illegal jail detainees, but removed only 19 percent of them. And about 50 percent of the criminal illegal aliens whom ICE chooses not to deport reoffend upon release.

***

There are two aspects of the campaign against Secure Communities that bear particular notice: the hypocrisy of the Obama administration and the campaign’s advocates, and the hypocrisy of big city police chiefs.

In 2012, Arizona became the target of universal contempt among the country’s elites for passing a law that encouraged local law enforcement officers to assist ICE with immigration enforcement. According to illegal alien advocates and the Obama administration, this law, known as SB 1070, was an unconstitutional state usurpation of the federal government’s plenary power over immigration matters. The Obama administration sued Arizona for allegedly interfering with federal authority over immigration and won an injunction against SB 1070. Yet now these same advocates are urging states and localities to defy the federal government’s requests for immigration assistance, resulting in the creation of local sanctuary zones where federal immigration authority cannot reach.

If ever there were a lawless usurpation of the federal government’s power over immigration, the open revolt against Secure Communities is it. Yet the Obama administration, rather than hauling these recalcitrant jurisdictions to court, has lain supine and chastely looked the other way. And late last year, it threw in the towel completely. It dismantled the Secure Communities program except in a few narrow instances, agreeing with the activists that it was unfair to worry illegal alien criminals about deportation.

There is another aspect of the campaign against Secure Communities that shows the corrosiveness of our tolerance of lawlessness. Major police chiefs in high immigration jurisdictions are under enormous political pressure to protect illegal aliens. And that has meant tossing aside everything that they know about public safety and policing. One of the great insights of policing in the last two decades was the realization that low level misdemeanor offenses like graffiti, turnstile jumping, drunk driving, and drug sales have an outsized impact on a community’s perceptions of public safety and on the actual reality of crime. Enforcing misdemeanor offenses is an effective way of incapacitating more serious criminals. And even when an offender does not go on to commit more violent felonies, such allegedly minor offenses as shoplifting and illegal street vending create a sense of lawlessness and disorder that breaks down the fabric of a community. Police chiefs like New York’s William Bratton and Los Angeles’s Charlie Beck know this. Yet they have fiercely opposed cooperating with the federal government on Secure Communities, on the ground that misdemeanor offenses are too trivial to worry about and should not subject illegal aliens to deportation. This is pure hypocrisy—the result of the enormous pressure of demographic change on our principles.

The ultimate goal of the campaign against Secure Communities is to delegitimate deportation entirely as a response to illegal immigration. If it is morally unacceptable to repatriate even a convicted illegal alien criminal, then it is all the more unacceptable to repatriate someone who has “merely” crossed the border illegally. This undermining of alien-removals is behind the constant protests demanding to “stop deportations now.” It is behind the claim that it is Americans who are to blame for separating families, rather than the alien who knowingly came into the country in violation of our laws and assumed the risk of being sent home.

The campaign against deportation does not name itself as such, but it has been highly successful. Despite the false rhetoric of the Obama administration, deportation has basically disappeared from the interior of the country. The removal rate in 2014 for illegal aliens who were not explicit ICE priorities was one-half of one percent. If aliens cannot be removed for illegal entry, then there is no more immigration law. Deportation is the only remedy for illegal entry that corrects and deters the original lawbreaking. That is why Mexico, along with virtually every other country, practices it unapologetically. Lose deportation, as we are doing, and the U.S. will have formally ceded control of its immigration policy to people living outside its borders. National sovereignty will have become meaningless.

The delegitimizing of deportation makes the conservative rallying cry to secure the borders sadly naïve. An utterly secure border is impossible; people will always find a way to cross. But if, once they cross, nothing can be done to them, then we may as well not have borders. That’s why the advocates have spent all their energy fighting deportation rather than fighting increased border security—because they know that eradicating the former is far more important.

***

The erosion of the rule of law is bad enough. But the social consequences of mass illegal immigration are equally troubling. We are importing poverty and educational failure. If you want to see America’s future, look no further than my home state of California, which is a generation ahead of the rest of the country in experiencing the effects of unchecked low-skilled immigration.

Nearly 50 percent of all California births are now Hispanic, and the state’s Hispanic population is now almost equal to the white population. The consequences of this demographic shift have been profound. In the 1950s and ’60s, California led in educational achievement. Today, with a majority Hispanic K-12 population and the largest concentration of English language learners in the country, California is at the bottom of the educational heap. Over a third of California eighth graders lack even the most rudimentary math skills; 28 percent are equally deficient in reading. The mathematics performance gap between Hispanic and white eighth-graders has not budged since 1990; the reading gap has narrowed only slightly since 1998.

California is at the epicenter of the disturbing phenomenon of “long-term English learners.” You would think that an English learner would be someone who grew up in a foreign country speaking a foreign language, and who came to the U.S. only later in life. In fact, the vast majority of English learners are born here, but their cognitive and language skills are so low that they are deemed non-native English speakers. Nationally, 30 percent of all English learner students are third-generation Americans.

In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown pushed through a controversial law to try to close the achievement gap between California’s growing Hispanic population and its Anglo and Asian populations. That law redistributes tax dollars from successful schools to those with high proportions of English learners and low-income students. It remains to be seen whether this latest effort to raise the education outcomes of the children of low-skilled immigrants will prove more effective than its predecessors. Working against that possibility is Hispanics’ high dropout rate—the highest in the state and the nation—and their equally unmatched teen pregnancy rate.

To be sure, many illegal Hispanic aliens possess an admirable work ethic and have stabilized some moribund inner-city areas like South Central Los Angeles. But thanks to their lack of social capital, many of their children and grandchildren are getting sucked into underclass culture. The Hispanic out-of-wedlock birth rate in California and the U.S. is 53 percent—twice what it was in the black population in 1965 when Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote his prescient warning about the catastrophe of black family breakdown. The incarceration rate of Mexican-Americans in California shoots up eight-fold between the first and second generations, to equal the black incarceration rate. Gang involvement is endemic in barrio schools, giving rise to a vast taxpayer-supported army of anti-gang counselors serving the children of single mothers.

This social service bureaucracy in barrio schools is just the tip of the iceberg. Welfare use among immigrants and their progeny is stubbornly high, because their poverty rates are stubbornly high. Hispanics are the biggest users of government health care and the biggest supporters of Obamacare. They favor big government and the higher taxes necessary to pay for it. The claim that low-skilled immigration is an economic boon to the country as a whole is false. It fails to take into account the government services consumed by low-skilled immigrants and their children, such as schools, hospitals, and prisons.

***

So what should be done? First of all, we must reassert the primacy of the rule of law. At the very least, that means rehabilitating deportation and ceasing to normalize illegal immigration with our huge array of sanctuary policies. Liberals appear indifferent to the erosion of law, and even too many conservatives are willing to excuse immigration law-breaking in order to placate what they imagine to be a conservative voting bloc in waiting. But let us hope the rule of law is not lost.

I would not at present offer an amnesty to those who have voluntarily chosen to violate the law, since every amnesty, both in the U.S. and Europe, has had one effect and one effect only: more illegal immigration. People who come into the country illegally or overstay their visas do so knowingly. They assume the risk of illegal status; it is not our moral responsibility to wipe it away. Their children, if they are born here, are already American citizens, thanks to the misguided policy of birthright citizenship. The illegal status of their parents is a problem that will eventually fade away as that first generation dies out. The Obama amnesty, however, actually incentivizes the use of birthright citizenship, since it rewards with legal status illegal aliens who have American citizen children.

I would also radically reorient our legal immigration system towards high skilled immigrants like the parents of Google’s founder, Sergey Brin. Canada, Australia, and other countries are already benefiting from placing a priority on skilled immigrants.

Immigration policy should be forged with one consideration in mind: America’s economic self-interest. Immigration is not a service we provide to the rest of the world. Yes, we are a nation of immigrants and will continue to be one. No other country welcomes as many newcomers. But rewarding illegal immigration does an injustice to the many legal immigrants who played by the rules to get here. We owe it to them and to ourselves to adhere to the law.

SOURCE

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

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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13 April, 2015

Why is Northeast Asia poorer than the USA?

The statistics make it clear as crystal that IQ is a major determinant of national wealth.  Poor countries tend to be dumber, much dumber in some cases.  So it is interesting that a massive and statistically very strong article by Anatoly Karlin has just come out that asks why the USA is such an outlier. American exceptionalism really does exist in the wealth statistics.  According to their national average IQs, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan should be richer than the USA -- but they are in fact significantly poorer.  That's a puzzle.

The easy answer to the puzzle is to say that special factors are at work in each case but that is a bit of a cop-out -- though it may be true.  Karlin considers a wide range of factors that might help America and it is clear that some of them are indeed involved.  Relative size of market, more Jews in the USA etc.

Something that deepens the puzzle is that Northeast Asia is also less socialist.  Socialism, depending on its extent, clearly has a dampening effect on wealth creation.  Britain's millions of NEETs sponging off welfare are an example of how socialism can take a significant slice of the population out of the workforce.  Now that the Tory government has done a modest crackdown on "dole bludging", there has been a big increase in the size of the active workforce.  So semi-socialist USA should be poorer than the NE Asians, not richer.

And natural resources are not the answer.  Karlin has some statistics on that but there are plenty of examples of resource-poor countries doing well.

I think inherited traditions and RACE are major factors, though not perhaps in the way that one might think. As it is less incendiary, I will mention traditions first.

Yankees tend to be, to be blunt about it, self-righteous, know-it-all bastards. And they are still a substantial fraction of the US population -- and are certainly an influential fraction of the US population.  Their ancestors left Europe and Britain in rickety wooden boats absolutely convinced that they would create in the new world a religious utopia -- as soon as they threw off the silly customs and conventions of the old world.  A third of them had to die of starvation before they decided that their communism was a crock and that the silly ways of the old world were not so silly after all.  And their descendants today are not much different, still convinced of their own righteousness and wisdom  -- which is why New England is the great redoubt of the American Left.  Being a Republican in Massachusetts requires some fortitude.

And we see something similar in Australia.  The first white settlers there made a much longer journey in rickety wooden ships of the Royal Navy.  Most of them were convicts.  Two of them were my ancestors. And they HAD to become settlers.  Returning to England would get you hanged at Tyburn.  But convicts were not keen workers.  Their attitude to their jobs tended to be relaxed. And that still exists in Australia.  Australia is the laid-back country. Nobody really expects to get any job done right the first time.  Even if it takes three times to get something done that is fine, normal, even.  But such relaxed attitudes are inefficient economically.  Having three goes to get something done is wasteful.  It does however make Australia a cheerful, friendly place, which the world could surely do with much more of.  It takes Muslims to make Australians riot.

So what we see is the surprising influence of the founders of a society.  Traditions once set up are amazingly persistent.  So it is to American traditions that we should to look for at least a part-explanation of American exceptionalism.  And whatever else they were, the Pilgrim Fathers were exceptionally enterprising and brave. They took on a big challenge with scarcely a second thought.  They knew the risks and were prepared to face them.  And that is very characteristic of American business to this day.  American wealth is created by American business.  And as we recently saw, what is bad for General Motors is bad for America.  American entrepreneurs are a large part of America's success.

Now we get on to what I believe is another powerful factor:  RACE.  But I am NOT going to say  that Americans are particularly superior racially.  Not at all.  We can see that by considering the cases of Australia and New Zealand.  Both those countries are very similar to America racially  -- and in other ways too.  You don't even have to press "1" for English there.  Yet Australia and New Zealand are clustered with the NE Asian countries in terms of wealth per capita.  Despite the great similarities between the USA and the ANZAC countries, America is clearly richer.  So it is not the racial composition of the majority population that makes the difference.  It is the minority population that is the key.

OK.  Let me now say something that just about every American knows but which it is social poison to utter these days:  Blacks are a HUGE problem for the white population.  They run fast and sing well but those are just about the only good things you can say about them.  So American whites are in general pretty frantic to minimize their contact with blacks.  Living among them is just too frightening for most whites.

But how can whites minimize their contact with blacks in the present climate of political correctness?  There is really only one way: White flight.  You have to move to places where blacks don't want to go if you are to find safety for your family.  And, since their income is generally as low as their IQ, blacks are mostly poor. So it is in the more expensive suburbs and exurbs were you are safest from them. So being able to spend big money  is the only way to safeguard yourself and your family. So American whites have to struggle frantically to make as much money as possible.  And they do.  To an outsider it looks like money is their God. But in a capitalist economy the best way to make a lot of money is to deliver a lot in goods and services. And white Americans do.  Their spurred-on efforts produce America's wealth.

Japan and Korea, by contrast, are among the world's most racially homogeneous societies.  Unaccompanied women walk through the streets of Tokyo at night without fear -- somewhat different from NYC, one might say.  There is a story here about Japan that sometimes makes me sob.  I remember that it was once like that in the small Australian town where I grew up long ago.  Not all Japan's strengths are monetary.

So I think that the high money-motivation produced by America's racial tensions is the main driver behind America' unusual wealth.  I am glad I am not American. I give most of my modest income away. Radix malorum cupiditas est

UPDATE:  A reader has commented that there are many places in the USA where blacks are largely absent so there is no pressure to avoid them. I think however that overlooks the importance of the big cities -- e.g. NYC and L.A.  The big cities are a large part of America's economic dynamism and there ARE lots of blacks in most of them.  So the people there ARE driven towards affording a refuge. 

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Forgotten Civil War atrocities bred more carnage

George Orwell wrote in 1945 that “the nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” The same moral myopia has carried over to most Americans’ understanding of the Civil War. While popular historians have recently canonized the war as a practically holy crusade to free the slaves, in reality civilians were intentionally targeted and brutalized in the final year of the war.

The most dramatic forgotten atrocity in the Civil War occurred 150 years ago when Union Gen. Philip Sheridan unleashed a hundred-mile swath of flames in the Shenandoah Valley that left vast numbers of women and children tottering towards starvation. Unfortunately, the burning of the Shenandoah Valley has been largely forgotten, foreshadowing how subsequent brutal military operations would also vanish into the Memory Hole.

In August 1864, supreme Union commander Ulysses S. Grant ordered Sheridan to “do all the damage to railroads and crops you can…. If the war is to last another year, we want the Shenandoah Valley to remain a barren waste.” Grant said that Sheridan’s troops should “eat out Virginia clear and clean as far as they go, so that crows flying over it for the balance of the season will have to carry their provender with them.” Sheridan set to the task with vehemence, declaring that “the people must be left nothing but their eyes to weep with over the war” and promised that when he was finished, the valley “from Winchester to Staunton will have but little in it for man or beast.”

Because people lived in a state that had seceded from the Union, Sheridan acted as if they had automatically forfeited their property, if not their lives. Along an almost 100-mile stretch the sky was blackened with smoke as his troops burned crops, barns, mills and homes.

War against civilians

Some Union soldiers were aghast at their marching orders. A Pennsylvania cavalryman lamented at the end of the fiery spree, “We burnt some sixty houses and all most of the barns, hay, grain and corn in the shocks for fifty miles [south of] Strasburg…. It was a hard-looking sight to see the women and children turned out of doors at this season of the year.” An Ohio major wrote in his diary that the burning “does not seem real soldierly work. We ought to enlist a force of scoundrels for such work.” A newspaper correspondent embedded with Sheridan’s army reported, “Hundreds of nearly starving people are going North … not half the inhabitants of the valley can subsist on it in its present condition.”

After one of Sheridan’s favorite aides was shot by Confederate soldiers, Sheridan ordered his troops to burn all houses within a five-mile radius. After many outlying houses had been torched, the small town at the center — Dayton — was spared after a federal officer disobeyed Sheridan’s order. The homes and barns of Mennonites — a peaceful sect that opposed slavery and secession — were especially hard hit by that crackdown, according to a 1909 history of Mennonites in America.

By the end of Sheridan’s campaign the former “breadbasket of the Confederacy” could no longer even feed the women and children remaining there. In his three-volume Civil War history, Shelby Foote noted that an English traveler in 1865 “found the Valley standing empty as a moor.” The population of Warren County, Virginia, where I grew up, fell by 11 percent during the 1860s thanks in part to Sheridan’s depredations.

Historian Walter Fleming, in his classic 1919 study, The Sequel to Appomattox, quoted one bedeviled local farmer: “From Harper’s Ferry to New Market, which is about eighty miles, the country was almost a desert…. The barns were all burned; chimneys standing without houses, and houses standing without roof, or door, or window.” John Heatwole, author of The Burning: Sheridan’s Devastation of the Shenandoah Valley (1998), concluded, “The civilian population of the Valley was affected to a greater extent than was the populace of any other region during the war, including those in the path of Sherman’s infamous march to the sea in Georgia.”

Unfortunately, given the chaos of the era at the end of the Civil War and its immediate aftermath, there are no reliable statistics on the number of women, children, and other civilians who perished thanks to “the burning.”

Abraham Lincoln congratulated Sheridan in a letter on Oct. 22, 1864: “With great pleasure I tender to you and your brave army the thanks of the nation and my own personal admiration and gratitude for the month’s operation in the Shenandoah Valley.” The year before, in his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln had justified the Civil War to preserve a “government by consent.” But, as Massachusetts abolitionist Lysander Spooner retorted, “The only idea … ever manifested as to what is a government of consent, is this — that it is one to which everybody must consent, or be shot.”

Some defenders of the Union military tactics insist that there was no intent to harshly punish civilians. But, after three years of a bloody stalemate, the Lincoln administration had adapted a total-war mindset to scourge the South into submission. As Sheridan was finishing his fiery campaign, Gen. William Sherman wrote to Grant that “until we can repopulate Georgia, it is useless to occupy it, but the utter destruction of its roads, houses, and people will cripple their military resources.” Sherman had previously telegrammed Washington that “there is a class of people — men, women, and children — who must be killed or banished before you can hope for peace and order.” Lincoln also congratulated Sherman for a campaign that sowed devastation far and wide.

The carnage inflicted by Sheridan, Sherman, and other northern commanders made the South’s postwar recovery far slower and multiplied the misery of both white and black survivors. Connecticut College professor Jim Downs’s recent book, Sick from Freedom, exposes how the chaotic situation during and after the war contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of freed slaves.

Afterward

Ironically, a war that stemmed in large part from the blunders and follies of politicians on both sides of the Potomac resulted in a vast expansion of the political class’s presumption of power. An 1875 American Law Review article noted, “The late war left the average American politician with a powerful desire to acquire property from other people without paying for it.”

The sea change was clear even before the war ended. Sherman had telegraphed the War Department in 1863, “The United States has the right, and … the … power, to penetrate to every part of the national domain. We will remove and destroy every obstacle — if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper.” Lincoln liked Sherman’s letter so much that he declared that it should be published.

After the Civil War, politicians and many historians consecrated the conflict and its grisly tactics were consigned to oblivion. The habit of sweeping abusive policies under the rug also permeated post–Civil War policy towards the Indians (Sheridan famously declared that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian”) and the suppression of Filipino insurgents after the Spanish-American War. Later historians sometimes downplayed U.S. military tactics in World War II that killed vast numbers of German and Japanese civilians.

The same pattern is repeating with the Vietnam War. The Pentagon is launching a major effort to commemorate its 50th anniversary — an effort that is being widely denounced as a whitewash. The New York Times noted that the Pentagon’s official website on the war “referred to the 1968 My Lai massacre, in which American troops killed hundreds of Vietnamese civilians, as the My Lai Incident.” That particular line was amended but the website will definitely not be including the verdict of David Hackworth, a retired colonel and the most decorated officer in the Army: “Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go…. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.”

The failure to recognize how wars routinely spawn pervasive brutality and collateral deaths lowers Americans’ resistance to new conflicts that promise to make the world safe for democracy, or rid the world of evil, or achieve other lofty-sounding goals. For instance, the Obama administration sold its bombing of Libya as a self-evident triumph of good over a vile despot; instead, chaos reigns. As the administration ramps up bombing in Syria and Iraq, both its rhetoric and its tactics echo prior U.S. misfires. The proclaimed intentions of U.S. bombing campaigns are far more important than their accuracy. And the presumption of collective guilt of everyone in a geographical area exonerates current military leaders the same way it exonerated Sheridan’s 1864 torching of Mennonite homes.

Since 1864, no prudent American should have expected this nation’s wars to have happy or uplifting endings. Unfortunately, as long as the spotlight is kept off atrocities, most citizens will continue to underestimate the odds that wars will spawn debacles and injustices that return to haunt us.

SOURCE

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Oh, Look, a Squirrel! Obama Denounces Conversion Therapy

Besieged by criticism for his disastrous deal with Iran, Barack Obama sought a shiny object to distract — even for just a moment — from more pressing concerns. Thus, senior adviser Valerie Jarrett issued a statement on conversion therapy for the gender disoriented.

“The overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that conversion therapy, especially when it is practiced on young people, is neither medically nor ethically appropriate and can cause substantial harm,” the statement said, also warning of “potentially devastating effects on the lives of transgender as well as gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer youth.”

Therefore, “As part of our dedication to protecting America’s youth, this administration supports efforts to ban the use of conversion therapy for minors.”

Recall that until a couple of years ago, Obama was (ostensibly) opposed to same-sex marriage. Now, however, he’s riding a political wave of growing support — or should we say tired and coerced concession — to the homosexual agenda. (Oh, and by the way, the White House will now feature an “all gender bathroom,” too.)

This isn’t to evaluate conversion therapy one way or the other, but why on earth would Obama need to offer his opinion other than as a political distraction?

SOURCE

**********************************

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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12 April, 2015

Is it a problem that some big companies pay little tax?

There has been a big debate about that in both Britain and the USA and it has recently heated up in Australia too.

The British have attempted to plug the hole by a bureaucratic monstrosity that will have a main effect of increasing accountancy costs.  But the most just system would undoubtedly be to abolish company tax altogether.  Companies disburse their revenues to suppliers, workers and shareholders.  And those people are already taxed on those receipts.  Company tax is double taxation.  Australia has a unique "franking" system that reduces the burden on shareholders but the simplest system would be to abolish the tax altogether.

Politicians rarely abolish or reduce taxes, however. You almost have to be another Ronald Reagan to do that.  John Howard did but even he replaced the "lost" tax by a new tax (the GST).  Given that reality, the challenge is to  find a better system of taxation than the present one. 

The simplest and most efficient change would be to impose a turnover tax as an alternative to a company tax.  A turnover tax of (say) 2% on all companies would yield similar revenue to what company taxes yield and would not be avoidable by profit shifting.  Multinationals would have no avenue of escape.  The turnover of a company (total revenue before disbursements earned in the country concerned) is readily ascertainable from existing company records  so would also require minimal bureaucracy to enforce.

It would also erode the temptation to divert profits into "fringe benefits" for company officers and employees.  Such diversion would have no effect on the tax bill. Even the temptation to retain profits in the hope of changed circumstance in the future would be minimized.  The revenue would be taxed whether it was retained or not. It would also require no international consensus or co-operation. 

Why it never seems to be canvassed rather mystifies me.  Perhaps the bureaucrats don't like it because it would shrink their empires.  An excerpt from the current debate in Australia below


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Taxation experts have warned against unilateral action on corporate tax avoidance, telling a Senate Economics Committee Australia should be proactive and show leadership in the OECD and G20 tax processes already underway.

The inquiry, initiated by Greens leader Christine Milne, is exploring tax avoidance and aggressive minimisation by corporations registered in Australia and multinational corporations operating in Australia.

Treasurer Joe Hockey has hinted that a diverted profits or “Google tax”, similar to that introduced in the UK is being considered by the Australian government.

However Richard Vann, Challis Professor of Law at Sydney University told the committee he was somewhat cynical about such a tax, suggesting it would collect very little revenue in the UK.

“They don’t even know how they’re going to try to calculate the revenue that they’re going to collect from Google,” Professor Vann said.

Professor Vann said the government was sending a “mixed message” to the multinationals that presented the biggest tax avoidance problem to Australia, by suggesting in the tax discussion paper that we needed to cut our corporate tax rate, and at the same time highlighting the problem of tax avoidance by multinationals.

“There are no simple single-country solutions, it does require coordinated action, he said.

“I’m not saying the diverted profits tax or something like it is a bad idea, but if everyone introduced one that would be a problem. They would all be different, they wouldn’t be harmonised and then we would have breakout.”

QUT taxation Professor Kerrie Sadiq agreed, and said Australia must collaborate internationally and not act “hastily or unilaterally”.

“Personally, I believe we should strive to fix the current system, particularly the transfer pricing regime.”

Transfer pricing sees multinationals make intra-company transactions, such as billing a subsidiary company, for the purposes of avoiding tax in higher taxing jurisdictions.

SOURCE

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Obama's minions lie with statistics

A major reason to study statistics is so that you can't be hornswoggled by them

Take last week’s report from the Commerce Department about personal income, personal spending, and price.

The Commerce Department reported that wages increased by 0.3% and that American spending was up 0.1% in the month of February. That wasn’t much of an increase in spending, but Wall Street interpreted that as a giant victory given the heavy snow that covered the Northeast in February and sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by 263 points, or 1.5%.

Wall Street was impressed, but they shouldn’t have been, because those numbers were massively massaged and very misleading.
The Commerce Department used some accounting magic to come up with that positive spending number.

The Commerce Department uses something called the Price Consumption Expenditure or PCE deflator. The PCE is a mathematical attempt to factor in price changes to come up with inflation-adjusted numbers. The PCE deflator converts “real” numbers into “adjusted” numbers, and that’s where the deception lies.

More often than not, the massaged numbers are changed to fit the needs of our lovely elected officials in Washington, DC. In short, the PCE numbers are a bunch of crap. But I digress.

Since October, the magic calculator of the PCE deflator had been flat or even negative, but the Commerce Department decided to change the PCE deflator to +0.2 in February. The excuse for the change was to adjust for the drop in gasoline prices.

That seemingly small adjustment to the PCE deflator changed the “real” numbers from negative to positive. Instead of personal spending being up +0.1% in February, the original unadjusted number was -0.1%. So much for being positive.

And the PCE isn’t an isolated issue, either. There are all sorts of accounting hanky-panky going on in Washington, DC. But perhaps the biggest impact on the Bureau of Labor & Statistics inflation model is the slippery concept of “Hedonic Quality Adjustment” that attempts to adjust for improvements in quality. Here is an example from the BLS’s own website.

Item A is an old TV model that’s been discontinued, and Item B is a new, fancy plasma TV. The new TV costs five times as much as the old TV, but because the quality of the new TV is so much better, the BLS adjusts the price to factor in the higher quality.

The result of that massaging is that the BLS claimed that the “adjusted” price of the new $1,250 TV is actually 7.1% cheaper than the $250 TV. Yup. 7.1% cheaper. Really!

The BLS applies this accounting magic to everything that’s part of the CPI, so all kinds of things we buy are getting “cheaper” even though they’re going up in price. These lower prices help keep increases to things such as Social Security payments and TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities) bonds low.

Love your country, like my father, but always keep a skeptical eye on everything that comes out of Washington, DC.

SOURCE

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Why Obama’s Jab at Walker’s Foreign Policy Knowledge Misses the Point

In response to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s criticism of his Iran policy, President Obama suggested that the presumed candidate for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination “bone up on foreign policy.”

In other words, anyone who disagrees with the president on Iran’s nuclear program, or any other national security issue, is just not knowledgeable enough to understand.

Of course, there is a very serious irony at play here. The president’s foreign policy is in shambles from Ukraine to the Middle East to the South China Sea. Yet it is his critics who just don’t get it.

A great deal is certain to be written on this and other ironies in the days to come. Indeed, it takes gall for a president who came to office with negligible experience in foreign affairs, and even less apparent interest, to criticize the background of another aspirant to the office.

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama’s principal claim to foreign policy experience lay in befriending the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Policy Committee, then-Sen. Dick Lugar.

Many liberals do not accept that intelligent, decent people can have honest differences of opinion.

It is also tempting to point out how little Obama appears to have grown into the job. After six years, he still displays a troubling misunderstanding of power and the leadership role the United States plays in the international system.

But the cheap shot at Walker also betrays a liberal conceit too rarely commented upon. Many liberals do not accept that intelligent, decent people can have honest differences of opinion. And they are aided and abetted by a media that—whatever its differences with the president on their own access—are always eager to be seen as “smart.” As a result, the president’s critics are often portrayed as either uniformed or politically motivated.

Obama used this dynamic to excellent effect in the 2012 campaign when he mocked another “inexperienced” state government chief executive, Mitt Romney, for his concern about Russia and the deteriorating state of America’s armed forces.

Yet Romney was right about both. But the gotcha moments were too good for the press to resist. Obama was smart; Romney not so much. The story was written. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., (a graduate of Harvard Law School, by the way) and the 46 other senators who signed the open letter to Iran’s leaders concerning Congress’ constitutional authorities fell afoul of the same dynamic.

Criticism of Obama’s Iran policy is not a matter of who’s smarter. It should be a question of who’s right. Questioning the foreign policy credentials of critics with a cute turn of phrase cannot substitute for substantive defense of an already highly controversial policy choice.

SOURCE

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Framework for Iran Deal Collapses

To those with common sense, and to those who have followed the continuing comedy that is our nuclear negotiation with Iran, this will come as no surprise. But it seems the Obama administration was caught flat-footed when it was learned that the Iranians expect all economic sanctions against them to be lifted once a deal is concluded in June.

Even more grating to Iranian leaders, the American summary of the deal states that “sanctions on Iran for terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missiles will remain in place under the deal.” For that, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali “Yes, Of Course, Death To America” Khamenei claimed the fact sheet was “wrong on most of the issues.” Of course, Khamenei also revealed he “was never optimistic about negotiating with America,” and this tends to reflect our opinion about Iran as well. Yet the Obama administration is choosing to believe that the sheer force of their negotiating skills can keep Iran one year away from going nuclear for the next decade.

Skeptical as well, for different reasons, are former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Shultz. They penned a stinging op-ed in The Wall Street Journal dismantling the deal. In it, they noted, “Absent the linkage between nuclear and political restraint, America’s traditional allies will conclude that the U.S. has traded temporary nuclear cooperation for acquiescence to Iranian hegemony.”

The pair also point out that the two sides have divergent interests elsewhere, even when ostensibly working together as they are against the Islamic State. “Even while combating common enemies, such as ISIS, Iran has declined to embrace common objectives,” write Kissinger and Shultz. Iran’s goal in Iraq, for example, is one of spreading its influence all the way to the Mediterranean Sea, putting Israel in peril. On the other hand, one of the strategic interests to our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan was to place American allies to either side of Iran, which we’ve known to be a bad actor ever since the Shah was deposed in 1979.

That same grand game is being played in Yemen, which had often been touted as a success by the Obama administration until it no longer was successful or even a viable state. Iranian-backed Houthi rebels are now the target of a Saudi-led coalition for whom we’re playing a minor support role.

Given the ramshackle framework for the current nuclear “deal,” it seems Iran is using its typical delaying tactics to edge closer to arming itself with nuclear weapons. The mullahs realize the sanctions won’t return once lifted, giving them a final victory in their quest to go from a rogue nation the world determined would never be nuclear to joining the North Korea club.

As for the rest of the region, Kissinger and Shultz warn the future’s not bright. “Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.”

Age-old differences in religious belief are one thing when fought with conventional armaments, but add nuclear weapons to the mix and the unthinkable becomes much more probable.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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10 April, 2015

Exercise doesn't help much

Medical researchers tend to get very excited even when they detect a very small effect of something.  Below is such a case.  When everything was controlled for in their analyses, they found a pathetic .66 hazard ratio ("the adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were 0.66").  Statisticians don't usually conclude that something real is going on until the ratio exceeds 2.0.  So the lifespan benefits of taking regular exercise are somewhere between tiny and negligible.  Pity that.

What we see below is another example of the failure of theory.  It seems obvious that we are designed for an active life so therefore we should live longer if we are active.  But we don't -- not to any appreciable extent, anyway


Effect of Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged and Older Australians

By Klaus Gebel et al.

ABSTRACT

Importance:  Few studies have examined how different proportions of moderate and vigorous physical activity affect health outcomes.

Objective:  To examine whether the proportion of total moderate to vigorous activity (MVPA) that is achieved through vigorous activity is associated with all-cause mortality independently of the total amount of MVPA.

Design, Setting, and Participants:  We performed a prospective cohort study with activity data linked to all-cause mortality data from February 1, 2006, through June 15, 2014, in 204?542 adults aged 45 through 75 years from the 45 and Up population-based cohort study from New South Wales, Australia (mean [SD] follow-up,?6.52 [1.23] years). Associations between different contributions of vigorous activity to total MVPA and mortality were examined using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusted for total MVPA and sociodemographic and health covariates.

Exposures:  Different proportions of total MVPA as vigorous activity. Physical activity was measured with the Active Australia Survey.

Main Outcomes and Measures:  All-cause mortality during the follow-up period.

Results: During 1?444?927 person-years of follow-up, 7435 deaths were registered. Compared with those who reported no MVPA (crude death rate,?8.34%), the adjusted hazard ratios for all-cause mortality were 0.66 (95% CI, 0.61-0.71; crude death rate, 4.81%), 0.53 (95% CI, 0.48-0.57; crude death rate, 3.17%), and 0.46 (95% CI, 0.43-0.49; crude death rate, 2.64%) for reporting 10 through 149, 150 through 299, and 300 min/wk or more of activity, respectively. Among those who reported any MVPA, the proportion of vigorous activity revealed an inverse dose-response relationship with all-cause mortality: compared with those reporting no vigorous activity (crude death rate,?3.84%) the fully adjusted hazard ratio was 0.91 (95% CI,?0.84-0.98; crude death rate,?2.35%) in those who reported some vigorous activity (but <30% of total activity) and 0.87 (95% CI, 0.81-0.93; crude death rate, 2.08%) among those who reported 30% or more of activity as vigorous. These associations were consistent in men and women, across categories of body mass index and volume of MVPA, and in those with and without existing cardiovascular disease or diabetes mellitus.

Conclusions and Relevance:  Among people reporting any activity, there was an inverse dose-response relationship between proportion of vigorous activity and mortality. Our findings suggest that vigorous activities should be endorsed in clinical and public health activity guidelines to maximize the population benefits of physical activity.

JAMA Intern Med.

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Profit Margins, Public Perception and Progressive Causes

The stigma plaguing today’s Republican Party on matters of economic policy is the result of a craftily orchestrated attack on capitalism. By associating the entrepreneurial free market with “corporate greed,” the Left frames conservatives as being against middle class America.

It’s a strategy that has a long record of success. Recall that in 2009, Democrats approved another massive entitlement program – ObamaCare – in part by rallying behind a false narrative: that millions of Americans were uninsured because “selfish” insurers were swimming in massive profits. In truth, insurers were operating on a 2% profit margin.

Democrats knew their PR stunt was a lie, but they successfully swayed public perception at a pivotal moment. Indeed, every progressive cause has traces of gross distortion, and, similar to how leftists overhauled the health care industry, they’re fabricating the war on corporate America.

The American Enterprise Institute’s Mark J. Perry writes, “When a random sample of American adults were asked the question ‘Just a rough guess, what percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average company makes after taxes?’ for the Reason-Rupe poll in May 2013, the average response was 36%!”

The reality? Memo to Occupy Wall Street: “Not surprisingly they are off by a huge margin,” Perry notes. “According to [a] Yahoo!Finance database for 212 different industries, the average profit margin for the most recent quarter was 7.5% and the median profit margin was 6.5%.” If this teaches us anything, it’s that Republicans must dismantle the Left’s big lies. The propaganda machine is not conquered by twiddling thumbs.

SOURCE

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Maya Angelou's quote on USPS stamps is "fake but accurate"?

A stamp commemorating author and poet Maya Angelou was unveiled Tuesday morning in Washington D.C. And while the ceremony featured addresses by Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey, a matter not addressed at the ceremony was the apparent misattribution of the quote on the "Forever" stamp.

Next to a photo of Angelou reads the text, "A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song."

Those words may recall the title of Angelou's 1969 autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, but they were actually written by Joan Walsh Anglund, 89, in the 1967 book A Cup of Sun, according to the Washington Post.

Living in New York around 2005, I once saw a flyer advertising Maya Angelou's appearance before NYU students that had exactly the same "bird" quote. The flyer was posted at the entrance to one of the left-wing churches around NYU that lends its space to events held by communists and other progressives, including a party to celebrate the release of Lynn Stewart from prison, which I attended undercover with a video camera.

At the time I thought it was a fairly good line coming from a poet, but coming from a prog it leaps into a completely different paradigm. I rephrased it in my head to say, "A prog doesn't talk because he/she/it has an answer, a prog talks because he/she/it has a Party-approved narrative."

It so happened that I was on my way to give a speech to the NYU Young Republicans Club about the People's Cube, so I started my speech by talking about Maya Angelou's flyer I had passed a few doors down the block. I gave them my translation from the prog language - how it would have sounded if Maya Angelou were high on truth serum. This is why I still remember this line almost ten years later.

Most importantly, Maya Angelou was still alive and well then; she must have seen and approved of the flyer with the "fake" quote, or her agent did. That means the line had been attributed to her for many years, she knew about it, and did nothing to stop it.

Putting the quote on a stamp wasn't simply an error on the part of the Postal Service. It has become a logical extension of her disingenuous legacy as a mediocre poet who was promoted and celebrated due to her politics and who is mostly remembered by one line that wasn't even hers.

The symbolic falseness of the stamp makes an appropriate monument to such a legacy - one of the many insignificant and unsightly monuments to progdom in arts that are littering America's artistic graveyard, with the exception that Michelle Obama's and Oprah Winfrey's participation in its unveiling take this symbolism to a whole new level.

SOURCE

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VA Reform: Another Obama 'Success Story'

Eight months ago, President Obama put on a grand show for the troops. Surrounded by new Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald, assorted politicians, military leaders and a bevy of TV cameras, the commander in chief signed the "Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act." He's good at inking things.

Obama condemned the "inexcusable conduct" at VA hospitals across the country (and under his own watch).

He vowed to "do right by all who served under our proud flag." He promised America's veterans new "reform," "resources," "timely care" and an end to the disgraceful disability backlog.

The bill he signed, in case you'd forgotten, included $10 billion in emergency funding to pay for veterans to go outside the chronically dysfunctional VA system if they are facing long wait times or live 40 miles or more from a VA facility, plus another $6.3 billion to set up 27 new clinics and hire doctors, nurses and other medical staff.

So, how's it all working out? About as well as every other "success story" Obama has signed his name to: abysmally, ineffectually and incompetently.

Take Obama's hyped plan to expand health care access to those who live far from a VA facility. Obtuse federal bureaucrats interpreted "40 miles" in the narrowest way possible, applied an "as the crow flies" distance rule inconsistently, and excluded untold numbers of vets. It took more than a year — and concerted pressure from veterans groups and GOP lawmakers — for the administration to "clarify" its confused eligibility standards just two weeks ago.

What about "accountability"? Obama bragged last August that "we've already taken the first steps to change the way the VA does business. We've held people accountable for misconduct. ... We should have zero tolerance for that." Looks like the VA bosses in Shreveport, La., didn't get the memo. As Tori Richards of Watchdog.org reported last month, a mental health services worker who exposed use of a secret appointment waiting list there was ignored for a year.

Instead of accountability for the wrongdoers, the VA employee who blew the whistle, Army vet Shea Wilkes, became the subject of a criminal investigation.

And how's that new facility construction campaign going? The VA's atrocious complex has been a problem for decades under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Nothing's changed under the era of hope and change.

Here in Colorado, the new Aurora VA hospital has become another in a long line of government spending cesspools. The $600-million 184-bed facility is now estimated to cost at least $1.7 billion after a reckless parade of design changes, cost overruns and mismanagement — and may not be ready until 2017. "Accountability"? Pfffft. The head of the VA's Office of Acquisition, Logistics and Construction responsible for the waste was allowed to resign with a full federal pension and retention of nearly $60,000 in bonuses earned during the fiasco.

In Colorado Springs, a sparkling new "cutting edge" VA outpatient clinic opened last year on the promise of reducing wait times. But according to the Colorado Springs Gazette, "11.5 percent of veteran appointments for care in Colorado Springs are delayed by 30 days or more," which is "up from 7 percent" before the $10-million facility opened.

What's next? You know the drill: more congressional hearings, more grandstanding, another "reform" campaign, more posturing in front of cameras, and more screwed-over vets.

Throwing more money and platitudes at the VA to cover up its deadly scandals is a bipartisan Beltway recipe for failure. Recently retired Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., one of the few to object to last year's kabuki "VA reform," was right. "The culture is one of looking good, protecting those in the VA and not protecting our veterans," he said at the time. "You have to have a bill that fixes that. I don't believe this is going to do it."

Mission not accomplished.

SOURCE

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Obama Admits Iran Won't Be Far From Nukes

Barack Obama may like to insist that his deal ensures Iran will never obtain nuclear weapons, but even he admitted the opposite in an interview with NPR. “Most of [Iran’s] enriched uranium is supposed to be set off to the side and diluted; it may, however, remain inside Iran,” Obama said. “Eventually, the deal expires. Perhaps the uranium is still there, which is why … where the regime changes is a significant question.”

He then said, “They’re not going to have been able to hoard a bunch of uranium that somehow they then convert to weapons-grade uranium. What is a more relevant fear would be that in year 13, 14, 15, they have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that point the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero.”

Not to worry, though. He said, “[C]urrently, the breakout times are only about two to three months by our intelligence estimates. So essentially, we’re purchasing for 13, 14, 15 years assurances that the breakout is at least a year … that – that if they decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we’d have over a year to respond. And we have those assurances for at least well over a decade.” Everything is awesome. But he just put his seal of approval on a future Iranian nuke.

SOURCE

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Economic freedom, not socialism makes you rich

IQ is important too. The very successful East Asian countries all have average  IQs about half a standard deviation above the European norm

Today’s Third World poverty is mostly self-inflicted – indigenously created. The growth-promoting characteristics of the non-poor countries that are all but absent in poor countries are protected private property rights, personal liberty, enforcement of contracts, rule of law and a market-oriented economic system.

A country need not be rich to create these wealth-enhancing institutions. That’s much of the story of the U.S. In 1776, we were a poor nation, but we established the institutional structure to become rich. That institutional structure attracted not only foreign investment but talented, hardworking immigrants, as well. Contrast that with today’s poor countries, whose policies and institutional structure do just the opposite – repel investment and export their most talented and ambitious people to freer and richer countries.

People with limited understanding make the mistake of making a link between economic freedom and democracy. There is no such necessary link. India, for example, politically is a democracy. Economically, it is mostly unfree and poor, ranking 128th on the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom. There are countries much higher on the economic freedom index that do not have much of a history of democracy, such as Chile, now ranking seventh, and Taiwan, 14th, yet these countries are far wealthier than some of their more democratic counterparts. Why? It’s because their economic systems are free or mostly free, something that is not guaranteed by a democratic political system.

The bottom line for why some countries are rich while others are poor is best-explained by the amount of economic freedom.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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9 April, 2015

Britain: More anti-democratic Leftist elitism

Tony Blair's dramatic intervention in the election backfired last night after he said the British people could not be trusted to decide if they want to stay in the EU.

The former Prime Minister was widely condemned after saying that membership of the European Union was 'too important' to be put to a public vote.

In a carefully choreographed speech, Mr Blair praised Ed Miliband for showing 'real leadership' in refusing to offer voters a say on the issue.

But Mr Blair did not deign to appear on a stage alongside the Labour leader – about whom he is said to harbour grave doubts – and refused to endorse any of his other policies. His ringing endorsement of the EU also left him at odds with Mr Miliband, who recognises it is hated by millions of voters.

And in highlighting Labour's refusal to offer a referendum, he presented an open goal for the Tories, who are the only party to commit to a vote.

Speaking in his former Sedgefield constituency, Mr Blair said of the EU debate: 'The Prime Minister will be spending more energy, will have more sleepless nights about it, be more focused on it than literally any other issue.  'He knows the vastness of the decision. And, following the Scottish referendum, he knows the perilous fragility of public support for the sensible choice. This issue, touching as it does the country's future, is too important to be traded like this.'

In a furious response, David Cameron said Mr Blair was 'the last person' who should be lecturing the country on Europe. He said Mr Blair had presided over a massive transfer of power from Westminster to Brussels and broken his own promise to hold a referendum.

Mr Cameron told the Mail: 'It is deeply condescending to say that the British people can't be trusted to make a choice. I believe they can be and they should be.

'Tony Blair has just highlighted that there is a choice: there will be no renegotiation, no referendum with Ed Miliband. I have said I want to stay in a reformed EU – but we need to get that referendum and the choice will be for the British people, not for me.'

He pointed out that, as Prime Minister, Mr Blair passed a series of treaties that ceded power to Brussels. Mr Cameron said: 'This is the man who passed the Amsterdam Treaty, the Nice Treaty, who negotiated the EU constitution, promised a referendum and didn't deliver a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. He is the last person who should be giving this lecture.

'Frankly the British people need a choice. They haven't had one since 1975, and all these treaties have been passed since – including many when Tony Blair was prime minister.

SOURCE

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The Great Worker Shortage

The great conundrum of the U.S. economy today is that we have record numbers of working age people out of the labor force at the same time we have businesses desperately trying to find workers. As an example, the American Transportation Research Institute estimates there are 30,000-35,000 trucker jobs that could be filled tomorrow if workers would take these jobs – a shortage that could rise to 240,000 by 2022.

While the jobs market overall remains weak, demand is high for in certain sectors. For skilled and reliable mechanics, welders, engineers, electricians, plumbers, computer technicians, and nurses, jobs are plentiful; one can often find a job in 48 hours. As Bob Funk, the president of Express Services, which matches almost one-half million temporary workers with employers each year, “If you have a useful skill, we can find you a job. But too many are graduating from high school and college without any skills at all.”

The lesson, to play off of the famous Waylon Jennings song: Momma don’t let your babies grow up to be philosophy majors.

Three years ago the chronic disease of the economy was a shortage of jobs. This shortage persists in many sectors. But two other shortages are now being felt – the shortage of trained employees and of low-skilled employees willing to work. Patrick Doyle, the president of Domino’s Pizza, says that the franchises around the country are having a hard time filling delivery and clerical positions. “It’s a very tight labor market out there now.”

This shortage has an upside for workers because it allows them to bid up wages. When Wal-Mart announced last month that wages for many starter workers would rise to $9 an hour, well above the federal legal minimum, they weren’t being humanitarians. They were responding to a tightening labor market.

The idea that blue collar jobs aren’t a pathway to the middle class and higher is antiquated and wrong. Factory work today is often highly sophisticated and knowledge-based with workers using intricate scientific equipment. After several years honing their skills, welders, mechanics, carpenters, and technicians can, earn upwards of $50,000 a year – which in most years still places a household with two such income earners in the top 25 percent for income. It’s true these aren’t glitzy or cushy jobs, but they do pay a good salary.

So why aren’t workers filling these available jobs – or getting the skills necessary to fill them. I would posit five impediments to putting more Americans back to work:

First, government discourages work. Welfare consists of dozens of different and overlapping federal and state income support programs. A recent Census Bureau study found more than 100 million Americans collecting a government check or benefit each month. The spike in families on food stamps, SSI, disability, public housing, and early Social Security remains very high even 5 years into this recovery. This should come as no surprise given the combination of the scaled back welfare work requirements and the steep phase-out of benefits as a recipient begins earning income.

Economist Peter Ferrara argues in his new book “Power to the People,” that if “ we simply required work for all able-bodied welfare recipients, the number on public assistance would fall dramatically. This is what happened after the work for welfare requirements in 1996.”

Second, our public school systems often fail to teach kids basic skills. Whatever happened to shop classes? We have schools that now concentrate more on ethnic studies and tolerance training than teaching kids how to use a lathe or a graphic design tool. Charter schools can help remedy this. Universities are even more negligent. Kids commonly graduate from four year colleges with $100,000 of debt and little vocational training. A liberal arts education is valuable, but it should come paired with some practical skills.

Third, negative attitudes toward “blue collar” work. I’ve talked to parents who say they are disappointed if their kids want to become a craftsman – instead of going to college. This attitude discourages kids from learning how to make things, which contributes to sector-specific worker shortages. Meanwhile, too many people who want to go into the talking professions: lawyers, media, clergy, professors, and so on. Those who can’t “do,” become attorneys and sociology professors.

Fourth, a cultural bias against young adults working. The labor force participation rate is falling fastest among workers under 30 (see chart). Anytime a state tries to change laws to make it easier for teenagers to earn money, the left throws a tantrum about repealing child labor laws. The move to raise minimum wages in states and at the federal level could hardly be more destructive to young people. My own research finds that the higher the minimum wage in a state, the lower the labor force participation rate among teenagers.

Anecdotally, I’ve always been struck by how many successful people I have met who grew up on farms and started working – milking cows, building fences, cleaning out the barn – at the age of 10 or 11. They learn a work ethic at a young age and this pays big dividends in the future. Many studies document this to be true.

Fifth, higher education has become an excuse to delay entry into the workforce. I always cringe when I talk to 22 year olds who will graduate from college and who tell me their next step is to go to graduate school. Maybe by the time they are 26 or 27 they will start working. Here’s an idea: Colleges could encourage kids to have one or two years of work experience before they enroll.

Here’s an even better idea: Abolish federal student loans and replace the free government dollars with privately sponsored college work programs. For instance, schools like College of the Ozarks require kids to work 15 hours a week to pay their tuition. It’s hardly a violation of human rights if a 21 year old works to fund for their own education – and they will probably get more out of their classes if they do work. Anything easily attained is lightly valued. This would drive down tuition costs too, because students would start demanding more financial accountability and less waste. After all, federal subsidies have increased college costs.

These may seem like old-fashioned and even outmoded ideas. But the decline in work among the young bodes ill for the future. Many European nations have removed the young from the workforce and the repercussion appears to be lower lifetime earnings. A renewed focus on working would also help erode the entitlement mentality ingrained in so many millennials. Instead of more benefits and handouts, this generation needs to get a job.

SOURCE

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One small step against tyranny

The tide is turning against asset forfeiture and Loretta Lynch

Do you think the government should be able to seize your property if you have not been convicted of any crime? Most people are not aware that one of the most odious activities of federal, state and local tax and police authorities is that of “asset forfeiture.” Asset forfeiture laws allow law enforcement to seize and keep property of individuals and businesses without a criminal conviction.

The practice has been rife with abuse by law enforcement officials, often using seized property of innocent individuals for their own use. As a result of the outcries about the abuse, there was a unanimous vote by both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate in New Mexico to end the practice of civil asset forfeiture in the state. The bill now awaits the signature of Gov. Susana Martinez. An unlikely coalition supported the measure to repeal asset forfeiture, ranging from the left-leaning American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico to the libertarian-leaning Institute for Justice. Former federal prosecutor and director of the Justice Department’s Asset Forfeiture Office, Brad Cates, now a resident of New Mexico, is one of the leading advocates of repeal of asset forfeiture laws at both the state and federal levels. Mr. Cates and the first director of the federal Asset Forfeiture Office, Judge John Yoder, in an article in The Washington Post last September, wrote: “We find it particularly painful to watch as the heavy hand of government goes amok. The program began with good intentions but now, having failed in both purpose and execution, it should be abolished.”

Many states and the federal government still allow asset forfeiture, even though they appear to fly in the face of the Fifth and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, which clearly protect any person from being deprived of property without due process. Where are the judges who are supposed to protect us from unconstitutional abuses?

It is particularly troubling that President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, Loretta Lynch, the current U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, strongly defended civil asset forfeiture during her Senate confirmation hearings, despite major abuses by her own office. One case is described by my Cato colleague and attorney, Alan Bates: “In May of 2012 the Hirsch brothers, joint owners of Bi-County Distributors of Long Island, had their entire bank account [of $446,651.11] drained by the Internal Revenue Service working in conjunction with Lynch’s office without so much as a criminal charge.” Ms. Lynch’s office simply sat on the money for more than two years. The Institute for Justice, acting on behalf of the Hirsch brothers, was finally able to get the money returned earlier this year, after Ms. Lynch’s office admitted there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

In January, Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Republican Rep. Tim Walberg of Michigan reintroduced the “Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act, which would revise the federal civil forfeiture law to give property owners more protection and reduce the profit incentive that encourages law enforcement to seize assets.” The provisions in this proposed legislation would go some distance toward stopping many of the worst abuses even though, in my judgment, it does not go nearly far enough in ending asset forfeitures. Nonetheless, support for this legislation should be a no-brainer for members of Congress from both parties.

Loretta Lynch’s office has, by her own admission, confiscated over $100 million from people who have not been charged or convicted of anything. Mr. Paul has announced that he will oppose her confirmation because he doesn’t “think she’s shown any compassion, or understanding of the law, but particularly compassion for people who are victims of civil forfeiture. People who are victims of civil forfeiture are often poor, African-American or Hispanic, and people who can’t afford an attorney to try to get the money that’s taken by the government.”

It is rather basic, “Thou shall not steal.” Most people understand that commandment, and it doesn’t matter if it is the government doing the stealing or just a common miscreant. It is very troubling that Ms. Lynch and many others in law enforcement, particularly at the IRS, seem to have so little understanding of the Constitution and the basis of a civil society. To confirm Ms. Lynch for attorney general, without passing serious reform of the asset forfeiture law as Mr. Paul has proposed, will endanger the property and even the liberty of many Americans.

Former federal prosecutor Brad Cates and Judge John Yoder said it best: “Civil asset forfeiture and money-laundering laws are gross perversions of the status of government amid a free citizenry. The individual is the font of sovereignty in our constitutional republic, and it is unacceptable that a citizen should have to ‘prove’ anything to the government. If the government has probable cause of a violation of law, then let a warrant be issued. And if the government has proof beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt, let that guilt be proclaimed by 12 peers.”

SOURCE

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Obama Won't Say Murdered Kenyans Were Christians

Last week, Islamic militants murdered 150 Christians in Kenya, explicitly because of their faith. According to the Associated Press, “The attackers separated Christian students from Muslim ones and massacred the Christians.” But Barack Obama couldn’t be bothered to mention faith at all. The White House statement denounced “terrorist atrocities” against “men and women” and “students,” but there was nary a peep about “Muslims” or “Christians.” Likewise, Obama neglected to mention the 21 Egyptian Christians beheaded by ISIL earlier this year were anything but “citizens.” It would seem the only time Obama doesn’t mind mentioning Christians is when he’s lecturing them about the Crusades.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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8 April, 2015

Etiquette Versus Annihilation

By Thomas Sowell

Recent statements from United Nations officials, that Iran is already blocking their existing efforts to keep track of what is going on in their nuclear program, should tell anyone who does not already know it that any agreement with Iran will be utterly worthless in practice. It doesn’t matter what the terms of the agreement are, if Iran can cheat.

It is amazing – indeed, staggering – that so few Americans are talking about what it would mean for the world’s biggest sponsor of international terrorism, Iran, to have nuclear bombs, and to be developing intercontinental missiles that can deliver them far beyond the Middle East.

Back during the years of the nuclear stand-off between the Soviet Union and the United States, contemplating what a nuclear war would be like was called “thinking the unthinkable.” But surely the Nazi Holocaust during World War II should tell us that what is beyond the imagination of decent people is by no means impossible for people who, as Churchill warned of Hitler before the war, had “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.”

Have we not already seen that kind of hatred in the Middle East? Have we not seen it in suicide bombings there and in suicide attacks against America by people willing to sacrifice their own lives by flying planes into massive buildings, to vent their unbridled hatred?

The Soviet Union was never suicidal, so the fact that we could annihilate their cities if they attacked ours was a sufficient deterrent to a nuclear attack from them. But will that deter fanatics with an apocalyptic vision? Should we bet the lives of millions of Americans on our ability to deter nuclear war with Iran?

It is now nearly 70 years since nuclear bombs were used in war. Long periods of safety in that respect have apparently led many to feel as if the danger is not real. But the dangers are even greater now and the nuclear bombs more devastating.

Clearing the way for Iran to get nuclear bombs may – probably will – be the most catastrophic decision in human history. And it can certainly change human history, irrevocably, for the worse.

Against that grim background, it is almost incomprehensible how some people can be preoccupied with the question whether having Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu address Congress, warning against the proposed agreement, without the prior approval of President Obama, was a breach of protocol.

Against the background of the Obama administration’s negotiating what can turn out to be the most catastrophic international agreement in the nation’s history, to complain about protocol is to put questions of etiquette above questions of annihilation.

Why is Barack Obama so anxious to have an international agreement that will have no legal standing under the Constitution just two years from now, since it will be just a presidential agreement, rather than a treaty requiring the “advice and consent” of the Senate?

There are at least two reasons. One reason is that such an agreement will serve as a fig leaf to cover his failure to do anything that has any serious chance of stopping Iran from going nuclear. Such an agreement will protect Obama politically, despite however much it exposes the American people to unprecedented dangers.

The other reason is that, by going to the United Nations for its blessing on his agreement with Iran, he can get a bigger fig leaf to cover his complicity in the nuclear arming of America’s most dangerous enemy. In Obama’s vision, as a citizen of the world, there may be no reason why Iran should not have nuclear weapons when other nations have them.

Politically, President Obama could not just come right out and say such a thing. But he can get the same end result by pretending to have ended the dangers by reaching an agreement with Iran. There have long been people in the Western democracies who hail every international agreement that claims to reduce the dangers of war.

The road to World War II was strewn with arms control agreements on paper that aggressor nations ignored in practice. But those agreements lulled the democracies into a false sense of security that led them to cut back on military spending while their enemies were building up the military forces to attack them.

SOURCE

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The Green-Card Racket for Beltway Cronies

By Michelle Malkin

Can we stop putting America up for sale to the most politically connected bidders yet? Where is our self-respect?

Since 2001, I've warned about the systemic and bipartisan corruption of America's EB-5 immigrant investor visa program. The latest report from the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general — which outlines the meddling and pandering of No. 2 DHS official Alejandro Mayorkas, Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, Democratic bagman Terry McAuliffe, Hillary Clinton's brother Tony Rodham, former Pennsylvania. Gov. Ed Rendell and former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, to name a few — provides yet more sordid evidence that the green cards-for-sale scheme should be completely scrapped.

Created under an obscure section of the expansionist 1990 Immigration Act, EB-5 promised bountiful economic development for the U.S. in exchange for granting permanent residency (and eventual American citizenship) to foreign investors. A few years later, Congress conjured up the idea of EB-5 "regional centers" — government-sanctioned business groups and corporate entities acting as middlemen to administer the immigrant investments and facilitate the visa peddling.

Beltway cronyism was embedded in EB-5's DNA from the get-go. The original Democratic House sponsor and his spokesman went on to establish for-profit companies that marketed the program and provided consulting services. Former federal immigration officials from the George H.W. Bush administration formed lucrative limited partnerships to cash in on their access and EB-5 expertise. An entire side industry of economic book-cookers arose to supply analyses of the "job creation" benefits of EB-5 projects and to gerrymander Census employment data to fit the program's definition of "targeted employment areas" in order to qualify for lower investment thresholds (as was done in New York City's Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park EB-5 deal).

Think Solyndra and federal stimulus math on steroids.

Since the program's inception, rank-and-file adjudicators have tried to enforce the investment standards. But senior managers leaned on them to reverse EB-5 rejections when wealthy donors, law firm pals and political hacks complained.

Fast-forward to 2015. The blood pressure-spiking DHS IG report released last week confirmed what whistleblowers have been telling Capitol Hill for years.

Behind the scenes, the IG found, Dirty Harry Reid pressured Deputy DHS Secretary Mayorkas to overturn his agency's rejection of expedited EB-5 visa applications for Chinese investors in a Las Vegas casino hotel, which just happened to be represented by Reid's lawyer son Rory. Adjudicators balked at the preferential treatment. Mayorkas steamrolled the dissenters, who reported on shouting matches over the cases. Reid's staffers received special briefings from Mayorkas to update them on the project's progress.

One underling called it "a whole new phase of yuck."

Meanwhile, in the words of one DHS official at the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau, Mayorkas "absolutely gave special treatment" to electric car racket GreenTech, which zealously sought EB-5 visas for another group of deep-pocketed Chinese investors. McAuliffe helmed the company after it was spun off from a Chinese venture. He plugged in Rodham as president of Gulf Coast Funds Management, which won designation as an EB-5 regional center certified to invest foreign capital in federally approved commercial ventures in Louisiana and Mississippi, including GreenTech. Louisiana GOP Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Mississippi GOP Gov. Haley Barbour both signed letters urging DHS to approve Gulf Coast as a regional center.

After adjudicators dismissed the company's job claims as "ridiculous," "flawed" and "not approvable," McAuliffe personally leaned on then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, "complaining about the denial of the Gulf Coast amendment and requesting her assistance to get the amendment approved and to expedite more than 200 investor petitions."

In violation of recordkeeping and disclosure rules, Mayorkas met with McAuliffe in February 2011 after USCIS denied GreenTech's requests. Mayorkas mysteriously took no notes and could not recall just exactly how many phone calls he took from McAuliffe and what exactly they discussed, though he did remember the "caustic" Democrat yelling "expletives at high volume." Mayorkas met personally with senior staff to urge the agency to reverse its denials and give McAuliffe and company what they wanted and even offered to write the reversals himself.

On a third front, Mayorkas intervened on behalf of EB-5 petitioners seeking green cards by investing in Hollywood studios such as Sony Pictures and Time Warner. He had received pressure from the L.A. mayor's office, where an aide helpfully mentioned she knew a mutual acquaintance of his from his old law firm, O'Melveny and Myers, and from Rendell, a paid consultant to the EB-5 regional center representing the foreign investors. Mayorkas reversed his staff's rejections of more than 200 suspect EB-5 applications and set up a special "deference review board" to bow to Hollywood.

Two decades ago, when the program's failures were first exposed, Rep. John W. Bryant, a Texas Democrat, protested on the House floor: "This provision is an unbelievable departure from our tradition of cherishing our most precious birthright as Americans."

How much more evidence do you need that this foreign investor pay-for-play swindle makes an irremediable mockery of the American Dream? The only effective way to "reform" this abomination is to kill it.

SOURCE

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The Next Bubble

By John Stossel

When the last housing bubble burst, politicians blamed “greedy banks.” They said mortgage companies lent money recklessly, making loans to people with dubious credit, for down payments as low as 3 percent.

“It will work out,” said the optimistic bankers. Regulators didn’t disagree. Everyone said, “Home prices will keep going up.” And home prices did – until they didn’t.

The bubble popped in 2007. Lots of people were hurt, and politicians took more of your tax money to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac along with reckless banks. They also gave the Federal Housing Administration a $2 billion bailout.

Then the politicians said, “We’ll fix this so it doesn’t happen again.” Congress passed Dodd-Frank and a thousand new regulations. The complex rules slowed lending, all right. It’s one reason this post-recession recovery has been abnormally slow.

But – April Fools'! – the new rules didn’t solve the problem of reckless lending, and it’s happening again.

Because our government subsidizes home purchases, recklessness is invited. Somehow, Americans buy cars, clothing, computers, etc. without government guarantees, but politicians think housing is different.

Both parties support the subsidies.

The left wants government to help struggling families, and the right thinks home ownership sends a wholesome cultural message. Both parties have cozy connections to home-builders and lenders.

At the time of the housing crash, most high-risk loans were guaranteed by the government. Those banks wouldn’t have been as reckless if they had their own money on the line.

But they knew they could grant a mortgage to most anyone and the FHA would back it or government-sponsored companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would buy it. That fueled the frenzy of lending.

After the bubble popped, I assumed the political class would learn a lesson, but they haven’t. Today, even more American mortgages are guaranteed by government. More than 90 percent of new loans are backed by taxpayers. After the crash, Fannie and Freddie did raise their minimum down payment – to a measly 5 percent – but a few months ago, they lowered it again to 3 percent!

Are they crazy? A sensible congressman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), tried to get an answer from the administration’s new mortgage regulator, asking in a hearing, “All things being equal, is a 3 percent down riskier to the taxpayer than a 10 percent down loan?”

A pretty basic question – but one that director Mel Watt still dodged, responding, “Mr. Chairman, that is generally true. But when you pair the down payment with compensating factors … look at other considerations … you can ensure that a 3 percent loan is just as safe.”

What? That’s nonsense. This is what happens when pandering politicians get to dispense your money. Watt is among the worst. When he was a congressman, he pushed for mortgage subsidies for welfare recipients who made down payments as low as $1,000.

Edward Pinto, who studies housing risk for the American Enterprise Institute, says policies like this put us on the way to another bubble: “The government is once again … saying, let’s loosen credit, give loans to people that potentially can’t afford them, and everything will be fine because house prices will go up.”

On my show, former FHA commissioner David Stevens, who did improve lending standards a bit after the crash (before Watt and his cronies weakened them), responded that this time the government has new regulations that will prevent things falling apart: “I think in the effort, post-recession, to make sure we never go down this path again, we have created more rules than ever existed in the history of this country.”

But more rules aren’t a solution. Government’s regulators didn’t foresee the problems last time. Fannie and Freddie got a clean bill of health right up until the collapse.

The solution is less government involvement. Canada doesn’t have a Fannie, Freddie or FHA. Canada didn’t have the trauma of a housing bubble. In Canada, lenders and homeowners risk their own money.

Does that mean Canadians cannot afford homes? No! Without all that government help, Canada’s homeownership rate is higher than ours.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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7 April, 2015

Political Correctness Is Destroying the American Dream

People are defined by their deeds, not their words. And yet, our words both reflect and reinforce cultural norms. In other words, how we communicate has the power to change human behavior on an enormous scale.

Consider the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. They are just words. But those words played an enormous role in the creation of a great nation. They defined the behavior of a culture that changed the world.

Words incite action. When words and the ideals they represent gain traction, they can change the trajectory of an entire society for better or worse. There is no more visible sign of where we’re heading than the growing pervasiveness of political correctness.

On the surface, the idea of filtering our communication so as not to exclude or offend anyone seems fairly benign, almost Pollyannaish. Maybe that explains how it has so insidiously crept into every aspect of our culture, but its effect has been anything but benign.

Political correctness has had a powerful influence on how we interact with each other, teach our kids, and manage our companies. It’s an existential threat to the meritocracy and personal accountability at the heart of free market capitalism. It’s toxic to the performance and competitiveness of our people, our companies and our economy.

You see, human behavior is all about incentives. All things being equal, people will do what’s in their own best interest.

If people believe that rewards are based solely on their own merits – that the sky’s the limit and how far they go in life rests solely on their shoulders – that’s an incentive to be self-reliant and reach for the stars. And they will generally reach the highest levels of achievement their capabilities and circumstances permit.

There’s proof of that. Those are, in fact, the principles that built America. Everyone gets life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The rest is up to the individual. That simple mechanism is responsible for creating the entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders of the free world. That’s what created the American Dream.

But if you remove the incentive, all that changes.

If people believe it makes no difference how they perform – that everyone’s the same, competition is bad, everyone’s a winner, and exceptional qualities will not be rewarded or even recognized – they’re left with nothing to strive for. Stripped of the will to achieve, they’ll settle into a life of dependency and mediocrity.

Again, it’s all about incentives. All things being equal, people will do what they’re incentivized to do.

So we can all agree that political correctness levels the playing field, removes incentives to excel, and diminishes meritocracy and personal accountability. Well, that has a ripple effect on team performance and effectiveness. We have a term for the resultant state of organizational malaise and mediocrity. It’s called bureaucracy.

While the word conjures up images of mindless drones shuffling around like real-life zombies under the sickly hued fluorescent lights of the local planning department, state Department of Motor Vehicles, or U.S. Postal Service, bureaucracy can creep into any business or company.

It’s simple, really. Just add political correctness to any organization and watch the bureaucratic behavior take over. Think about it.

Bureaucrats do only what they’re programmed to do because there’s no incentive to do more. And since there are no incentives to excel, they’ll do as little as they have to do to skate by. They follow rigid process because that’s how things are done. They’re the keepers of the status quo that stifles innovation and creativity.

You can trace all sorts of chronic business ills to bureaucratic behavior.

Besides reduced company performance and effectiveness, it leads to ever-increasing organizational bloat and complexity. Bureaucratic leaders are always looking for clever ways to increase their budget, grow their organization, and expand their power base.

It leads to dysfunctional behavior that resists change, improvement, initiative, transparency, and anything resembling personal responsibility. It leads to a whole slew of corporate maladies including cronyism, nepotism and the Peter Principle – the promotion of incompetent people.

Bureaucratic managers won’t give employees genuine feedback for fear of being sued or accused of harassment, discrimination, being a bully, or creating a hostile work environment. And they certainly can’t publicly praise anyone – that might make others feel inadequate. The result is a culture wrought with fear and loathing.

There’s a famous quote, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” It’s often attributed to Edmund Burke, but many great thinkers, from Plato and Tolstoy to John Stuart Mill and Albert Einstein have made similar observations.

What I find particularly disturbing about the political correctness epidemic is the way so many CEOs and business leaders who are paid the big bucks to act on behalf of their companies are instead behaving like scared little bureaucrats and allowing the spread of this scourge on their watch.

I expect that sort of behavior from politicians and administrators, not from corporate executives and business leaders. After all, if they don’t have the courage to do what’s right, stand up for the meritocracy that made our nation great and carry the torch for the American Dream, who will?

SOURCE

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States Suffer from ObamaCare Regulations

ObamaCare was supposed to reduce the cost of insurance, hence the Affordable Care Act. But is this really what it did? States with less regulations before the law was enacted had more affordable health care costs. Take, for example, North Carolina and Nevada. They saw individual premiums for people in their twenties rise over 150 percent after the law was enacted.

In North Carolina, a twenty-seven year old man, let's call him Peter, would have paid $80 per month on average for his health insurance. After ObamaCare, Peter is paying $217 per month for that same health care coverage. That is an increase of $137 per month, or $1,644 per year. Poor Peter :(.

Peter has a similar situation in other states that had less regulations before ObamaCare was enacted. In Nevada, for example, Peter would have paid $71 per month for his health insurance, but is now paying $276 per month, or $3,312 per year.

The average income in Nevada is $37,361, and people in their twenties almost always make less than the average income. For someone like Peter making around $30,000 per year, having health insurance costs that are more than 10% of that income is totally unaffordable. Prior to the Affordable Care Act, that person would have been paying just $852 per year in health insurance premiums -- less than $1,000, and less than 3% of their total income.

Meanwhile, states like New York and New Jersey, which were heavily regulated to begin with, saw decreases in health insurance premiums. These extreme differences in the price of health insurance before ObamaCare are indicative of states’ priorities. and New York and New Jersey heavily regulated health care, and their citizens paid the price for it.

In North Carolina and Nevada, citizens should not be forced to pay higher premiums just to subsidize the people in states like New York and New Jersey. States should be able to decide their own regulations, and then people can chose where they want to live.

SOURCE

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Civil Forfeiture Violates Property Rights and Freedom

For 38 years, Carole Hinders has owned Mrs. Lady’s Mexican Food in Spirit Lake, Iowa. Mrs. Lady’s only accepts cash payments. In August 2013, the Federal government seized Carole Hinders’ entire bank account of $33,000 because she had a cash-only business. In the best of scenarios, the Federal government merely surmised Hinders was hiding illegal activity. In the worse case, it was simply a shakedown to confiscate her money, and put more money away for the Federal government.

In 2014, the Institute for Justice (IJ) began defending Carole Hinders. With the help of the IJ, Carole Hinders subjected herself to a deposition by Federal prosecutors, which was sworn testimony that could be used against her in a court of law. In time, the Federal government asked the judge to dismiss their lawsuit, and Carole Hinders had her money returned...nearly two years later!

Property rights and the Rule of Law are absolutely essential for our, personal freedoms. George Mason appreciated the importance of acquiring and possessing property when he wrote the Virginia Declaration Rights in 1776.

That all Men (People) are born equally free and independent, and have certain inherent natural Right…; among which are the Enjoyment of Life and Liberty, with the Means of acquiring and possessing Property, and pursuing and obtaining Happiness and Safety.

Tragically, Carole Hinders is not an isolated case. Do you know about a Federal, highway, interdiction program has had 61,000 warrantless seizures amounting to $2.5 billion.

To protect people from governmental abuse, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), and Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI) introduced the Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act. The FAIR Act requires:

A court hearing within 14 days to establish probable cause or the property is returned to the owner.

The property seized was instrumental in the commission of a crime.

The government produces clear and compelling evidence before assets are forfeited.

Proceeds from forfeited goods goes to the General Fund instead of the Attorney General’s Asset Forfeiture Fund.

The FAIR Act will effectively halt the very, predatory abuses by the Federal government, and will restore our property rights as well as the Rule of Law. Through the FAIR Act, our personal freedom will be significantly enhanced in America, so it's important to tell your Senator and Member of Congress to support the FAIR Act.

SOURCE

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No wonder the Left shield Muslims

Both deny the most blatant reality with the greatest of ease

On April 1, the Jerusalem Post had a glaring front page story about a borderless, undemocratic, questionably lawless entity known as ‘Palestine' becoming a member of the International Criminal Court.

The PLO was quoted as saying that "It is war crimes and war criminals that undermine peace efforts." The PLO also said that the decision to join the ICC "reflects Palestine's unwavering commitment to peace, universal values, and determination to provide protection for its people and hold those responsible for the crimes they have committed."

Most Israelis must have been scratching their heads and wondering if this was an April Fools trick being perpetrated by the paper on its readers.  Could a Palestinian Authority guilty of decades of incitement, violence, terrorism, that left thousands of Israelis dead or injured, have decided to join the world criminal court to bring charges against itself?

Maybe, in a fit of moral clarity, they had decided the only way to peace was a complete reform of their violent terroristic tendencies and had thrown themselves on the mercy of the ICC to investigate their war and human rights crimes, both against innocent Israelis and their own people?

But no. Despite the repeated rockets and mortars, over ten thousand in number, against Israeli civilian targets, despite launching terror attacks against Israeli civilians by multiple and uniquely gruesome methods and seemingly oblivious to the heinous crimes they commit they, instead, target the target of their violence, hate, and terror with their application to join this global legal chamber.

And so we turned to page two of the same edition of the Jerusalem Post to read that the Shurat HaDin NGO had filed war crimes charges against Hamas on behalf of 26 Americans for their deliberate firing of rockets at Ben Gurion Airport during the 2014 Hamas-initiated Gaza conflict.

One piece of evidence that, hopefully, will convict Hamas on these charges was the statement of their spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, who had triumphantly admitted that "the success of Hamas in closing Israeli air space is a great victory for the resistance, and is a crown of Israel's failure."

Like a sick joke, the Palestinian Authority and the PLO became members of the ICC in The Hague on April 1. But the Palestinian Authority and the PLO were found guilty on terrorism charges in a New York court on February 23 in a class action suit brought by the families of ten Americans killed by them in a series of deadly attacks that killed 33 people and wounded more than 400 others in Israel.

So much for a Palestinian "unwavering commitment to peace and universal values." As with all their commitments, it's all smoke and mirrors.  But it really is Palestinian war crimes and war criminals that undermine peace efforts, and it is time that the international community opened its eyes to this truth.

SOURCE

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

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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6 April, 2015

There are TWO elephants in Acemoglu's bedroom

Why are some countries rich while others are poor?  The answer to that is not far to seek.  With apologies for the army expression, the major differentiating factors stand out "like dog's balls".  The factors concerned, however, challenge basic Leftist beliefs so Leftists do their usual trick of ignoring the elephant in the room -- seeking more politically acceptable explanations.  So the theses put up by the absurd Leftist economist Daren Acemoglu have been eagerly seized on by the Left. Sadly, however, Acemoglu's theories are as full of holes as a Swiss cheese -- as I have already pointed out.  I would have failed his thesis as a Ph.D. dissertation.  There is however a saying that bad theories are driven out only by better theories so  I think it is incumbent on me to spell out what the obvious factors are.  I attempt that below

Acemoglu has addressed the "geography hypothesis", which points to the rather striking fact that poverty mostly seems to  be concentrated in the tropics and their immediately adjacent area.  So is climate the key to wealth and poverty?  Having myself been born and bred in the tropics, I hope not.  Acemoglu rejects the hypothesis in favour of his own tale about governmental institutions but makes a pretty thin argument of it. 

His chief counter-argument is the prosperity of the Inca and Aztec civilizations prior to the Conquistadores.  And it is certainly notable that those civilizations were in the warmer parts of the Americas.  One swallow doesn't make a summer however and no statistician would let pass a generalization based on a sample size of one. 

Furthermore, I think that what actually went on is fairly clear.  The areas where the meso-American civilizations arose are very fertile agriculturally and easily produced the food  surpluses that are needed for civilization to arise.  Whereas in what is today the USA and Canada, European farming technology was needed before large agricultural surpluses could be produced.

So I think the geography hypothesis is pretty good.  It fits almost all the examples.  Though we could argue about Tasmania, I suppose. But the interesting question is why.  How come that climate makes such a difference?  My answer to that is a very old one.  To oversimplify, in the tropics you just have to pick fruit off a tree to survive whereas in the cold climates you have to lay up food months in advance if you are to survive the winter.  Putting it generally, survival is much harder in cold climates so you need to be smarter to do so.  You have to use a mental model of the future for a start, and that sort of abstract thinking is what lies behind a higher IQ. 

So IQ is the first elephant in Acemoglu's bedroom.  You need information about IQ in order to understand relative wealth and poverty. It is high average IQ that produces wealth-creating behaviour.  Even within modern countries, there is a correlation between low IQ and relative poverty. And, as is now I think well-known, Lynn and Vanhanen have shown a strong correlation between average national IQ and national prosperity.  The catastrophically low average IQ of Africans corresponds closely with the pervasive  dysfunction of African societies -- and indeed of African populations everywhere.  If you want evidence that IQ tests measure what they purport to measure, Africa is very strong evidence that they do.

BUT:  IQ is not the sole foundation of national prosperity.  It suits Leftists like Acemoglu to use simplistic single-factor explanations for everything but most of the world is more complex than that.  China is the obvious counter-example.  The average Chinese IQ appears to be very high (though studies of IQ in China have mostly been confined to coastal areas) and China has long been very poor.

My favourite example however is South India.  South India is very warm and yet the average IQ there appears to be high.  It was South Indian mathematicians and engineers who were behind India's recent remarkable Mars shot. In one bound India leapt to near parity with other space-exploring nations.  And South India is well and truly in the tropics. 

How South Indians got so smart I will have to leave for another day but the continuity of civilization there has to have a lot to do with it.  Tamil Nadu claims to be the only place where a classical civilization has survived into modern times. And the constant wars between South Indian states probably also had a eugenic effect.

The interesting question, then, is why, like China, South India has long been poor.  And in both cases the answer is blindingly clear:  Socialism.  It is particularly clear in South India, which is the land of envy. All the States have been very socialist for a long time and Kerala for a while even had the distinction of having the world's only freely elected Communist government.  Even the present government is very Leftist.

And the same of course goes for China.  It was the virtual relinquishment of socialism under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping  that allowed the recent breakout into prosperity by China.  No matter how smart the people of a country are, socialism will impoverish them.  We saw that also in Russia.  Russia has made great strides since it abandoned Communism. And even India's recent surge was fired up by the big attack on the "Regulation Raj" in the 1990s.

There are of course numerous other examples of the economic benefits of winding back socialism:  Margaret Thatcher's privatizations and Ronald Reagan's tax cuts both ushered in long booms, for instance.  But let me mention another example that might otherwise go largely unheeded:  New Zealand.

New Zealand had some pretty socialistic governments during the 20th century (even the nominally conservative Muldoon regime was a big government regime) while Australia had long periods of conservative rule (including the market-oriented but nominally Leftist Hawke regime).  And that meant that New Zealand was always a poorer country than Australia. Recently however New Zealand has almost completely caught up.  Why?  Australia recently had 6 years of a vastly wasteful socialist government (the Rudd/Gillard regime) whose only notable legacy was a mountain of debt -- while New Zealand has now for over five years been under the prudent premiership of the conservative John Key.  The results were predictable.

So that is the second -- and presumably most unwelcome -- elephant in Acemoglu's bedroom:  Socialism.  High IQ makes you rich and socialism makes you poor.  You need the right combination of those two factors to have prosperity  -- JR.


John Key.  It's rarely mentioned but Key is New Zealand's third Jewish Prime Minister. He is apparently not religious, however

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Let's Recognize Who the Real Haters Are

By David Limbaugh

One may reasonably wonder whether the militant left in this country is solely dedicated to manufacturing issues to keep the nation in a constant state of uproar, angst and disharmony. We're seeing lots of negativity and intolerance from those so concerned that we all love one another.

Their most recent cause for hysterical urgency is Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The left has gone absolutely bonkers attempting to paint that legislation as a license for Christians to discriminate against gays for sport and is smearing anyone who supports it as a reactionary bigot.

Don't you long for those days when words had meaning? Now we have propagandists whose principal job is to deceitfully distort word meanings to promote their causes.

A few examples in the context of the issue at hand are "hate," "homophobe," "discrimination" and "anti-." People who oppose same-sex marriage do not fear or hate people who are gay. They are not advocating discrimination against them, and they are not against them.

These calculated distortions have had an enormous impact on our culture, infecting even people who should know better. Now enshrined in our popular culture, these misrepresentations affect the way people think (which is the whole point, of course) and lead to imputed motives with no basis in fact.

Consider U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's unfortunate language in his opinion in the Windsor case, in which the court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional.

Kennedy said the government's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages imposed a "stigma," codified a "separate status" into law and "humiliate(d)" a certain group of people. He said, "The principal purpose and the necessary effect of this law are to demean those persons who are in a lawful same-sex marriage."

Those were grossly unwarranted accusations. In fact, Kennedy's reckless language could cause the exact harm he professed to be condemning, for he flagrantly stigmatized, humiliated and demeaned proponents of DOMA in presumptuously imputing motives to them they don't possess.

Somewhat similarly, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, in walking back his position on Indiana's law, said, "No one should be harassed or mistreated because of who they are, who they love or what they believe."

That was a profoundly regrettable choice of words that only lends credence to the dishonest activists who are attempting to vilify people who support a law that protects one of this nation's most basic and sacred freedoms, the freedom of religion. Under no reasonable construction of language can business owners' refusal to perform services or sell products for events that celebrate causes that violate their religious beliefs be considered harassment.

The only people being harassed on this issue are the business owners, because of their religious beliefs.

The Indiana law doesn't authorize businesses to deny services to gay people at will. Neither the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act nor any of the state RFRAs have been used as a license for merchants to refuse to do business with gays. But there is a qualitative difference between refusing to serve gays in general and declining to provide services for the very event that solemnizes their legal marriage.

We should expect better from Kennedy and Pence, but not White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who said the Indiana law "could reasonably be used to try to justify discriminating against somebody because of who they love." That incendiary language completely distorts the motive of those who don't want to service same-sex marriage ceremonies, and he knows it.

Leftists also want to marginalize Christians who support such legislation as hateful kooks and outliers, but the truth is that Christianity sanctifies marriage as between one man and one woman, and that is not only in the Old Testament. Those who claim that Jesus never condemned homosexuality should know that he did affirm marriage as between a man and a woman. Reciting Genesis, he said, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?" (Matthew 19:4-5).

Let's not forget what the federal and state RFRAs, as construed by the courts, do. They seek to balance sometimes-conflicting interests. They say the government can't force people to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs unless it can prove it has a compelling interest in doing so, and only then if it does so by the least restrictive means.

Again, RFRAs recognize potential disagreements and provide for a reasonable balancing of those interests. But the ugly truth is that opponents of RFRAs don't want there to be a balancing test. They don't believe that the religious convictions of Christians on same-sex marriage deserve any protection. They are the extremists in this conflict, not the Christian merchants who choose to respectfully decline performing services for a very minute fraction of transactions involving gays.

What people should keep in mind is that any real hatred involved in this latest hot-button issue is emanating from the people who are falsely claiming to be victimized by hate. The nasty, mean-spirited rhetoric, the desire to harm people for exercising their religion and the efforts to smear a certain group of people are coming from leftist activists against Christians, not Christians against gays. Those are the facts.

The question is, will our Republican politicians have the backbone to stand up for what is right on this issue and vindicate religious liberty?

SOURCE

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Huckabee on Indiana Law: 'This Is a Manufactured Crisis by the Left'

 The furor over Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act "is a manufactured crisis by the Left," former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) told Fox News's Megyn Kelly Wednesday night.

"If they manufactured as many products as they do crises like this one, which is an utterly phony attempt to create some kind of division, 92 million Americans who are jobless would have jobs.

"I've never seen anything so utterly off the mark in my life as trying to pretend that the RFRA law is actually discrimination. It is most certainly not. It simply gives you access to the court. And there's no guarantee that you're going to win when you go."

Huckabee spoke one day after Arkansas, the state he once governed, also passed a Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which the current governor wants to change. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) wants the state law to precisely mirror the federal RFRA signed in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) also has asked the Indiana State Legislature to make changes, following an "avalanche" of criticism that the Indiana law is a license to discriminate against homosexuals.

"There's nothing in the RFRA that in anyway says a thing about homosexuality, gay marriage," Huckabee told "The Kelly File" on Wednesday.

He said it's important to differentiate between discrimination and discretion: "Discrimination is if when someone comes into the pizza place, they're turned away because they're black or because they're female or because they're gay, although I don't honestly know how you would know someone is gay just because they walked in and ordered a pepperoni pizza.

"But discretion is something that every American should have the right to exercise. Which is that if you come to my place and order cupcakes or a donut, I'll serve you. If you want me to show up and deliver a cake with two men on top of it, because I'm a Christian, because I believe the biblical definition of marriage, then I'm not going to be able to do that. That's not discrimination. That's discretion. And there's a difference."

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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5 April, 2015

Are American young men nogoodniks?

In 2011 Kay Hymowitz wrote an article for the WSJ under the heading "Where Have The Good Men Gone?", which basically said that college-educated American  men in their 20s are nogoodniks.  They still behave like adolescents and are no good to young women -- who are far more mature.  And she put forward a number of reasons why that should be so. 

Hymowitz herself is a broadly conservative and married New York Jewish lady born in 1948.  So it would not be inaccurate to refer to her as an old lady.  So is she just lost in the era of her youth (which is roughly also mine) or is there something in what she said?

The article has got a lot of attention.  Google has over 17,000 references to it, and most that I have read agreed with it to some degree -- with feminism getting a lot of blame for the problem.  I am not an American and my stays in America were not long enough to allow me to make any judgments about that particular demographic category.  I think however there are two things I can say about the debate that need to be said:

1). "The men are no good" is an old cry.  Women who have not paired up by age 30 have been singing that song for a long time. The men they met in their 20s were not good enough for them and they somehow think the men they meet in their 30s should be better!  One example from my own life I always find amusing:  I was at a singles party and knew an attractive lady there.  We were chatting and she said to me:  "Where are all the men?".  I pointed out that there were in fact a slight preponderance of men in the room.  She replied: "Not THOSE men".  She had standards much higher than what was available.  So it may be that Hymowitz too has unrealistically high standards when she evaluates young American men.

2).  Value judgments aside, it is incontrovertible that young people these days are not marrying nearly as much as they used to.   Why is that?   I think all the reasons advanced by Hymowitz and others have a part to play but who can doubt that young men have noticed the traumatic divorce cases that regularly feature in the papers?  So often a divorce is reported as disastrous for the man financially and sometimes disastrous in other ways too.  Who would wish that on themselves? And the sure way of avoiding such damage is not to marry in the first place.  Feminism has turned many women into women of easy virtue so sexual deprivation is not a problem.  So if any woman complains that the men she meets "won't commit", just refer her  to the divorce laws in her State.  A man has to be slightly insane to marry these days.  The laws are largely feminist inspired but conspire heavily against what many women want.  Feminists are good at conspiring against the interests of normal women.

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Easter

For Christians, six or so weeks of penance, atonement and self-denial come to a close this weekend. Time to hang up those horse-hair undergarments, unlock the fridge and indulge. Or at least that used to be what happened with the end of Lent.

But several high-powered Anglican bishops, who are urging the Church of England to prove its commitment to battling climate change, want the spirit of Lent to be extended indefinitely. And they are not alone. From lifestyle cops obsessed with our waistlines to the greens obessessed with the contents of our bin liners, too many seem to think life-long self-denial is the way forward. So, here’s an alternative Easter message: buck the miserablism and enjoy yourselves!

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Free Fall in the Middle East

As bombs fall on Yemen and a sectarian war between the Middle East’s leading powers becomes more likely by the day, the Obama Administration seems to feel it might have some spinning to do about the success of its Middle East policy. But as President Ahab glances around his deck, few of his shipmates are manning their posts—in fact, most seem to be scrambling for the lifeboats. Oh well, there’s always that trusty tar, Unnamed State Department Official, to rely on for a friendly quote in Politico:

“There’s a sense that the only view worth having on the Middle East is the long view. […] We’ve painfully seen that good can turn to bad and bad can turn to good in an instant, which might be a sobriety worth holding on to at moments like this. The truth is, you can dwell on Yemen, or you can recognize that we’re one agreement away from a game-changing, legacy-setting nuclear accord on Iran that tackles what every one agrees is the biggest threat to the region.”

But among those who are willing to give their names, there is less philosophizing. James Jeffrey, Obama’s former Ambassador to Iraq, cuts through the commentary on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East with a certain pithiness:

“We’re in a goddamn free fall here.”

Meanwhile, over at the New York Times, writers are doing their tortured best to say something other than that a catastrophic breakdown of the President’s foreign policy is taking place in the Middle East—but the defense is less than effective. What can you do, the world is just a mess, seems to be their take:

"Few disagree that the continuing tumult in the Middle East has scrambled American priorities there. This has led many to argue that the Obama administration’s policy for the region is adrift — without core principles to anchor it.

But amid the confusion, some experts said that there cannot be an overarching American policy in the Middle East at the moment. The best the White House can do, they said, is tailor policies according to individual crises as they flare up."

If we had a Republican President and the Middle East were in this much of a mess, and the Administration had been repeatedly exposed as having fundamentally misjudged major developments (calling ISIS the “jayvee team,” Yemen a success, Erdogan a reliable partner, etc. etc.), the NYT would be calling for impeachment and howling about the end of the world. As it is, the newspaper of record reflects philosophically on the complexity of the world, and suggests that nobody could really do anything given the problems around us.

Nobody should be surprised by this, but nobody should miss the most important point here: even the President’s ideological fellow travelers can no longer mount a cogent defense of his Middle East policy. The MSM will still do all it can to avoid connecting the dots or drawing attention to the stark isolation in which the White House now finds itself as ally after ally drops away. It still doesn’t want to admit that the “smart diplomacy” crowd has been about as effective at making a foreign policy as the famous emperor’s smooth-talking tailors were at making a new suit of clothes. But it’s getting harder and harder to find anybody willing to gush about how snazzy the President looks in the sharp foreign policy outfit that he’s sporting around town. The shocked silence of the foreign policy establishment, the absence of any statements of support from European or Asian allies about our Middle East course, the evidence that the President and the “senior officials” whom he trusts continue to be blindsided by major developments they didn’t expect and haven’t provided for: all of this tells us that our Middle East policy is indeed in free fall.

 SOURCE

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The Tricks Obama Is Trying to Play with the Iran Announcement

If you look at what happened today between the U.S. and Iran through the lens of domestic American politics, Barack Obama has made a very clever play here—because what might be called “the agreement of the framework of the possibility of a potential deal” gives him new leverage in his ongoing battle with the Senate to limit its ability to play a role in the most critical foreign-policy matter of the decade.

The “framework” codifies the Obama administration’s cave-ins but casts them as thrilling reductions in Iran’s capacities rather than what they are—a pie-in-the-sky effort to use inspections as the means by which the West can “manage” the speed with which Iran becomes a nuclear power.

Obama’s tone of triumph this afternoon was mixed with sharp reminders that the deal is actually not yet done—and that is entirely the point of this exercise from a domestic standpoint. the triumph signals his troops and apologists that the time has come for them to stand with him, praise the deal sheet and pretend it’s a deal, declare it historic, and generally act as though the world has been delivered from a dreadful confrontation by Obama and Kerry.

But since the deal is not yet done, it could still be derailed. And that is where Obama’s truly Machiavellian play here comes in: He may have found a way to put the Senate in a box and keep Democrats from melting away from him on Iran and voting not only for legislation he doesn’t want but also to override the veto he has promised.

The Senate has two provisions at the ready with which it could go ahead any time. One, called Kirk-Menendez, imposes new sanctions on Iran. Obama promised a veto of this bill should it pass, and after today, one ought to presume that it’s dead.

The other, Corker-Menendez, requires the administration to submit any deal to the Senate within 60 days of its signing. This is a key provision because, of course, what the Iranians want—and what they said today they got—was the lifting of all sanctions. The president, in his statement, vowed to lift the “nuclear” sanctions (there are others involving human rights) if the Iranians comply by the terms of the deal.

Existing sanctions legislation features waivers the president can arguably use to do that. But those sanctions were put into place specifically to make it incredibly painful for Iran to retain any nuclear-weapons capability—not as a means of acceding to Iran’s retention of a nuclear capability.

For this reason, and for the reason that the president is essentially negotiating an arms-control treaty with Iran, the Senate should approve any final deal. Obama disagrees and claims this is merely a nuclear-agreement, not a treaty, and therefore Congress has no role.

That’s a very nervy argument. It is not only disrespectful of the Senate but it misrepresents the nature of what’s being negotiated. And that’s why it’s an argument it appeared the president would lose—that senators would not only vote for Corker-Menendez but would override his veto of it.

Which is why the deal-that’s-not-yet-a-deal works in his favor. Talks are now to continue until the end of June. Obama can and will argue to Democrats that they owe it to him, to their base, and to their governing ideology to give him all the room he needs to get to June 30.

Of course, if the legislation does not pass by June 30 and Obama signs a final deal, the game is up; the Senate can’t retroactively insist in July he bring it to them for a vote.

Will there be a deal by June 30? Maybe, maybe not; maybe they’ll finish, maybe they won’t; maybe the Iranians will say they didn’t agree to this or that and blow up the whole thing; who knows. Probably the total collapse, after all this, would bring the Kirk-Menendez sanctions back to life. Which is why there will never be a total collapse—because these talks can simply go on….

 SOURCE

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Sanctions against Russia backfire

Boost Russian exports; depress Australian and Indonesian exports

Russia is starting to erode the dominance of Australia and Indonesia in the Pacific thermal coal market thanks to the steep depreciation of the rouble over the past 12 months, according to energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie.

Coal exports from Russia to the Pacific have already increased by about 8 million tonnes and the country is making inroads into the market share of the leading suppliers, said Kiah Wei Giam, senior Asia-Pacific region analyst for the firm.

Under cost conditions of 12 months ago, Russian production would have made up about 17 per cent of the first 200 million tonnes of supply to Pacific buyers. But with the depreciation of the rouble, combined with the impact of lower prices, its share jumps to 35 per cent.

"With even closer proximity to the north Asian market, which are typically heavy coal consumers, Russian coal can potentially displace the Australian and Indonesian tonnes," Mr Giam said in a media briefing.

"It is Russia which tops the list of benefactors" with the rouble falling 70 per cent against the US dollar, Mr Giam said.

SOURCE

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Some Indiana Interrogatories

The whole Indiana RFRA controversy prompts a few interrogatories.  Such as:

 *  If a member of the Westboro Baptist Church asks for a bakery to create a cake with their motto “God hates fags,” will the baker be charged with discrimination if she refuses?

 *  If a baker agrees to bake a cake for a gay wedding, but as matter of practice includes the slogan “God hates fags” in, say, Aramaic script on the side of the cake, wouldn’t this be protected speech and/or “expression” under the First Amendment?

 *  Just curious: why hasn’t anyone been to a Muslim bakery to press this newfound frontier of anti-discrimination?  Ah—Steven Crowder has.  Will the Human Rights Campaign Fund descend upon Dearborn, Michigan, tomorrow about this outrageous injustice?  I’m not holding my breath. Short video at link.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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3 April, 2015

An interesting confirmation of a troublesome truth

As far as I can tell, it has always been known that we all get on best with people like ourselves.  The whole history of tribalism, nationalism and xenophobia tells us that. Even Hitler knew it.

Have a look at the 1939 Nazi propaganda placard below (a Wochenspruch for the Gau Weser/Ems). The placard promotes one of Hitler's sayings. The saying is, "Es gibt keinen Sozialismus, der nicht aufgeht im eigenen Volk" -- which I translate as "There is no socialism except what arises within its own people". Hitler spoke a very colloquial German so translating that one was not easy but I think that is about as close to it as you can get.



Hitler saw that people are more willing to share and get involved with others whom they see as like themselves -- leading to the view that socialism will find its strongest support among an ethnically homogeneous population.  He wanted Germany to be racially homogeneous so that socialism could work

With their equality mania, however, modern-day Leftists have been  prone to deny or ignore that old truth.  They are good at denial.  Reality is so pesky for them that they need to be.

Eventually, however, realization of the reality seeped into the social sciences via the work of Robert Putnam.  Putnam was a committed Leftist but what he saw in his research made such a powerful impression on him that he could not deny it.  And it took him some soul-searching before he decided to publish his findings.  But publish them he did and it now seems to be generally accepted in the social sciences that social co-operation and involvement is highest among homogeneous groups of people.

That is awkward for Leftists as they are all for "unity".  They basically agree with Hegel that the ideal society is like an anthill with everyone agreeing with one another and everyone marching together in lockstep towards some utopia.  But the revelation that only the most homogeneous groups can approach anything like that degree of unity undermines the universalism that they also preach.  "All men are brothers" is thoroughly undermined by work such as Putnam's.  But Freud showed us that compartmentalization is a useful psychological defence so I guess that Leftists put Putnam into a mental compartment all by himself.  It must be trying to be a Leftist.  No wonder they get angry when conservatives pop their bubbles.

Anyway it seems that Putnam is now respectable so the recently published confirmation of his finding reproduced below is interesting.  It shows what a bad place the USA is in at present.  Not only racial diversity but also income diversity contributes to alienation between people.  The marked differences between the three major ethnic groups in America are bad enough for social amity and co-operation but when those three groups are also characterized by big average income differences, we have  to say:  "Houston, we have a problem".

So can anything be done about that?  With typical Leftist dullness, the author below thinks we should take more money off those white guys and give to to the black guys -- but that solution has surely been tried and found to do more harm than good.

So that leaves only the traditional human solution:  In order of severity that solution is:  Segregation, Apartheid and Ethnic cleansing.  Such words reek of the Devil in modern-day America however, so the agony of America's hostile race relations will stretch on on well into the future. 

Fortunately, the informal segregation provided by white flight and black clustering in areas of high welfare availability will continue to offer some relief.  So legislators who wished to enhance social co-operation in their area could presumably cut welfare to the bone -- quite the opposite of what the unimaginative writer below recommends


Racial income inequality reduces levels of trust and social capital in communities

By studying survey responses on trust from 110 metropolitan areas from 1973 to 2010, the author finds that racial income inequality decreases trust within communities, and that this lack of trust is exacerbated when communities are more racially fragmented and as this inequality increases      

Andrea Tesei

Income inequality

During the last decade, policy-makers and scholars alike have become increasingly concerned about the social and economic effects of income inequality and racial diversity in the United States. One crucial concern is that diversity - both in race and income - seems to be associated with lower levels of social capital in society. Inhabitants of diverse communities, in particular, tend to withdraw from social life, participate less in collective activities, and trust their neighbours less. Since these dimensions of social life are considered key lubricants of the economic activity, the findings have spurred a public debate about the workings of the American melting pot.

Perhaps surprisingly, the debate has focused almost exclusively on the independent effects of income inequality and racial diversity, overlooking the fact that much of the income inequality in the US has a marked racial connotation. Still in 2010, the median Black and Hispanic household earned, respectively, only 58.7 per cent and 69.1 per cent of that of the median White household.

In a recent LSE CEP working paper, I contribute to the debate by emphasising the role of the income inequality between races (racial income inequality). This aspect of community heterogeneity turns out to be important. My results suggest that it is not racial diversity or income inequality per se which ultimately reduces the level of trust and participation of individuals in US metropolitan areas. Instead, what is key to understanding this lower participation in social life is the extent of racial income inequality in their community.

Trust    


Figure 1 - Similar Characteristics but Different Trust  

      Figures 1 and 2 help to illustrate the point. Figure 1 plots the average level of trust reported by citizens of 110 different U.S. metropolitan statistical areas (MSA), against the average level of racial diversity and income inequality in their MSA. The figure clearly corroborates previous studies, by showing that trust is lower in more racially diverse and income unequal communities. However, it also makes clear that racial diversity and income inequality alone cannot fully account for the difference in trust between similar cities, like San Francisco and Houston. In spite of their almost identical levels of racial diversity and total income inequality, citizens in the two cities have very different levels of trust: while 40 per cent of those living in San Francisco say they can trust others, only 31 per cent in Houston do so.


Figure 2 - Are They Really Similar? 

      The explicit focus on racial income inequality helps to understand this difference. Figure 2 now shows on the horizontal axis the share of total income inequality due to differences between racial groups. Under this dimension, the two cities turn out to be actually very different. The share of total inequality due to differences between races is twice as large in Houston as in San Francisco. This in turn is related to the level of trust in the two cities. In San Francisco, where the probability of meeting an individual of a different race but similar income level is relatively high, the level of trust is higher than in Houston, where belonging to a different race is also likely to be associated with a difference in income.

This same pattern of apparent similarity, which is in reality masking an additional dimension of heterogeneity, is repeated over different pairs of cities in the US My empirical analysis documents the pattern in a systematic way, exploiting answers from 20,000 respondents to the US General Social Survey (GSS) between 1973 and 2010. The survey contains a variety of indicators on the respondents' political views, social behavior and socioeconomic characteristics. Crucially, it also asks respondents whether they think that most people can be trusted. I match their answers to this question to their socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, and to the level of racial diversity, total income inequality and racial income inequality in the MSA of residence.

Negative effect

I start out by showing that racial diversity and total income inequality have a statistically significant, negative effect on individual measures of trust, a result that is consistent with previous studies. But I then find that these effects become statistically insignificant once I account for the income inequality between racial groups, which instead remains negatively and significantly associated to the level of trust of the respondent.

I then show that the negative impact of racial income inequality on trust is larger in more racially fragmented communities, and that members of minority groups reduce their trust towards others more, when racial income inequality increases. These results are consistent with a simple framework in which individuals can be similar in both race and income, and trust towards others falls at increasing rates as individuals become different in both dimensions.

Overall, my results suggests that racial diversity is more detrimental when associated with income disparities between races and that, similarly, income inequality is more harmful when it has a marked racial connotation. This in turn suggests that policies aimed at reducing income disparities along racial lines might be particularly effective in increasing the level of social participation and trust in US communities.

SOURCE


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Higher Minimum Wage Leaves Working Poor Without Childcare

Oakland’s voters who approved the March 1 increase of the minimum wage to $12.25 apparently drank the Kool-aid that it would “help the poor.” Tell that to the working poor parents who will now be scrambling to find good, affordable child care:

Workers who benefit from Oakland’s minimum wage hike might soon lose a service that enables them to work in the first place. It turns out the well-intentioned law is putting a financial squeeze on Oakland’s child care industry, leading some providers to panic.

“Panic” may help sell newspapers, but those who have to keep their doors open deal more in Cold Hard Facts:

Revenues < Expenses = Bankruptcy

So when its main expense (labor) increases by more than 36% overnight (from $9 to $12.25 per hour), Cold Hard Facts say: Increase Revenues or Decrease Expenses.

For a non-profit early childhood development center in Oakland which had recently garnered the highest rating in the county, the only way “out” is decreased costs. Parents of the 63 children cared for there—all working poor—pay little to nothing for the care provided five days a week, every week of the year. Because it is a nourishing environment—providing professional care, guided recreation, stories, socialization and pre-school instruction—it is by definition very labor intensive. And much of that labor is provided by minimum-wage teachers’ aids. The immediate, first-year budget shortfall to meet the mandated wage increase: $146,500

But it’s really more than that: in practice, a rise in the minimum wage puts upward pressure on the pay of those employees who had been earning above minimum wage, but whose relatively higher pay has now disappeared with the mandated minimum-wage increase—so the amount needed to keep everyone equal “relatively” is actually closer to $200,000.

Unfortunately, as a non-profit, it can’t raise “prices” and it doesn’t have an angel it can tap to write a check, so cuts are the reality to keep the doors open.

Infant care, which demands a higher teacher:child ratio, will be discontinued, and staff let go accordingly.

Bottom line: the elimination of care for 11 infants of the working poor, and the jobs of three teacher aids.

This means working poor parents of infants in Oakland now have fewer sources for their care, with higher costs. And three formerly minimum-wage workers are now unemployed.

And that’s just one childcare center. The story is similar across the sector, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. Will parents be able to re-juggle their household budgets and work schedules to ensure their children are well cared for while they work?

San Francisco also raised its minimum wage, and on both sides of the bay the immediate effect has been the close of a popular science fiction bookstore, restaurants—from highest rated to humble Chinatown establishments—and worsened job prospects for youth.

In any case, it’s time to wake up and face reality: raising the minimum wage is a lousy way to “help the poor.” As noted here:

…minimum-wage workers are typically not in low-income families; instead they are dispersed evenly among families rich, middle-class and poor.

Virtually as much of the additional earnings of minimum-wage workers went to the highest-income families as to the lowest. Moreover, only about $1 in $5 of the addition went to families with children supported by low-wage earnings. As many economists already have noted, raising the minimum wage is at best a scattershot approach to raising the income of poor families.

Just another tragic tale of those for whom “Sorry, Your Minimum Wage Law Is a Nightmare.”

SOURCE

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Harry Reid -- Another Master of the BIG Lie

In 2012, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid took to the Senate floor and made a serious and unsubstantiated allegation about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: "Let him prove that he has paid taxes, because he hasn't." Reid knew this was a BIG Lie, which would gain traction for the Left's class warfare game.

Asked this week for his thoughts on that episode -- specifically that his remarks had been called "McCarthyite" -- Reid shrugged and replied, "Well, they can call it whatever they want. Romney didn't win, did he?" Reid's smug gloating is beyond unmitigated arrogance, and speaks volumes about the Left's approach to politics. The ends always justify their means.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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2 April, 2015

The deplorable Daren Acemoglu

The gradual Leftist takeover of American education has now become extreme.  Many American universities and colleges are very reminiscent of Mao's China during the "Cultural Revolution".  The tiniest departure from Leftist orthodoxy is heavily condemned and often punished.  If you doubt it scroll through some of the episodes I have collected on  EDUCATION WATCH.

One area that has to a degree resisted the takeover, however, is economics.  Almost any study of economics uncovers the sheer ignorance of the Left.  Economics makes obvious lots of things that Leftists don't want to know about -- such as the efficiency of markets.  And central to what Leftists hate about economics are the lessons it gives about what it takes for countries and populations to get rich. 

Which is where Daren Acemoglu comes in.  He dismisses all the usual explanations such as reliance on markets and the rule of law and provides his own explanation.

And it is a testament to how desperate Leftists are that they find his explanation attractive.  He essentially says that what you need is more democracy. Given their Fascist tendencies, that would not normally be a congenial idea to the Left.  But given their hatred of market economics, Acemoglu is apparently the lesser of two evils.  So he has become something of a rockstar among Leftist economists.

Sadly, however, much as we would ALL like Acemoglu to be right, he is not.  There have been many examples of rapid economic growith under authoritarian regimes:  Meiji Japan, postwar South Korea, present-day China, the Crown Colony of Hong Kong, Kuomintang Taiwan, Pinochet's Chile, Singapore under Lee Kuan Yew etc.  In all of those, democratic influence was very limited if it existed at all. 

And that is without going into micro-examples such as the great economic success of South African Indians during the Apartheid era. Facing it fairly, one would have to say that RAPID economic growth requires some degree of authoritarianism in government.

So Acemoglu is clearly wrong.  And both I and Steve Sailer have pointed that out in some detail some time ago (here, here, here and here).  So I was a little surprised to see that Steve Sailer returned to the fray rather recently, with an article  late last year.  I think I now however  might know what motivated Steve.  A correspondent has suggested to me that Acemoglu is in line for a Nobel.  That is such a horrible thought that I feel that I too should return to the fray.  I am not however going to say much more personally.  Instead I am putting up below a brief essay by one of the world's brightest and most knowledgeable men:  Bill Gates.  Gates is reviewing Acemoglu's book Why Nations Fail


Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty

By Bill Gates

Why have some countries prospered and created great living conditions for their citizens, while others have not? This is a topic I care a lot about, so I was eager to pick up a book recently on exactly this topic.

Why Nations Fail is easy to read, with lots of interesting historical stories about different countries. It makes an argument that is appealingly simple: countries with “inclusive” (rather than “extractive”) political and economic institutions are the ones that succeed and survive over the long term.

Ultimately, though, the book is a major disappointment. I found the authors’ analysis vague and simplistic. Beyond their “inclusive vs. extractive” view of political and economic institutions, they largely dismiss all other factors—history and logic notwithstanding. Important terms aren’t really defined, and they never explain how a country can move to have more “inclusive” institutions.

For example, the book goes back in history to talk about economic growth during Roman times. The problem with this is that before 800AD, the economy everywhere was based on sustenance farming. So the fact that various Roman government structures were more or less inclusive did not affect growth.

The authors demonstrate an oddly simplistic world view when they attribute the decline of Venice to a reduction in the inclusiveness of its institutions. The fact is, Venice declined because competition came along. The change in the inclusiveness of its institutions was more a response to that than the source of the problem. Even if Venice had managed to preserve the inclusiveness of their institutions, it would not have made up for their loss of the spice trade. When a book tries to use one theory to explain everything, you get illogical examples like this.

Another surprise was the authors’ view of the decline of the Mayan civilization. They suggest that infighting—which showed a lack of inclusiveness—explains the decline. But that overlooks the primary reason: the weather and water availability reduced the productivity of their agricultural system, which undermined Mayan leaders’ claims to be able to bring good weather.

The authors believe that political “inclusiveness” must come first, before growth is achievable. Yet, most examples of economic growth in the last 50 years–the Asian miracles of Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore–took place when their political tended more toward exclusiveness.

When faced with so many examples where this is not the case, they suggest that growth is not sustainable where “inclusiveness” does not exist. However, even under the best conditions, growth doesn’t sustain itself. I don’t think even these authors would suggest that the Great Depression, Japan’s current malaise, or the global financial crisis of the last few years came about because of a decline in inclusiveness.

The authors ridicule “modernization theory”–which observes that sometimes a strong leader can make the right choices to help a country grow, and then there is a good chance the country will evolve to have more “inclusive” politics. Korea and Taiwan are examples of where this has occurred.

The book also overlooks the incredible period of growth and innovation in China between 800 and 1400. During this 600-year period, China had the most dynamic economy in the world and drove a huge amount of innovation, such as advanced iron smelting and ship building. As several well-regarded authors have pointed out, this had nothing to do with how “inclusive” China was, and everything to do with geography, timing, and competition among empires.

The authors have a problem with Modern China because the transition from Mao Zedong to Deng Xiaoping didn’t involve a change to make political institutions more inclusive. Yet, China, by most measures, has been a miracle of sustained economic growth. I think almost everyone agrees that China needs to change its politics to be more inclusive. But there are hundreds of millions of Chinese whose lifestyle has been radically improved in recent years, who would probably disagree that their growth was “extractive.” I am far more optimistic than the authors that continued gradual change, without instability, will continue to move China in the right direction.

The incredible economic transition in China over the last three-plus decades occurred because the leadership embraced capitalistic economics, including private property, markets, and investing in infrastructure and education.

This points to the most obvious theory about growth, which is that it is strongly correlated with embracing capitalistic economics—independent of the political system. When a country focuses on getting infrastructure built and education improved, and it uses market pricing to determine how resources should be allocated, then it moves towards growth. This test has a lot more clarity than the one proposed by the authors, and seems to me fits the facts of what has happened over time far better.

The authors end with a huge attack on foreign aid, saying that most of the time, less than 10% gets to the intended recipients. They cite Afghanistan as an example, which is misleading since Afghanistan is a war zone and aid was ramped up very quickly with war-related goals. There is little doubt this is the least effective foreign aid, but it is hardly a fair example.

As an endnote, I should mention that the book refers to me in a positive light, comparing how I made money to how Carlos Slim made his fortune in Mexico. Although I appreciate the nice thoughts, I think the book is quite unfair to Slim. Almost certainly, the competition laws in Mexico need strengthening, but I am sure that Mexico is much better off with Slim’s contribution in running businesses well than it would be without him.

SOURCE


CODA regarding one of the world's most authoritarian regimes:

I don't want to make this a major part of my argument but I think it can reasonably be said that, depending what you compare it with, even Soviet economic progress was not all that bad.  In the post-1945 era, when African countries mostly went backwards economically and India stagnated, the Soviet performance in science and technology was world-class.  The Sputnik was the first unambigiuous evidence of that but Soviet military machines (tanks, submarines, aircraft) were also a severe challenge to American efforts in that field.  Could any African country produce a T-34 tank, let alone design one? 

Is it unfair to compare Russia with African countries?  If so why? It would be difficult to suggest a politically correct reason why, I think.  The plain fact is that the people are different and that matters. When the British left Africa, they left behind them nations organized in ways that Acemoglu would applaud.  It didn't help.

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Another authoritarian idea from the Left Backfires

In the latest, if not the best, example of why liberals should not be in charge of health care, national security, retirement, foreign policy, or anything else, a Rand Corporation study concluded that Los Angeles' seven year ban on new fast food restaurants did nothing to reduce obesity in the predominately African-American community of South L.A.

Last week, NBC nightly news, hosted by Savannah Guthrie, teased an upcoming segment about the Rand study in which she said: "One city takes an aggressive stand against obesity by banning new fast food restaurants, but what happened next might come as a shock."

Come as a shock to whom? It should have been obvious that a 2008 Los Angeles City ordinance banning, not limiting, but the outright banning of new fast food restaurants in Baldwin Hills, Leimert Park, and portions of South and Southeast Los Angeles would accomplish nothing. What's really shocking is the number of jobs and the amount of tax revenue lost by the city as a result of this nanny, feel-good ordinance.

African Americans suffer the highest rate of unemployment of any group. Instead of promoting economic activity where they live, the City Council chose to depress the economy on the guise of promoting weight loss to improve health, just as the "Great Recession" was taking hold. 

Let's assume the ordinance had never been enacted, and just one of each of the following ten fast food chains established new restaurants in the four areas of the city targeted by the ordinance: McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Carl's Jr., KFC, Panda Express, In-N-Out Burgers, Taco Bell, Pollo Loco, and Jack-in-the-Box. That would create 40 additional businesses.

According to an August, 2014 Forbes Magazine article by Carol Tice titled, "7 Fast-Food Restaurant Chains That Rake In $2M+ Per Store," some of the companies I selected were mentioned. For simplicity, if each of the 40 new stores took in an average of $2 million dollars per year, that would equal $80,000,000 in sales per year. At L.A.'s nine percent sales tax rate, these restaurants would generate $7,200,000 in yearly tax revenue. In the seven years this ordinance has been in existence the city has lost $50,400,000 so far!

In addition, think of the impact these restaurants would have made on local unemployment.  At an average of 40 employees per restaurant, that would be 1,600 people off the unemployment rolls who would now have money to spend, generating additional tax revenue and economic activity.

The increased property values of each of these restaurants would generate higher property tax revenues for Los Angeles County.

Now, consider all the jobs created to build each of these 40 restaurants: carpenters, brick masons, concrete pourers, landscapers, electricians, surveyors, tile setters, etc. Also consider the manufacturing and production of the materials needed for these 40 restaurants: glass, tile, insulation, drywall, roofing, lightbulbs, wiring, cable, speakers, microphones, ovens, stoves, grills, fans, heaters, toilets, sinks, railing, stainless steel counters, advertising, plastic utensils, napkins, plastic trays, trash receptacles, tables, chairs, soap, brooms, and mops. To prepare meals they need, hamburger meat, chicken, beef, rice, tortillas, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, soft drinks, coffee, ice cream, condiments, all of which need to be farmed, processed and then sold, generating more jobs and tax revenue.

As an added bonus, new overweight employees working in fast pace restaurants would help with their weight loss, instead of standing in unemployment lines all day.

When liberals don't like something, they want it banned. Banning new fast food restaurants in one part of the city makes no sense if they can be found elsewhere.

But, that's what liberals do, and everyone suffers for it

SOURCE

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This Doc Fix Is an Outrage

Over the 2015–2025 period, CBO estimates, enacting H.R. 2 would increase both direct spending (by about $145 billion) and revenues (by about $4 billion), resulting in a $141 billion increase in federal budget deficits (see table on page 2). Although the legislation would affect direct spending and revenues, it would waive the pay-as-you-go procedures that otherwise apply.

That is, less than three percent of this spending binge is paid for. Over 97 percent is deficit financed. This is how Republicans are showing how they can govern, especially on health reform?

What is the big deal, anyway? Currently, Congress has a certain amount of money every year to pay doctors. This amount of money increases according to a formula called the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), which was established in 1997. The SGR is comprised of four factors that (by the standards of federal health policy) are fairly easy to understand. Most importantly, the SGR depends on the change in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita.

The Medicare Part B program, which pays for physicians, is an explicit “pay as you go” system. Seniors pay one-quarter of the costs through premiums, and taxpayers (and their children and grandchildren) pay the rest through the U.S. Treasury. Therefore, it is appropriate that taxpayers’ ability to pay (as measured by real GDP per capita) be an input into the amount.

The problem is, the amount is not enough. If growth in Medicare’s payments to doctors were limited by the SGR, the payments would drop by about one-fifth, and they would stop seeing Medicare patients. So, at least once a year, Congress increases the payments for a few months. The latest patch was passed in March 2014 and runs through March 31, 2015. It costs $15.8 billion.

This has happened 17 times since 1997. Congress has never allowed Medicare’s physician fees to drop.

SOURCE

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

List of backup or "mirror" sites here or  here -- for 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)

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1 April, 2015

More scientific brains fried by political correctness

One hopes that the authors below knew what was really going on in their data but they show no sign of it.  Their basic finding is that kids from rich families have bigger brains -- and they claim that wealth somehow has a direct effect on brain size.  Researcher Dr Kimberley Noble is quoted as saying: 

"The brain is the product of both genetics and experience and experience is particularly powerful in moulding brain development in childhood.  This suggests that interventions to improve socioeconomic circumstance, family life and/or educational opportunity can make a vast difference."

It does nothing of the sort.  What is being ignored is that naughty IQ again.  The findings were entirely predictable from what we have long known about IQ.  IQ is both hereditary, tends to be higher among successful people and is associated with larger brain size.  All that the stupid woman has discovered is the old old fact that IQ is hereditary.  And no "interventions" will change that
.

Family income, parental education and brain structure in children and adolescents

By Kimberly G Noble et al.

Abstract

Socioeconomic disparities are associated with differences in cognitive development. The extent to which this translates to disparities in brain structure is unclear. We investigated relationships between socioeconomic factors and brain morphometry, independently of genetic ancestry, among a cohort of 1,099 typically developing individuals between 3 and 20 years of age. Income was logarithmically associated with brain surface area.

Among children from lower income families, small differences in income were associated with relatively large differences in surface area, whereas, among children from higher income families, similar income increments were associated with smaller differences in surface area.

These relationships were most prominent in regions supporting language, reading, executive functions and spatial skills; surface area mediated socioeconomic differences in certain neurocognitive abilities. These data imply that income relates most strongly to brain structure among the most disadvantaged children.

Nature Neuroscience, 2015

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Two More States Enact ‘Right to Try’ Laws For Terminally Ill Patients

By delaying new treatments for years, the FDA has probably killed more Americans than road accidents have

Utah and Indiana became the eighth and ninth states to enact “right to try” laws that allow terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs that have not yet been approved for general use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence both signed bills on Wednesday that allow physicians to prescribe “investigational” medication that has made it through the first part of the FDA’s three-phase clinical trials process to terminally ill patients who have exhausted other options.

Joining Pence at the signing ceremony in Indianapolis was five-year-old Jordan McLinn, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a fatal degenerative disease that has no FDA-approved therapies. However, Laura McLinn, the boy’s mother, said that there were promising new drugs being developed that might help her son.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, similar bills have been filed in 32 states and the District of Columbia so far this year.

On March 13, Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the Arkansas Right to Try Act (SB4), which states that “patients who have a terminal disease do not have the luxury of waiting until an investigational drug, biological product, or device receives final approval” from the FDA.

The law grants immunity to pharmaceutical companies, doctors and hospitals who administer experimental drugs except in cases of “gross negligence or willful misconduct.”

On March 9, Gov. Matt Mead signed the Wyoming Right to Try Act (SF3), which passed both chambers of the state legislature with just two dissenting votes.

The law, which goes into effect July 1, also allows terminally ill patients who have “considered all other treatment options currently approved” by the FDA to be treated with “investigational” drugs or devices that have cleared the first phase of clinical trials. Insurance companies are allowed, but not required, to provide coverage for such treatment.

Last November, 78 percent of Arizona voters also approved Proposition 303, a “right to try” ballot initiative. Colorado was the first state to pass similar legislation in 2014.

“When someone is on their deathbed, the fact that FDA regulations would let them die rather than try has got to be one of the most inhumane policies of the federal government. Every state should nullify the FDA like this,” said Mike Maharrey, communications director of the Tenth Amendment Center, which supports “right to try” laws.

However, critics of “right to try” laws say that untested drugs could do more harm than good.

“They’re far more likely to harm patients than to help them,” Michigan oncology surgeon Dr. David Gorski blogged in November, accusing advocates of “shamelessly…play[ing] on people’s fears of Ebola to promote these bad laws.”

“Having passed phase 1 does not mean a drug is safe…If there’s one thing worse than dying of a terminal illness, it’s suffering unnecessary complications from a drug that is incredibly unlikely to save or significantly prolong your life and bankrupting yourself and family in the process,” Gorski added.

Other critics say the FDA’s job is to protect patients from potentially dangerous or ineffective drugs, and that it already has a mechanism in place that allows individuals who do not qualify for clinical trials access to experimental treatments.

The FDA began its first formal “expanded access” program in 1987 after receiving numerous complaints that only a few hundred out of the thousands of patients diagnosed with AIDS were allowed to participate in clinical trials.

A decade later, the FDA allowed terminally-ill patients to apply for its “compassionate use” program, which received 5,849 single-patient applications between 2010 and 2014, and denied only 33.

The FDA pointed out that it approved more requests for expanded access in 2014 than during any year since 2010, when the agency first began publishing statistics on the program. Last year, 1,843 requests for expanded access were received, the highest number since 2010.

But “right to try” advocates say the application process is so time-consuming and cumbersome that it discourages sick people and their doctors from applying, and many patients die before their applications are approved.

The Arizona-based Goldwater Institute, which developed model “right to try” legislation, published a 2014 policy report stating that “over a half million cancer patients and thousands of patients with other terminal illnesses die each year as the bureaucratic wheels at the FDA slowly turn.”

The criticism prompted the FDA to create a working group last December to “develop policies that would improve access to investigational therapies.”

And FDA Associate Commissioner Peter Lurie also announced in February that the agency would “provide a streamlined alternative” application for individual patients that would take only 45 minutes to complete, “compared to the 100 hours listed on the previous form.”

But Goldwater Institute president Darcy Olsen called the FDA process “an inhumane system that prevents the vast majority of Americans with terminal illnesses from accessing promising investigational treatments.

“Compassionate use should be the rule for everyone, not the exception,” Olsen said.

SOURCE

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The Washington Post's Obama Deniers

It's as if they were waiting, breathlessly. The moment Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign, the national media proclaimed their horror. He was "brash," a "hardliner," an "uncompromising conservative," they warned. ABC anchor David Muir announced his agenda was the usual No list: "Promising no abortion, no gay marriage, no gun control, no IRS."

Apparently, there's no room for hope and change — if you're a conservative.

Barack Obama owned the most left-wing voting record during his short tenure in the Senate. But when he announced his presidential campaign in Springfield, Illinois, on Feb. 10, 2007 — arrogantly comparing himself to Abe Lincoln — the networks warmly repeated that he pledged to be a "uniter" that was "promising a more hopeful America." They said he declared it was "time for his generation to end the cynical partisan politics of the baby boomers."

How does that look in 2015? National Review's Jim Geraghty points out that Obama "the Uniter" nudged Vice President Biden and 58 congressional Democrats into boycotting an address from the Israeli prime minister, and now insists on secret deals with Iran with no congressional intervention. His team just announced plans to withhold federal emergency funds from governors who are "climate deniers." They put up barricades around open-air monuments during government shutdowns. Obama mocked his opponents as "tea baggers." The examples of class, gender and race warfare are endless.

But Ted Cruz is unacceptable because he won't compromise.

An unsigned staff editorial in The Washington Post is steeped in denial, if not intellectual obfuscation, ignoring the governing reality of Obama, the uncompromising wacko bird. They acknowledged some similarities — short tenure in the Senate, cute daughters, charisma and alleged constitutional expertise. And then they launched into Cruz by projecting untruths about Obama.

"Here's one way to tell Mr. Cruz from the winning constitutional scholar of 2008: Sen. Barack Obama promised to unite the country. Mr. Cruz — not so much. In fact, the most notable characteristic of Mr. Cruz's brief time in elected politics has been his aversion to values that are essential to democracy's functioning: practicality, modesty and compromise."

That's the President Obama of 2015: Compromise? Modesty? Pragmatism? Or consider candidate Obama, who dropped his pal Reverend Wright from praying at his campaign kickoff at the last minute. He dropped wearing a flag pin for a while in 2007. In 2008, Obama mocked the "bitter clingers" who revere gun rights and religion.

The Post writers plowed ahead shamelessly. Check out this flagrant display of denial about Obama's betrayal of his promises to be uniter in chief.

"It has been more than a decade since Mr. Obama derided 'the pundits' who 'like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states.' If those divisions have proven less mutable than he predicted, the answer is not to give up on progress," the Post proclaimed. We need "leaders who understand that progress and principle can go hand in hand, and who have the pragmatic skills to make that happen."

But the Post wasn't done insulting the senator from Texas. "Mr. Cruz's unique contribution — if one can call it that — has been his confrontational, ideology-driven style and tactics, marked by a refusal to compromise even when that leads to national dysfunction and embarrassment."

The Posties actually choked on Cruz saying, "We demand our liberty." They insisted the country "needs to take its political disagreements down a notch."

This is where the Post agenda becomes clear. Liberals (including journalists) don't want compromise. They want conservative surrender. They certainly don't want embarrassing "extremists" demanding "liberty," as if that was some sort of antiquated notion rejected by the enlightened.

It was The Washington Post that years ago gave us the "poor, uneducated and easy to command types" descriptor for conservatives. Years later, nothing's changed.

SOURCE

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Lessons for the U.S. from Great Britain

Since his inauguration as Great Britain’s prime minister in 2010, David Cameron has pursued a radically different fiscal policy for coping with the aftermath of the Great Recession compared to that of his American counterparts. He has tightened government expenditures, cutting defense spending by 4.3 percent, and the British economy responded with a robust 3 percent growth rate in national output last year. The United States would do well to emulate Britain, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow Ivan Eland.

Cameron has even defied NATO, by reducing defense spending to below the minimum threshold the alliance requires member nations to spend—2 percent of GDP. And despite an upcoming national election, and the temptation this creates to increase government spending, he has pledged to double down on austerity. If the next U.S. president possessed such vision and courage, the United States would reap considerable benefits in terms of economic progress and national security, according to Eland. To promote that end, one project the 45th president of the United States should initiate is the closure of numerous overseas military bases established during the Cold War.

“The next president, whether Republican or Democrat, should plan to substantially reduce such foreign overstretch over a period of four years, so that it could be completed in one presidential term and thus not be reversed,” Eland writes. “Unfortunately, with the hawkish Hillary Clinton the probable Democratic nominee for 2016 and a big-government Republican Party (Tea Party veneer aside) that has already forgotten the lessons of Afghanistan and Iraq and has become more bellicose by the day, a Cameron-style austerity program for defense (and everything else) is extremely unlikely.”

SOURCE

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IN BRIEF





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.

A favorite Leftist saying sums up the whole of Leftism: "To make an omelette, you've got to break eggs". They want to change some state of affairs and don't care who or what they destroy or damage in the process. They think their good intentions are sufficient to absolve them from all blame for even the most evil deeds

Leftists are the "we know best" people, meaning that they are intrinsically arrogant. Matthew chapter 6 would not be for them. And arrogance leads directly into authoritarianism

Leftism is fundamentally authoritarian. Whether by revolution or by legislation, Leftists aim to change what people can and must do. When in 2008 Obama said that he wanted to "fundamentally transform" America, he was not talking about America's geography or topography but rather about American people. He wanted them to stop doing things that they wanted to do and make them do things that they did not want to do. Can you get a better definition of authoritarianism than that?

And note that an American President is elected to administer the law, not make it. That seems to have escaped Mr Obama

That Leftism is intrinsically authoritarian is not a new insight. It was well understood by none other than Friedrich Engels (Yes. THAT Engels). His excellent short essay On authority was written as a reproof to the dreamy Anarchist Left of his day. It concludes: "A revolution is certainly the most authoritarian thing there is; it is the act whereby one part of the population imposes its will upon the other part by means of rifles, bayonets and cannon — authoritarian means"

Leftists believe only what they want to believe. So presenting evidence contradicting their beliefs simply enrages them. They do not learn from it

Psychological defence mechanisms such as projection play a large part in Leftist thinking and discourse. So their frantic search for evil in the words and deeds of others is easily understandable. The evil is in themselves.

Leftists who think that they can conjure up paradise out of their own limited brains are simply fools -- arrogant and dangerous fools. They essentially know nothing. Conservatives learn from the thousands of years of human brains that have preceded us -- including the Bible, the ancient Greeks and much else. The death of Socrates is, for instance, an amazing prefiguration of the intolerant 21st century. Ask any conservative stranded in academe about his freedom of speech

Conservatives adapt to the world they live in. Leftists want to change the world to suit themselves

Given their dislike of the world they live in, it would be a surprise if Leftists were patriotic and loved their own people. Prominent English Leftist politician Jack Straw probably said it best: "The English as a race are not worth saving"

Why do conservatives respect tradition and rely on the past in many ways? Because they want to know what works and the past is the chief source of evidence on that. Leftists are more faith-based. They cling to their theories (e.g. global warming) with religious fervour, even though theories are often wrong

"The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley"[go oft astray] is a well known line from a famous poem by the great Scottish poet, Robert Burns. But the next line is even wiser: "And leave us nought but grief and pain for promised joy". Burns was a Leftist of sorts so he knew how often theories fail badly.

Thinking that you "know best" is an intrinsically precarious and foolish stance -- because nobody does. Reality is so complex and unpredictable that it can rarely be predicted far ahead. Conservatives can see that and that is why conservatives always want change to be done gradually, in a step by step way. So the Leftist often finds the things he "knows" to be out of step with reality, which challenges him and his ego. Sadly, rather than abandoning the things he "knows", he usually resorts to psychological defence mechanisms such as denial and projection. He is largely impervious to argument because he has to be. He can't afford to let reality in.

A prize example of the Leftist tendency to projection (seeing your own faults in others) is the absurd Robert "Bob" Altemeyer, an acclaimed psychologist and father of a prominent Canadian Leftist politician. Altemeyer claims that there is no such thing as Leftist authoritarianism and that it is conservatives who are "Enemies of Freedom". That Leftists (e.g. Mrs Obama) are such enemies of freedom that they even want to dictate what people eat has apparently passed Altemeyer by. Even Stalin did not go that far. And there is the little fact that all the great authoritarian regimes of the 20th century (Stalin, Hitler and Mao) were socialist. Freud saw reliance on defence mechanisms such as projection as being maladjusted. It is difficult to dispute that. Altemeyer is too illiterate to realize it but he is actually a good Hegelian. Hegel thought that "true" freedom was marching in step with a Left-led herd.

What libertarian said this? “The bureaucracy is a parasite on the body of society, a parasite which ‘chokes’ all its vital pores…The state is a parasitic organism”. It was VI Lenin, in August 1917, before he set up his own vastly bureaucratic state. He could see the problem but had no clue about how to solve it.

Leftist stupidity is a special class of stupidity. The people concerned are mostly not stupid in general but they have a character defect (mostly arrogance) that makes them impatient with complexity and unwilling to study it. So in their policies they repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot; They fail to attain their objectives. The world IS complex so a simplistic approach to it CANNOT work.



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. And you may not even survive at all. Stalin killed off all the old Bolsheviks.


MYTH BUSTING:


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)

Just the name of Hitler's political party should be sufficient to reject the claim that Hitler was "Right wing" but Leftists sometimes retort that the name "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" is not informative, in that it is the name of a dismal Stalinist tyranny. But "People's Republic" is a normal name for a Communist country whereas I know of no conservative political party that calls itself a "Socialist Worker's Party". Such parties are in fact usually of the extreme Left (Trotskyite etc.)

Most people find the viciousness of the Nazis to be incomprehensible -- for instance what they did in their concentration camps. But you just have to read a little of the vileness that pours out from modern-day "liberals" in their Twitter and blog comments to understand it all very well. Leftists haven't changed. They are still boiling with hate

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.

Two examples of Leftist racism below (much more here and here):

Beatrice Webb, a founder of the London School of Economics and the Fabian Society, and married to a Labour MP, mused in 1922 on whether when English children were "dying from lack of milk", one should extend "the charitable impulse" to Russian and Chinese children who, if saved this year, might anyway die next. Besides, she continued, there was "the larger question of whether those races are desirable inhabitants" and "obviously" one wouldn't "spend one's available income" on "a Central African negro".

Hugh Dalton, offered the Colonial Office during Attlee's 1945-51 Labour government, turned it down because "I had a horrid vision of pullulating, poverty stricken, diseased nigger communities, for whom one can do nothing in the short run and who, the more one tries to help them, are querulous and ungrateful."

The Zimmerman case is an excellent proof that the Left is deep-down racist

Defensible and indefensible usages of the term "racism"

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.

Leftist psychologists have an amusingly simplistic conception of military organizations and military men. They seem to base it on occasions they have seen troops marching together on parade rather than any real knowledge of military men and the military life. They think that military men are "rigid" -- automatons who are unable to adjust to new challenges or think for themselves. What is incomprehensible to them is that being kadaver gehorsam (to use the extreme Prussian term for following orders) actually requires great flexibility -- enough flexibility to put your own ideas and wishes aside and do something very difficult. Ask any soldier if all commands are easy to obey.

It would be very easy for me to say that I am too much of an individual for the army but I did in fact join the army and enjoy it greatly, as most men do. In my observation, ALL army men are individuals. It is just that they accept discipline in order to be militarily efficient -- which is the whole point of the exercise. But that's too complex for simplistic Leftist thinking, of course



R.I.P. Augusto Pinochet. Pinochet deposed a law-defying Marxist President at the express and desperate invitation of the Chilean parliament. Allende had just burnt the electoral rolls so it wasn't hard to see what was coming. Pinochet 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

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.

FDR prolonged the Depression. He certainly didn't cure it.

WWII did NOT end the Great Depression. It just concealed it. It in fact made living standards worse

FDR appointed a known KKK member, Hugo Black, to the Supreme Court

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!

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.

The Dark Ages were not dark

Judged by his deeds, Abraham Lincoln was one of the bloodiest villains ever to walk the Earth. See here. And: America's uncivil war was caused by trade protectionism. The slavery issue was just camouflage, as Abraham Lincoln himself admitted. See also here

Was slavery already washed up by the tides of history before Lincoln took it on? Eric Williams in his book "Capitalism and Slavery" tells us: “The commercial capitalism of the eighteenth century developed the wealth of Europe by means of slavery and monopoly. But in so doing it helped to create the industrial capitalism of the nineteenth century, which turned round and destroyed the power of commercial capitalism, slavery, and all its works. Without a grasp of these economic changes the history of the period is meaningless.”

Did William Zantzinger kill poor Hattie Carroll?

Did Bismarck predict where WWI would start or was it just a "free" translation by Churchill?

Conrad Black on the Declaration of Independence

Malcolm Gladwell: "There is more of reality and wisdom in a Chinese fortune cookie than can be found anywhere in Gladwell’s pages"

Some people are born bad -- confirmed by genetics research



IN BRIEF:

The 10 "cannots" (By William J. H. Boetcker) that Leftist politicians ignore:
*You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
* You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
* You cannot help little men by tearing down big men.
* You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
* You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
* You cannot establish sound security on borrowed money.
* You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
* You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.
* You cannot build character and courage by destroying men's initiative and independence.
* And you cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they can and should do for themselves.

A good short definition of conservative: "One who wants you to keep your hand out of his pocket."

Beware of good intentions. They mostly lead to coercion

A gargantuan case of hubris, coupled with stunning level of ignorance about how the real world works, is the essence of progressivism.

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

It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong - Thomas Sowell

Leftists think that utopia can be coerced into existence -- so no dishonesty or brutality is beyond them in pursuit of that "noble" goal

"England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution" -- George Orwell

Was 16th century science pioneer Paracelsus a libertarian? His motto was "Alterius non sit qui suus esse potest" which means "Let no man belong to another who can belong to himself."

"When using today's model of society as a rule, most of history will be found to be full of oppression, bias, and bigotry." What today's arrogant judges of history fail to realize is that they, too, will be judged. What will Americans of 100 years from now make of, say, speech codes, political correctness, and zero tolerance - to name only three? Assuming, of course, there will still be an America that we, today, would recognize. Given the rogue Federal government spy apparatus, I am not at all sure of that. -- Paul Havemann

Economist Ludwig von Mises (1881-1973): "The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office."

It's the shared hatred of the rest of us that unites Islamists and the Left.

American liberals don't love America. They despise it. All they love is their own fantasy of what America could become. They are false patriots.

The Democratic Party: Con-men elected by the ignorant and the arrogant

The Democratic Party is a strange amalgam of elites, would-be elites and minorities. No wonder their policies are so confused and irrational

Why are conservatives more at ease with religion? Because it is basic to conservatism that some things are unknowable, and religious people have to accept that too. Leftists think that they know it all and feel threatened by any exceptions to that. Thinking that you know it all is however the pride that comes before a fall.

The characteristic emotion of the Leftist is not envy. It's rage

Leftists are committed to grievance, not truth

The British Left poured out a torrent of hate for Margaret Thatcher on the occasion of her death. She rescued Britain from chaos and restored Britain's prosperity. What's not to hate about that?

Something you didn't know about Margaret Thatcher

The world's dumbest investor? Without doubt it is Uncle Sam. Nobody anywhere could rival the scale of the losses on "investments" made under the Obama administration

"Behind the honeyed but patently absurd pleas for equality is a ruthless drive for placing themselves (the elites) at the top of a new hierarchy of power" -- Murray Rothbard - Egalitarianism and the Elites (1995)

A liberal is someone who feels a great debt to his fellow man, which debt he proposes to pay off with your money. -- G. Gordon Liddy

"World socialism as a whole, and all the figures associated with it, are shrouded in legend; its contradictions are forgotten or concealed; it does not respond to arguments but continually ignores them--all this stems from the mist of irrationality that surrounds socialism and from its instinctive aversion to scientific analysis... The doctrines of socialism seethe with contradictions, its theories are at constant odds with its practice, yet due to a powerful instinct these contradictions do not in the least hinder the unending propaganda of socialism. Indeed, no precise, distinct socialism even exists; instead there is only a vague, rosy notion of something noble and good, of equality, communal ownership, and justice: the advent of these things will bring instant euphoria and a social order beyond reproach." -- Solzhenitsyn

"The heart of the wise inclines to the right, but the heart of the fool to the left." -- Ecclesiastes 10:2 (NIV)

My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government. -- Thomas Jefferson

"Much that passes as idealism is disguised hatred or disguised love of power" -- Bertrand Russell

Evan Sayet: The Left sides "...invariably with evil over good, wrong over right, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success." (t=5:35+ on video)

The Republicans are the gracious side of American politics. It is the Democrats who are the nasty party, the haters

Wanting to stay out of the quarrels of other nations is conservative -- but conservatives will fight if attacked or seriously endangered. Anglo/Irish statesman Lord Castlereagh (1769-1822), who led the political coalition that defeated Napoleon, was an isolationist, as were traditional American conservatives.

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.

There is better evidence for creation than there is for the Leftist claim that “gender” is a “social construct”. Most Leftist claims seem to be faith-based rather than founded on the facts

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

Gore Vidal: "Every time a friend succeeds, I die a little". Vidal was of course a Leftist

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. Some evidence here showing that envy is not what defines 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.

Was Confucius a conservative? The following saying would seem to reflect good conservative caution: "The superior man, when resting in safety, does not forget that danger may come. When in a state of security he does not forget the possibility of ruin. When all is orderly, he does not forget that disorder may come. Thus his person is not endangered, and his States and all their clans are preserved."

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.

A tribute and thanks to Mary Jo Kopechne. Her death was reprehensible but she probably did more by her death that she ever would have in life: She spared the world a President Ted Kennedy. That the heap of corruption that was Ted Kennedy died peacefully in his bed is one of the clearest demonstrations that we do not live in a just world. Even Joe Stalin seems to have been smothered to death by Nikita Khrushchev

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

Even in the Old Testament they knew about "Postmodernism": "Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!" - Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)

Was Solomon the first conservative? "The hearts of men are full of evil and madness is in their hearts" -- Ecclesiastes: 9:3 (RSV). He could almost have been talking about Global Warming.

Leftist hatred of Christianity goes back as far as the massacre of the Carmelite nuns during the French revolution. Yancey has written a whole book tabulating modern Leftist hatred of Christians. It is a rival religion to Leftism.

"If one rejects laissez faire on account of man's fallibility and moral weakness, one must for the same reason also reject every kind of government action." - Ludwig von Mises

The naive scholar who searches for a consistent Leftist program will not find it. What there is consists only in the negation of the present.

Because of their need to be different from the mainstream, Leftists are very good at pretending that sow's ears are silk purses

Among intelligent people, Leftism is a character defect. Leftists HATE success in others -- which is why notably successful societies such as the USA and Israel are hated and failures such as the Palestinians can do no wrong.

A Leftist's beliefs are all designed to pander to his ego. So when you have an argument with a Leftist, you are not really discussing the facts. You are threatening his self esteem. Which is why the normal Leftist response to challenge is mere abuse.

Because of the fragility of a Leftist's ego, anything that threatens it is intolerable and provokes rage. So most Leftist blogs can be summarized in one sentence: "How DARE anybody question what I believe!". Rage and abuse substitute for an appeal to facts and reason.

Because their beliefs serve their ego rather than reality, Leftists just KNOW what is good for us. Conservatives need evidence.

Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics. -- C.J. Keyser

Hell is paved with good intentions" -- Boswell's Life of Johnson of 1775

"Almost all professors of the arts and sciences are egregiously conceited, and derive their happiness from their conceit" -- Erasmus

THE FALSIFICATION OF HISTORY HAS DONE MORE TO IMPEDE HUMAN DEVELOPMENT THAN ANY ONE THING KNOWN TO MANKIND -- ROUSSEAU

"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.

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.

"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

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: "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

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

Some ancient wisdom for Leftists: "Be not righteous overmuch; neither make thyself over wise: Why shouldest thou die before thy time?" -- Ecclesiastes 7:16

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."



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.

Heritage is what survives death: Very rare and hence very valuable

Big business is not your friend. As Adam Smith said: "People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices. It is impossible indeed to prevent such meetings, by any law which either could be executed, or would be consistent with liberty or justice. But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies; much less to render them necessary

How can I accept the Communist doctrine, which sets up as its bible, above and beyond criticism, an obsolete textbook which I know not only to be scientifically erroneous but without interest or application to the modern world? How can I adopt a creed which, preferring the mud to the fish, exalts the boorish proletariat above the bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, who with all their faults, are the quality of life and surely carry the seeds of all human achievement? Even if we need a religion, how can we find it in the turbid rubbish of the red bookshop? It is hard for an educated, decent, intelligent son of Western Europe to find his ideals here, unless he has first suffered some strange and horrid process of conversion which has changed all his values. -- John Maynard Keynes

Some wisdom from "Bron" Waugh: "The purpose of politics is to help them [politicians] overcome these feelings of inferiority and compensate for their personal inadequacies in the pursuit of power"

"There are countless horrible things happening all over the country, and horrible people prospering, but we must never allow them to disturb our equanimity or deflect us from our sacred duty to sabotage and annoy them whenever possible"

The urge to pass new laws must be seen as an illness, not much different from the urge to bite old women. Anyone suspected of suffering from it should either be treated with the appropriate pills or, if it is too late for that, elected to Parliament [or Congress, as the case may be] and paid a huge salary with endless holidays, to do nothing whatever"

"It is my settled opinion, after some years as a political correspondent, that no one is attracted to a political career in the first place unless he is socially or emotionally crippled"


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. Freedom needs a soldier

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.

3 memoirs of "Supermac", a 20th century Disraeli (Aristocratic British Conservative Prime Minister -- 1957 to 1963 -- Harold Macmillan):

"It breaks my heart to see (I can't interfere or do anything at my age) what is happening in our country today - this terrible strike of the best men in the world, who beat the Kaiser's army and beat Hitler's army, and never gave in. Pointless, endless. We can't afford that kind of thing. And then this growing division which the noble Lord who has just spoken mentioned, of a comparatively prosperous south, and an ailing north and midlands. That can't go on." -- Mac on the British working class: "the best men in the world" (From his Maiden speech in the House of Lords, 13 November 1984)

"As a Conservative, I am naturally in favour of returning into private ownership and private management all those means of production and distribution which are now controlled by state capitalism"

During Macmillan's time as prime minister, average living standards steadily rose while numerous social reforms were carried out



JEWS AND ISRAEL

The Bible is an Israeli book

To me, hostility to the Jews is a terrible tragedy. I weep for them at times. And I do literally put my money where my mouth is. I do at times send money to Israeli charities

My (Gentile) opinion of antisemitism: The Jews are the best we've got so killing them is killing us.

"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

"O pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee" Psalm 122:6.

If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy -- Psalm 137 (NIV)

Israel, like the Jews throughout history, is hated not for her vices but her virtues. Israel is hated, as the United States is hated, because Israel is successful, because Israel is free, and because Israel is good. As Maxim Gorky put it: “Whatever nonsense the anti-Semites may talk, they dislike the Jew only because he is obviously better, more adroit, and more willing and capable of work than they are.” Whether driven by culture or genes—or like most behavior, an inextricable mix—the fact of Jewish genius is demonstrable." -- George Gilder

To Leftist haters, all the basic rules of liberal society — rejection of hate speech, commitment to academic freedom, rooting out racism, the absolute commitment to human dignity — go out the window when the subject is Israel.

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.

Is the Israel Defence Force the most effective military force per capita since Genghis Khan? They probably are but they are also the most ethically advanced military force that the world has ever seen

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!

Conservatives, on the other hand, could be antisemitic on entirely rational grounds: Namely, the overwhelming Leftism of the Diaspora Jewish population as a whole. Because they judge the individual, however, only a tiny minority of conservative-oriented people make such general judgments. The longer Jews continue on their "stiff-necked" course, however, the more that is in danger of changing. The children of Israel have been a stiff necked people since the days of Moses, however, so they will no doubt continue to vote with their emotions rather than their reason.

I despair of the ADL. Jews have enough problems already and yet in the ADL one has a prominent Jewish organization that does its best to make itself offensive to Christians. Their Leftism is more important to them than the welfare of Jewry -- which is the exact opposite of what they ostensibly stand for! Jewish cleverness seems to vanish when politics are involved. Fortunately, Christians are true to their saviour and have loving hearts. Jewish dissatisfaction with the myopia of the ADL is outlined here. Note that Foxy was too grand to reply to it.

Fortunately for America, though, liberal Jews there are rapidly dying out through intermarriage and failure to reproduce. And the quite poisonous liberal Jews of Israel are not much better off. Judaism is slowly returning to Orthodoxy and the Orthodox tend to be conservative.

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

Amid their many virtues, one virtue is often lacking among Jews in general and Israelis in particular: Humility. And that's an antisemitic comment only if Hashem is antisemitic. From Moses on, the Hebrew prophets repeatedy accused the Israelites of being "stiff-necked" and urged them to repent. So it's no wonder that the greatest Jewish prophet of all -- Jesus -- not only urged humility but exemplified it in his life and death

"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.

Karl Marx hated just about everyone. Even his father, the kindly Heinrich Marx, thought Karl was not much of a human being

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.

Their threatened egos sometimes drive Leftists into quite desperate flights from reality. For instance, they often call Israel an "Apartheid state" -- when it is in fact the Arab states that practice Apartheid -- witness the severe restrictions on Christians in Saudi Arabia. There are no such restrictions in Israel.

If the Palestinians put down their weapons, there'd be peace. If the Israelis put down their weapons, there'd be genocide.


Alfred Dreyfus, a reminder of French antisemitism still relevant today

Eugenio Pacelli, a righteous Gentile, a true man of God and a brilliant Pope


ABOUT

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?

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 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

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.

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

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.

"Intellectual" = Leftist dreamer. I have more publications in the academic journals than almost all "public intellectuals" but I am never called an intellectual and nor would I want to be. Call me a scholar or an academic, however, and I will accept either as a just and earned appellation


My academic background

My full name is Dr. John Joseph RAY. I am a former university teacher aged 65 at the time of writing in 2009. I was born of Australian pioneer stock in 1943 at Innisfail in the State of Queensland in Australia. I trace my ancestry wholly to the British Isles. After an early education at Innisfail State Rural School and Cairns State High School, I taught myself for matriculation. I took my B.A. in Psychology from the University of Queensland in Brisbane. I then moved to Sydney (in New South Wales, Australia) and took my M.A. in psychology from the University of Sydney in 1969 and my Ph.D. from the School of Behavioural Sciences at Macquarie University in 1974. I first tutored in psychology at Macquarie University and then taught sociology at the University of NSW. My doctorate is in psychology but I taught mainly sociology in my 14 years as a university teacher. In High Schools I taught economics. I have taught in both traditional and "progressive" (low discipline) High Schools. Fuller biographical notes here

I completed the work for my Ph.D. at the end of 1970 but the degree was not awarded until 1974 -- due to some academic nastiness from Seymour Martin Lipset and Fred Emery. A conservative or libertarian who makes it through the academic maze has to be at least twice as good as the average conformist Leftist. Fortunately, I am a born academic.

Despite my great sympathy and respect for Christianity, I am the most complete atheist you could find. I don't even believe that the word "God" is meaningful. I am not at all original in that view, of course. Such views are particularly associated with the noted German philosopher Rudolf Carnap. Unlike Carnap, however, none of my wives have committed suicide

Very occasionally in my writings I make reference to the greats of analytical philosophy such as Carnap and Wittgenstein. As philosophy is a heavily Leftist discipline however, I have long awaited an attack from some philosopher accusing me of making coat-trailing references not backed by any real philosophical erudition. I suppose it is encouraging that no such attacks have eventuated but I thought that I should perhaps forestall them anyway -- by pointing out that in my younger days I did complete three full-year courses in analytical philosophy (at 3 different universities!) and that I have had papers on mainstream analytical philosophy topics published in academic journals

As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

A real army story here

Even a stopped clock is right twice a day and there is JUST ONE saying of Hitler's that I rather like. It may not even be original to him but it is found in chapter 2 of Mein Kampf (published in 1925): "Widerstaende sind nicht da, dass man vor ihnen kapituliert, sondern dass man sie bricht". The equivalent English saying is "Difficulties exist to be overcome" and that traces back at least to the 1920s -- with attributions to Montessori and others. Hitler's metaphor is however one of smashing barriers rather than of politely hopping over them and I am myself certainly more outspoken than polite. Hitler's colloquial Southern German is notoriously difficult to translate but I think I can manage a reasonable translation of that saying: "Resistance is there not for us to capitulate to but for us to break". I am quite sure that I don't have anything like that degree of determination in my own life but it seems to me to be a good attitude in general anyway

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.

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" -- and that preference has NOTHING to do with an American soap opera that featured a character who was referred to in that way



Index page for this site


DETAILS OF REGULARLY UPDATED BLOGS BY JOHN RAY:

"Tongue Tied"
"Dissecting Leftism" (Backup here)
"Australian Politics"
"Education Watch International"
"Political Correctness Watch"
"Greenie Watch"
Western Heart


BLOGS OCCASIONALLY UPDATED:

"Marx & Engels in their own words"
"A scripture blog"
"Recipes"
"Some memoirs"
To be continued ....
Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).
Queensland Police -- A barrel with lots of bad apples
Australian Police News
Paralipomena (3)
Of Interest


BLOGS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED

"Food & Health Skeptic"
"Eye on Britain"
"Immigration Watch International".
"Leftists as Elitists"
Socialized Medicine
OF INTEREST (2)
QANTAS -- A dying octopus
BRIAN LEITER (Ladderman)
Obama Watch
Obama Watch (2)
Dissecting Leftism -- Large font site
Michael Darby
Paralipomena (2)
AGL -- A bumbling monster
Telstra/Bigpond follies
Optus bungling
Vodafrauds (vodafone)
Bank of Queensland blues


There are also two blogspot blogs which record what I think are my main recent articles here and here. Similar content can be more conveniently accessed via my subject-indexed list of short articles here or here (I rarely write long articles these days)



Main academic menu
Menu of recent writings
basic home page
Pictorial Home Page
Selected pictures from blogs (Backup here)
Another picture page (Best with broadband. Rarely updated)



Note: If the link to one of my articles is not working, the article concerned can generally be viewed by prefixing to the filename the following:
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/42197/20121106-1520/jonjayray.comuv.com/