Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Election 2014, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Statism, Taxes | Tags: Getting Poorer, Median Point in Wealth, Recovery? Not in Net Worth.
From the New York Times via Paul Caron, the taxprof:
Median household net worth has fallen 36% since 2003. The typical household is now worth a third less.
Economic inequality in the United States has been receiving a lot of attention. But it’s not merely an issue of the rich getting richer. The typical American household has been getting poorer, too.
The inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household was $87,992 in 2003. Ten years later, it was only $56,335, or a 36 percent decline, according to a study financed by the Russell Sage Foundation. Those are the figures for a household at the median point in the wealth distribution — the level at which there are an equal number of households whose worth is higher and lower. But during the same period, the net worth of wealthy households increased substantially.
Funny, President Obama keeps telling us how much the economy has recovered, and all the new jobs.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Immigration, Latin America, Liberalism, Media Bias, Mexico, Politics, Progressivism
Remember how this all started? Breitbart broke the story of something like 50 thousand unaccompanied children escaping the violence at home arrived illegally at our borders. It was a way to pressure the GOP into caving in on amnesty. Stories of Border Patrol agents changing diapers, mothers with toddlers, always emphasis on the “children.” We must have compassion for the little children. Well, as the news spread, it became clear that the media, as usual, were either lying to us or ill-informed themselves. Take your pick. 47% of the illegals were young men of age 11-18. A significant number were recruiters for Mara-Salvatrucha, the violent street gang of young men also, coincidentally, age 11-18.
The amnesty idea caved in among the public pretty rapidly. A new poll from Economist/YouGov makes it pretty clear that the plan has backfired badly. Only 11% of the people want what Obama, the Democrats and the media want, which is amnesty for everyone. 77 percent of Americans want the kids sent back home. A full 43 percent want them deported immediately, regardless of what’s happening in their home countries. Another 35 percent want them sent back unless their home country is unsafe.
Further information from questioning the kids has demonstrated that they are NOT escaping violence at home, but are here because of Obama’s promises of amnesty. They were told in their home countries that if they got here they could get in and be cared for. Many were sent with an address or phone number of relatives in the U.S. Many were sent with smugglers. Neither the Border Patrol nor ICE are checking the people to whom the kids have been delivered, not the citizenship, address, nor their relation. The same people have turned up to accept several different children. They are told to turn up for a deportation hearing, but statistically only 20 percent ever do. The rest disappear in the population.
It turns out that Hispanics aren’t all that different from the rest of Americans. Only 22 percent want to give the children amnesty, and a full 64 percent want the children deported. Of that 64 percent, 28 percent want them deported immediately, 36 percent want them deported unless their home country is considered unsafe. But I thought all the Hispanics were demonstrating, demanding amnesty for all. Mostly, they’re right in line with the rest of the country.
The media apparently decided to ignore the problem in favor of concentrating on Israel and Hamas. But 81 percent of the American people believe the jump in illegal immigration is a very serious problem. 57 percent believe that the increasing numbers of illegals is due to the belief that the American government will grant the children amnesty. Only 29 percent believe it was due to increased violence in Central America.
Obama seems remarkably uninterested in the problem, which is interfering with his fundraising and golf. He seems indignant that Republicans are not going along with his ideas about amnesty and determined to pay them back for not letting him have his way. Stubborn petulance would seem to describe it. He is the President of the United States and he expects deference and cooperation, because — he is the most important man in the free world. That doesn’t seem to comport with the idea that America should just be one nation among many, does it.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, History, Immigration, Liberalism, Military, Politics, Progressivism | Tags: Green Jobs Redux?, Obama's New Job Training Act, Work Permits for Illegals?
President Obama has announced “The First Significant Legislative Reform of Our Job-Training System in a Number of Years: The ‘Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” which he signed into law last week. I remain skeptical. Our experience with green jobs, crumbling roads and bridges, or something like 45 or 50 federal job-training programs that were duplicative or useless didn’t work out well.
The president tasked Vice President Biden with a review of our country’s job-training programs to make sure that they have one mission; training our workers with the skills employers need, and matching them to good jobs that need to be filled right now.
About the time that Obama was boasting about all the green jobs his various green energy programs were going to create, I was getting some additional insulation for my attic. Obama had a lot of programs going to train people to better insulate houses. A little perusal of the phone book demonstrated that there were lots of small companies already selling insulation services, and hurting in a down economy because they didn’t have enough work.
It turned out that there weren’t all that many “green jobs”anyway, and when the government tried to list them, the list contained garbage truck drivers, bus drivers, accountants, all sorts of occupations that seemed a real stretch to call “green. Turned out the wind turbines and solar arrays were installed by factory representatives that did a one-time install and that job was over. All that remained was maintenance. And most of the green energy companies went bankrupt in short order anyway.
What has continued to bother me is the clear attitude of the administration that things like job training should be the province of the government. What do a bunch of bureaucrats who have never worked in the private sector know about job training? But there is this certainty that a program or a policy requires a governmental expert to devise the program and be in charge of the program. I have seen no evidence that most of the people in government are experts.
I labor under the conviction that there is very little that is done by the government that is well done or efficient or well designed, or even necessary. The government’s number one job is national defense, and no administration has ever done such a bumbling job of it. Now they are slashing the military to the size it was before World War II!
We lost a lot of good men who tried to do battle with inadequate and obsolete equipment and waiting for trained replacements, quite specifically because our government was unready and unprepared for war. In 1933 the Army of the United States numbered 137,000 men, 16th in size in the world. The French army was 5 million. In 1940, Hitler invaded France. U.S. conscription was reinstituted and by Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, the army had grown to 1,640,000. With our entry into WWII, the army expanded to 8,300,000— not very well trained and poorly equipped, but the Arsenal of Democracy was just tuning up.
“The bill I’m about to sign,” [Obama] said, “will give communities more certainty to invest in job-training programs for the long run.” He added that the bill will help bring those training programs into the 21st century by “building on what we know works based on evidence, and based on tracking what actually delivers” for those who enroll in the programs — more partnerships with employers, tools to measure performance, and flexibilities for states and cities to innovate and run their training programs in ways best suited for their particular demographics and particular industries.
The problem is the conviction that government must do it all, that government is full of wise experts who will direct the ordinary folk:
Before the signing, the Vice President presented the President with the “roadmap” he asked for in the State of the Union — on “how to keep and maintain the highest-skilled workforce in the world.” The report highlights successful job-training programs, details executive actions by the federal government, and aims to help more Americans in getting and moving up in high-demand jobs and careers.
Most colleges and universities do a poor job of preparing students for employment. Most community colleges try to have good occupational programs, and there are lots of vocational schools around. Are they all ineffective? Can the federal government do better? I doubt it.
It’s my experience that a growing economy produces jobs, and when the free market is set free, it starts growing. Business today is hampered by a swamp of regulation. Every time Obama wants to expand, they are swamped with new rules, red tape, new expenses, and new costs for doing business.
Today comes news that Obama is planning “something dramatic,” “very significant” executive action on immigration by summer’s end. US Rep. Luis Gutierrez expects” 3 or 4 maybe even 5 million covered by executive order. Some are expecting granting the ability to apply for work permits. This would be a typical Obama move, with one hand starting a new “jobs program,” with the other — making illegal aliens eligible for jobs. That’s the kind of thing he has been doing for 5 years.
The specter of thousands of unaccompanied children, mainly from Central America, crossing the Texas border has increased a sense of urgency among the American people for reforming the immigration system despite inaction by a “broken Congress,” Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s deputy communications director told the Christian Science Monitor. That gives the president “broad permission” to take action, said Pfeiffer, adding that Obama is consulting with Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Secretary Jeh Johnson to be sure his planned action will on “solid legal footing” and have maximum impact.
Filed under: Politics, Foreign Policy, Economy, Iraq, Energy, Democrat Corruption, Capitalism, National Security, Israel, Islam, Latin America, Intelligence, Immigration | Tags: The Islamic State, The Administration Knew, A World in Flames
Weren’t we told by the administration that they were blindsided by the rapid advance by ISIS last month when Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city fell to this new jihadi army that seemed to come out of nowhere? They not only captured Mosul, but five divisions of the Iraqi army fell and we heard of mass executions, beheadings, crucifixions, and terrified residents fled before the onslaught as the long column headed towards Baghdad.
The administration, according to the record was not surprised at all. Congressional testimony as far back as November made it cleat that the United States had been closely tracking the black-clad jihadis, a ruthless al Qaeda spinoff. Intelligence officials had been closely tracking the group since 2012.
According to McClatchy, Obama administration officials were quite aware of the group’s intention to send men and material back into Iraq and turn loose waves of suicide bombers, which they knew that Iraqi security forces could not handle. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk told a House committee in February that the campaign had the stated objective of carving out a Caliphate in the western regions of Iraq and Syria.
So — if the Obama administration had all that advance warning why are they still trying to figure out what steps, if any, they should take to stop their advance? With all the pictures of the long ISIS column strung out on the road to Baghdad, it looked like a pretty vulnerable target, but I’ve probably read too many thrillers.
They’ve seized all sorts of Iraqi military equipment, drained banks of their assets, seized oil and natural gas fields, military outposts. Nearly every day we hear about another town that has fallen or another outrage they have committed.
What started as a crisis in Syria has become a regional disaster with serious global implications,” Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said Wednesday.
Yet Defense Department officials say they might not complete work on proposed options for U.S. actions until the middle of August, a lifetime in a region where every day brings word of another town or village falling to the Islamic State. Some lawmakers and experts say the delay borders on diplomatic malpractice.
Chairman Royce said Iraqi officials and diplomats at our embassy began urging drone strikes as early as August last year against Islamic State bases near the Syrian border.
This was a very clear case in which the U.S. knew what was going on but followed a policy of deliberate neglect,” said Vali Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and a former State Department adviser on the Middle East.
“This miscalculation essentially has helped realize the worst nightmare for this administration, an administration that prided itself on its counterterrorism strategy,” said Nasr. “It is now presiding over the resurgence of a nightmare of extremism and terrorism.”
The article from the Merced Sun Star is long and, frankly, depressing. Dithering, indecision, Obama believes one of his greatest accomplishments is ending the war in Iraq, he can’t undo that. Drawing red lines in Syria, misunderstanding the Middle East. Obama came to office believing that the key to the problems of the Middle East was Israeli intransigence. If he could broker a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, then the problems of the Middle East would end. That’s why Kerry has been over there wearing out his welcome, pushing absurd agreements. Obama seems to have learned about the Middle East from his friend Rashid Khalidi, the firebrand Palestinian professor.
Matt Lewis of The Daily Caller has a column in Britain’s Telegraph today, suggesting that “Barack Obama has already checked out of his job,” in which he suggests that Obama is “no longer even worried about keeping up appearances, he doesn’t care enough to fake it.”
The United States has apparently not yet delivered the helicopter gunships and F-16 jet fighters that Iraq has already purchased. The administration has also dragged its feet on Baghdad’s request for U.S. military advisers, though 300 were dispatched after Mosul fell. Obama doesn’t seem to get along with Maliki. George W. Bush had weekly video conferences with him.
Gaza’s charter says they will eliminate Israel and take over the land. That’s fairly clear and straightforward. The Islamic State says they have established a new Caliphate in Syria and Iraq, and then…? Putin is still busily working to take over the Ukraine, al Qaeda is threatening a cyber attack on the United States. We have thousands of children, (mostly between the ages of 14 and 17) who are being recruited by MS-17. Obama says he wants to send them back home, but he is settling them in all over the country, and schools will be expected to take the kids. The border is wide open because Border Patrol people have been called away to deal with the ‘unaccompanied children’, and security officials are worried. More businesses are moving their corporate offices overseas to escape taxes, and Obama can’t think of anything to do but punish them. Cutting taxes is not in his vocabulary.
What’s the old saying? Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no lies.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Junk Science, Law, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: American Industry Revolt, EPA Power Grab, Unworkable Climate Plan
American industry has a message for the Environmental Protection Agency: your new plan for climate regulation is “not workable.”
The Partnership for a Better Energy Future, which represents 140 organizations, sent a letter to EPA chief Gina McCarthy Monday night calling on her to extend the public comment period for the new rules, make drastic changes to the proposal and hold more public hearings across the U.S.
“We are all going to tell the EPA that this regulation is simply not workable,” Jay Timmons, CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), said on a call with reporters Tuesday to promote the industry push against the rules.
The EPA said it will hold four public hearings across the country on its proposal which mandates that by 2030 states cut carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels.
Not enough! according to Timmons, the CEOs of the Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association, American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers and more groups as well.
“There is obviously going to be legal action in the future,” Timmons said. “We would like to see the rule altered and see the agency stop and listen to constituents and consumers that will be most impacted.”
“But assuming all things stay as they are, then we’ll see some action in the courts,” he added.
“Already, we have received nearly 300,000 comments on the proposal. In the first 25 business days following the proposal, we have met with 60 groups and we are continuing our outreach through the 120-day comment period,” Purchia said.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Environment, Junk Science, Liberalism, Media Bias, Progressivism | Tags: An EPA Power-Grab, Misguided Regulation, Obama's Cimate Action Plan
This gorgeous landscape comes from the Great Lakes last winter. As the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan is passed on to all departments in the government, the Department of Energy, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture and the Department of Defense all have programs to promote the presidential Climate Action Plan. But it is the EPA that is working hard to fulfill their Clean Power Plan. Another stupid attack on the American economy.
Just last week, the governors of the six New England states met in emergency session at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to discuss the potential full-scale power shortage that seems to be coming. They asked the premiers of five of Canada’s provinces to attend the meeting. If New England is going to get electricity from anywhere, it’s probably going to be from north of the border.
New England has been on a hell-bent drive to rid itself of any form of “dirty” non-renewable energy, and has been closing down coal-fired and oil-fired power plants for the last decade. In 2000, 18 percent of New England’s electricity came from coal and 22 percent from oil. Today it’s 3 percent coal and 1 percent oil. Natural gas has risen from 15 percent to a vulnerable 52 percent. But there is a major problem. New England doesn’t have the pipelines they would need to bring in natural gas.
Eastern Pennsylvania is only a short distance from Connecticut and Massachusetts, where fracking has put Pennsylvania into third place for overall energy production. A proposal from a Huston company to expand its existing pipeline from Stony Point, New York has met with angry resistance from New England greens. They are still fighting global warming and dirty fossil fuels.
Last winter when the real record low temperatures hit, there wasn’t enough gas to go around. Utilities that provide home heating have long-term contracts, and first call. Power plant operators frantically bid against each other for what was left. Prices went from $4 per mBTU to $79 per mBTU. In 2012, New England spent $5.2 gillion on electricity in the whole year. Last winter they spent $5.1 billion just in the first four months.
The CEO of the Independent Systems Operator of New England which runs the grid begged the region not to close down Vermont Yankee and Brayton Point, but the faith in Environmentalism runs deep. You can store up supplies of coal, but you can’t store natural gas, and wind turbines shut down in cold weather. They only got through last winter by regularly importing 1,400 megawatts from Indian Point, the two nuclear power plants on the Hudson in New York. But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and most of the state’s Democratic politician are trying to close down Indian Point as well.
In the next two years New England will be closing down 1/10th of its power capacity because — environmentalism. It’s a religious faith, which they falsely assume to be science. Cold kills a lot more people than heat ever does. The last of the four coal-fired plants at Salem Harbor is due to be shut down because it cannot meet the EPA’s new regulations.Brayton Point, the largest remaining coal plant will be closed for the same reason. A constant barrage of protests and legislative attacks has persuaded Mississippi-based Entergy to close the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Station, a reactor that supplies 75 percent of Vermont’s power and four percent of the region’s power— free of “carbon pollution.”
Canadians are developing huge dams in James Bay and are eager to sell electricity to Americans. That means building transmission lines down from the north, but of course environmentalists are opposed to that too, and trying to block any line in every way they can come up with. We’re in for cold winters as far as we can see, which isn’t far as we cannot predict the future, nor can the computer programs of climate alarmists. As far as predictions go, the Farmer’s Almanac may have a better record than the IPCC computers. We’ll see.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Immigration, Law, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation | Tags: A Crisis of Enforcement, The President's Responsibility, The Rules for Immigration
Everyone talks about “comprehensive immigration reform” but fails to explain just what they mean by the term. And to no one’s surprise, they don’t mean the same thing at all. Mark Krikorian, who heads the Center for Immigration Studies wrote today:
The president’s framing of the unprecedented surge of illegal aliens turning themselves into border officials in the expectation of being allowed to stay in the United States, as an “urgent humanitarian situation”, is only partially correct. The phase is designed to misdirect public attention away from the more damming truths of the surge; it is equally, if not more so, a crisis of enforcement, governing, and the president’s responsibility to carry out his oath of office. It is an ethical issue for the public as well as the president.
None of these considerations are captured or even suggested by the administration’s preferred phasing. Nor are they meant to do so.
At City Journal, Myron Magnet points out that there are really two immigration debates. Three billionaires writing in the New York Times want more immigrants with advanced degrees and investment capital. Silicon Valley magnates want more H1-B visas for tech PhDs, though Magnet has noticed that some of these very magnates have conspired to fix the wages of their highly qualified engineers by forming illegal non-competitive hiring pacts, so who knows what the real demand for high tech skills is? According to other sources we have more STEM graduates than there are STEM jobs. Magnet says:
But this argument has nothing whatever to do with the massed children at our southern border, admitted through a foolish loophole unintentionally created by the Bush administration and exploited by the Obama regime as a way of changing the character of the American people, both by enlarging the underclass whom Democrats can claim it is their mission to rescue with ever more generous welfare programs, and by creating yet more Democratic voters, if these kids ever become citizens—or if they become anchor babies who can then legally bring in their parents and siblings under our existing, and harmful, family-unification immigration policy.
Victor Davis Hanson says that “The last thing a liberal proponent of immigration reform wants is liberal immigration reform. Remember that paradox, and the insanity at the border makes some sense.
In truth, no one in the open-borders coalition wants anything approaching comprehensive immigration reform. Advocates are embarrassed about the present mess at the border not because thousands of foreign nationals, many of them unescorted children and teens, from Latin America, without skills or education, are flocking illegally across the border after largely taking the amnesty cue from Barack Obama, but because they are doing so in such dramatic fashion that the influx has aroused the ire and worry of the American people and exposed illegal immigration to be a callous and illiberal enterprise, promoted by a coalition of self-interested political operatives, commercial concerns, and ethnic chauvinists. …
Such legislation would first have to make border security the top priority. And that would entail three unpalatable requisites.
The first step would be the completion of the fence. Fences do work. That is why, for example, former mayor of Los Angeles and open-borders advocate Antonio Villaraigosa (“We don’t need to build walls, we need to build bridges”) became the first mayor in Los Angeles history to insist on a six-foot-high security fence around his official mayoral residence in Windsor Square, or why the White House, the homes of Silicon Valley billionaires, and the vacation homes of the elite on Martha’s Vineyard all have security fences. How odd that we are lectured about the Neanderthal nature of secure borders by elites who are about the only ones in America who demand them around their own estates.
Then turn back all who crossed illegally, and let that be known. Until deterrence is established, more guards on the border. Then meritocratic legal immigration, ethnically blind and predicated on merit rather than on proximity to the southern border. If just 10 percent of the existing resident-alien pool had criminal records or no record of gainful employment that would mean 1 or 2 million would have to be deported.
And finally, a piece I have mentioned before” “How to Think About Immigration” by Kevin D. Williamson.
The influx of children across our southern border is troubling. First, because they are not all children—not by a sight—but images of children are useful for stirring emotions to muddy the policy waters. Second, because it is not all that unusual; As the Wall street Journal reports, between 23,000 and 47,000 minors illegally entered the United States and were apprehended in each of the past five years; in 2013, we ordered only 3s,525 deportations, suggesting that something on the order of nine in ten, or more, of minor illegal aliens—again, of the number apprehended—are allowed to stay. The number not apprehended is very large, the number of non-minors is very large, and that is how we find ourselves with not millions but tens of millions of illegal aliens resident in these United States.
None of these pieces are long. Read all four and you are well-equipped for an argument with anyone — even a liberal.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, History, Politics, Regulation | Tags: An Agency Power Grab, Attacking Property Rights, The Environmental Protection Agency
The headline read “EPA pulls back from plan to garnish paychecks.” That particular plan was announced quietly an a Friday right before the 4th of July, the way agencies do when they want no one to notice. But I spotted it and wrote about it on the 8th. This administration has so many agencies and departments overstepping the bounds that it’s hard to pick a worst, but the EPA is right at the top of the list, for sheer crookedness.
The Washington Times reported last Wednesday that:
The Environmental Protection Agency bowed to fierce criticism Wednesday and announced that it had hit the brakes on a fast-tracked plan to collect fines by garnishing paychecks of accused polluters.
I was so pleased that I got up and did a little dance around my computer. But then I read the following paragraph:
The agency, which has come under withering attacks from Republican lawmakers for attempting a “power grab,” said it still intended to pursue the new authority to garnish wages without a court order. But now it will follow a more typical and longer review process.
Opponents of the wage-garnish rule applauded EPA’s decision. But the EPA vowed to press on with its plan to snatch fines directly out of Americans’ paychecks. (emphasis added)
Senator David Vitter (R-LA) ranking Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who had battled the proposed rule said, “It’s about time this abuse-prone agency listened to Congress and backtrack on a rule that was clearly an egregious power grab to garnish private citizen’s wages.” Doesn’t sound like they are listening.
This rule (published as close to secrecy as a federal agency can manage) was issued on July 2 in a notice in the Federal Register as a “direct final rule” that would automatically take effect on September 2 unless the EPA received adverse public comment by August 1.
The only improvement seems to be that since they received comments, they have extended the comment period until September 2. They claim they are required to participate in Treasury’s debt-collection program — the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996 (one of Bill Clinton’s) to garnish wages.
What or who gives them the authority to levy fines of, in the case of Wyoming welder Andy Johnson for building a pond on his property, $75,000 a day. That’s up from the fine they imposed on the Sacketts for their supposed “wetland” on a standard residential lot overlooking Priest Lake in Idaho, which was $37,500 a day and they said the Sacketts could contest their action legally. The Supreme Court slapped down the EPA for that one, and made sure the Sacketts got their day in court.
It apparently was revealed in a remark by an EPA official back in 2012. He said:
I was in a meeting once and I gave an analogy to my staff…the Romans used to conquer little villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go into a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw and they would crucify them. And then you know that town was really easy to manage for the next few years.
Ans so you make examples of people who are in this case not compliant with the law. Find people who are not compliant with the law, and you hit them as hard as you can and you make examples out of them, and there is a deterrent effect there.
And companies that are smart see that they don’t want to play that game and they decide at that point that it’s time to clean up.
And, that won’t happen unless you have somebody out there making examples of people. So you go out, you look at an industry, you find people violating the law, you go aggressively after them. And we do have some pretty effective enforcement tools. Compliance can get very high, very, very quickly.
That’s apparently what those enormous fines are supposed to be about— making the accused so terrified that they will comply immediately and sow terror in the heart of anyone else messing with air, water, soil or plants and animals in any way, though they’ve gone after people for picking up arrowheads as well.
The public lands do not, in my opinion, belong to — the government — but to the people, and we allow the government to manage it for us. Property rights are one of the most fundamental bastions of liberty. When a federal agency tramples all over American citizens’ property rights, it’s time to sit up and take notice.