American Elephants

House Democrats Get Trained to Make Race the Issue by The Elephant's Child

House Democrats received formal training this last week in how to address the issue of race to defend government programs. Race has long been the number one issue for Democrats. Way back in 1998, the left-leaning New World Foundation commissioned a survey by Zogby International that asked 1,800 rank-and-file members of nine progressive groups what it was that could galvanize them, what a progressive agenda should look like. They wanted to unite progressive groups in a coherent base and win elections. The results of the poll were reported in The Nation magazine.

Respondents ranked Racism as the country’s single most important social problem, followed by poverty, corporate power, jobs/economy, environment, moral decline and education.

The prominence of racism as an issue for Democrats is understandable. They have a long and abysmal record on race to overcome, and they count on government programs for the poor to bind the black and minority vote to the Democrat party. House Democrats fear that the minority vote is slipping away.

Maya Wiley of the Center for Social Inclusion told the House Democratic Caucus and staff that “conservative messages are racially ‘coded’ and had images of people of color that we commonly see used” and proposed tactics for countering the Republicans (presumably) racially-coded rhetoric.  “Right-wing rhetoric.” according to Wiley’s group website.”has dominated debates of racial justice —undermining efforts to create a more equal society, and tearing apart the social safety net in the process” for over 25 years.

As examples of race-coded rhetoric, Wiley reminded the Democrats of Newt Gingrich’s famous comment about President Obama. “Calling a black man ‘the food stamp president” is not a race-neutral statement, even if Newt Gingrich did not intend racism.”

The website of the Center for Social Inclusion includes the following statement:

The right has a strategy to turn us away from racial justice. They claim that racial justice means blinding ourselves to race. They attack programs that right the wrongs of racism or help people of color by calling those very programs racist. Sometimes they pretend that they are not talking about race when they are. Sometimes they use stereotypical images of people of color to suggest that we shouldn’t support policies, implying that “these” people would benefit, without coming out and saying that. The right has been effective in keeping those who want reforms on the defensive, constantly in the position of justifying existing policies rather than advancing new ones that would further our goals. The conservative movement has delayed and rolled back our progress toward a fair and just society under the mantle of a “colorblind” American ideal.

Ms. Wiley and the Center she founded depend on racial justice issues for their livelihood. Preferring government handouts to good jobs, seems an odd  definition of “social justice,” but the center’s website also declares their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, claiming that those jobs are only temporary, (some are, but many are permanent) and we don’t need the oil because solar energy and wind energy provide a cleaner future.

The Democrat Party depends on notions of “racial justice” — and accusations of racism will not go away. They make a lot of money on racism, and they will keep it alive. They have a long history to overcome.

The Antidote to Pessimism: The Free Market Works! by The Elephant's Child

Over the weekend, 230,000 unemployed people lost their benefits, they just ran out. The recession continues, prices climb  at the grocery store, crisis in Europe, class warfare; this seems like a time of unrelenting pessimism. In his book The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, Matt Ridley took a comprehensive look at all of human history through the lens of the awesome power of trade: trade in goods, resources, services, and above all in ideas.

Mr.Ridley says as he writes (in 2010) “it is nine o’clock in the morning. In the two hours since I got out of bed I have showered in water heated by North Sea gas, shaved using an American razor running on electricity made from British coal, eaten a slice of bread made from French wheat, spread with New Zealand butter and Spanish marmalade, then brewed a cup of tea using leaves grown in Sri Lanka, dressed myself in clothes of Indian cotton and Australian wool, with shoes of Chinese leather and Malaysian rubber, and read a newspaper made from Finnish wood pulp and Chinese ink.” He continues, but the point is the worldwide trade that is part of every object we use. Free trade.

For from the earliest man, a trade involved a willing purchaser and a willing seller who agreed on the exchange. The Occupy people are in the streets carrying signs objecting in (often) vile language to capitalism and the free market. Socialism, they are sure, would be much better — then somebody else would pay their college bills. But socialism too has a history. And it has been a disastrous failure everywhere it has been tried. And this time will not be different — it never is. and they are sure, always, that they can fix things with more central planning, more regulation by wise government experts.

Last April 27, one of the worst tornadoes in American history ripped through Tuscaloosa Ala., killing 52 people and wrecking or destroying  2,000 buildings. It took only 6 minutes to put almost one tenth of the city’s population into the unemployment line.  Only a month later, Joplin, Mo., suffered an even more devastating blow— in a city with half the population of Tuscaloosa, a tornado killed 161 people and damaged or destroyed more than 6,000 buildings.

More than 100,000 volunteers mobilized to help the stricken cities. A year later, that spirit lives on in Joplin, where eight of 10 affected businesses have reopened, while fewer than half in Tuscaloosa have even applied for building permits, and vacant lots abound. In Tuscaloosa, officials sought to remake the urban landscape top-down, imposing a redevelopment plan on business, while Joplin took a bottom-up approach, allowing businesses to take the lead in their own recovery. Evidence.

From Small Dead Animals: Wells Fargo Bank is taking steps toward repossessing Stockton, California’s new City Hall, a eight-story high-rise. City government has never moved into the $40.7 million building. City officials in America’s most miserable city still take in over $50,000 in processing and other fees on each new home built, and has been fining homeowners for not painting their yellowing lawns green. Ninety-four retired city union employees receive pensions of over $100,000 a year and free healthcare for life. Big spenders, bankrupt city. Evidence.

Well, that’s California. Governor Brown is raising taxes on the wealthy, who are moving out of the state in droves, as are businesses. Governor Jerry Brown also says that California is facing a higher-than-expected $16 billion budget shortfall, but they are still not ready to call a halt to their ambitious high-speed rail programs. They get lots of Obama money for rail, but California will bear the brunt of the escalating cost, and the shortfall when nobody rides. California has had a net loss of four million residents to other states, and yes, this is evidence as well.

Economist Daniel Mitchell notes that:

President Obama’s fiscal policy is a dismal mixture. On spending, he wants a European-style welfare state. On taxes, he is fixated on class-warfare tax policy.

If we want to know the consequences of that approach, we can look at the ongoing collapse of Greece. Or, if we don’t like overseas examples, we can look at California. If the (formerly) Golden State is any example, it turns out that having high tax rates doesn’t necessarily translate into high tax revenues.

It seems that across the nation, the states with the greatest outflow of citizens and businesses are the states that are trying to recoup their financial standing by raising taxes and increasing regulation — after California, there is Illinois, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and their businesses and their people  are moving to low tax states, with less regulation and even right-to-work rules as governors cut costs and regulations, and rein in out of control benefits. Evidence.

As California is a bad example in the United States, so it is with the ongoing crisis in Greece. Obama wants us to be more like the European welfare states, but Europe is in crisis, and the big questions are whether the European Union can survive at all. The political left has long wanted America to be more like a Scandinavian nation. But while we weren’t paying attention, Sweden has changed with the election of Fredrik Reinfeldt as prime minister in 2006.

Mr. Reinfeldt took office in October of that year, and by January of 2007, tax cutting had begun. They cut welfare spending and began to deregulate the economy. These steps not only did not harm Sweden’s economy, but improved it. Sweden pulled strongly out of the decline of 2008 and 2009, posting GDP gains of 6.1% in 2010 and 3.9% last year, when it ranked at the top of Europe’s fastest growing economies.

While most European countries borrowed heavily, Finance Minister Anders Borg pared back government. His ‘stimulus’ was a permanent tax cut. Borg strongly opposed the Keynesian solution which the left has continued to advance while it rejects an austerity that has yet to be implemented.  Evidence.

These are just a few examples of the free market at work. The free market starts with an agreeable exchange between two people. It’s not all that different if it is an early man trading a bearskin for some shells or you plunking down the money for a new laptop. The exchange will take place only if each feels that they are getting a good deal. Multiply that exchange by the 330 million people in the United States, and attempt to explain how the heavy hand of government, high taxes and heavy regulation can improve upon that trade. Everywhere you look, you will see the free market at work,  — or not working because of government interference.

And do read Matt Ridley’s The Rational Optimist or John Steele Gordon’s An Empire of Wealth. Perfect antidotes for a pessimistic time.  They are not only an optimistic view of the world, but a clear and incisive portrayal of what works.  Beside that, they are just good reads.

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