American Elephants


Now That He as Fixed the Middle East, Obama Intends to “Fix” America by The Elephant's Child

suburbs2

Fresh off abjectly surrendering to the mullahs in Iraq, Obama has reverted to full Community Organizer. His broadest attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”is a plan known as “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) which will require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to gather data on the economic and racial makeup of each ZIP code, by the numbers, to disclose whether the numbers display “disparate impact” that requires “fixing.”

The trouble is that Obama knows so much that isn’t so. HUD’s own study explains why this will not work, and advised against expecting better results from a larger or more aggressive relocation program. But Liberals are always true believers in their cherished programs and are sure that a larger or more aggressive relocation program will do it. HUD is pitching the program as a plan to “diversify” America.

“HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” a spokeswoman for the agency explained. “The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds.”

The effort calls for HUD to set aside taxpayer funds to upgrade poorer communities with amenities such as better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as a means of gentrifying those communities. It also calls for using grant money to build affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods. Ultimately however, as it is with virtually every facet of the leftist agenda, it’s a naked power grab: the Obama administration is holding certain housing funds hostage to a city’s efforts to determine patterns of segregation in various neighborhoods and submit plans to address those patterns. Cities that refuse to do so would have funds used to improve blighted areas withheld.

Community organizers have been sure that the reason that poor blacks cannot get home loans to move into better neighborhoods is due to racial discrimination rather than lousy credit history. Democrats insistence on forcing banks to make home loans to poor African Americans who could not pay them back was the cause of the  “worst recession since the Great Recession of the 1930s” as Obama liked to describe it.

Leftist civil rights advocates who invariably worship at the altar of greater government control are thrilled, insisting decades of housing policy have “trapped” poor people in bad neighborhoods, depriving them of better lives. “This rule is not about forcing anyone to live anywhere they don’t want to,” said Margery Turner, senior vice president of the left-leaning Urban Institute. “It’s really about addressing long-standing practices that prevent people from living where they want to.

Uh huh. The federal government is forcing low-income families to move to more expensive neighborhoods, offering housing vouchers worth up to $1,800 a month, and cutting their subsidies if they don’t want to move. The vouchers were created in the 1970s to force low-income families to get out of their neighborhoods, but that effort largely failed, and they remain in their low income neighborhoods. If given a voucher, they usually buy better quality housing in the same neighborhood. Surprise! People want to stay where their friends and relatives are.

Officials concluded the subsidies they were offering previously were too small, so in the Dallas experiment and in some other added regions, they upped the value of the vouchers. In the cheapest zip codes, HUD cut housing subsidies to a maximum of $850 a month, but in the most expensive zip codes they increased them to a current maximum of $1,840.

And possibly they don’t want to be told by the government where they must live.

In a companion “Fair Housing Assessment Tool,” HUD counts “land use and zoning laws, such as minimum lot sizes, limits on multi-unit properties, height limits, or bedroom-number limits as well as requirements for special use permits (and) occupancy restrictions” among “factors contributing to segregated housing patterns.”

Foes point to Westchester County, N.Y., as an example of how HUD seeks to control suburban zoning and building. HUD has withheld $17 million in funds from the tony community after it failed to build several hundred affordable-housing units under federal order.

The hard Left’s utopian dreams of making everybody equal (except for themselves, of course, who will run things) means removing the wealth from the successful, and giving it to the poor. No more suburbs — all will be cities. The left does not approve of suburbs. It’s an effort to achieve economic integration. Obama believes it might not work well at first but after 20 or 30 years, everyone will be used to it.

Stanley Kurtz has been studying this pipe dream of the left for some time, and is the expert to consult. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project has essentially green lighted this initiative.

The administrative usurpation of housing policy” by Stanley Kurtz

“Massive Government Overreach: Obama’s AFFH Rule is Out” Kurtz

“What’s Holding Blacks Back?” by John McWhorter

ADDENDUM: I changed the wording in the first paragraph slightly to clarify just what it is that they are attempting to do. It is not about discrimination or segregation, it is about the numbers matching some pre-conceived perfect mixture of race and ethnicity, Affirmative action for America’s neighborhoods. Has been a disaster for education, and harmed the people they claimed to be helping, the most.



Learning Early About the Perils of the Modern Marketplace by The Elephant's Child

20150711_USP006_0

From The Economist:

ZOEY and Andria Green, who are seven and eight respectively, only look innocent. With their baby faces and cunning, they managed to lure patrons to their illicit enterprise: a lemonade stand outside their home in Overton, Texas. The girls were in business for about an hour in June, selling popcorn and lemonade to raise money for a Father’s Day gift, before local police shut the operation down. Not only were they hawking without a $150 “peddler’s permit”, but also the state requires a formal kitchen inspection and a permit to sell anything that might spoil if stored at the wrong temperature. As authorities are meant “to act to prevent an immediate and serious threat to human life or health”, the officers understandably moved swiftly in.

They took away the teeter-totters, and the merry-go-rounds, and park playgrounds have become so boring kids don’t want to be bothered. Farmers’ markets proliferate, but who qualifies as a farmer? Goods made in home kitchens are a ‘grey area’. Some states have passed “cottage-food laws” allowing people to sell ‘Non-potentially hazardous food such as baked goods, sometimes permitted, but the rules are odd and fussy, and different locations have different rules. Rhode Island allows farmers to peddle their goods, but bans everyone else. Oklahoma rules apply only to bakers who may sell up to $20,000 worth of breads and cakes as long as the sales take place in their homes but not in a market. Minnesota allows the annual cap at $18,000 for sellers who register with the state and take a safety course. Across state lines, you run into federal law.

Health authorities worry about the risk of unlicensed kitchens, though just what the dangers of lemonade are is unknown. There are lots more cottage food laws, and no increase in botulism.

Alas for the Green girls, lemonade is not covered by Texas’s cottage-food law, as it might spoil if it is not properly stored. But the pair have learned a valuable lesson about commerce and regulation. They discovered that if they gave the lemonade away free, but put a box on the table for tips, they could still make money because the “payments” thus became donations. Their father must be proud.

Powerline outlines the perils of the Administrative State. It’s going to take a lot of unraveling.



It’s a Dark Mood, and Getting Darker… by The Elephant's Child

The country seems to be simply — fed up. Fed up with the culture wars, fed up with the biased media, fed up with being lied to, fed up with hypocrisy, fed up with overregulation, fed up with people who are “offended” way too often. Fed up with the language police, and the food police, the thought police, and the opinion police, and fed up with worry and being fed up.

Victor Davis Hanson asked that today. “Is the World Becoming Fed Up?” A great pushback is awakening here and abroad, but its timing, nature, and future remain mysterious. He enumerates the fed-upness that he sees.

At the Federalist, Tom Nichols writes “The New Totalitarians Are Here,” Totalitarians want their rule, and their belief system, to be accepted and self-sustaining—even if it takes bludgeoning every last citizen who disagrees.”

Ben Domenech and Robert Tracinski write “Welcome to Culture War 4.0: The Coming Overreach” which explains how we got here, but suggest that we turn the culture war into a culture competition, which is slightly more positive.

Along the same lines, the Z Man posted “The Rachet.” He says “I’m not sure reality ever catches up with Progressives. They simply exhaust themselves and go into a dormant phase for a while. It is the ratchet effect. The Progressive push begins and we get a series of clicks until finally some push-back and the advance is arrested. The core holds for a while and then the advance begins again. Click, click, click and then another pause.”

Glenn Reynolds said the “Declaration should still wake the powerful up at night.”More than complaints about a king, the Declaration of Independence was a justification for rebellion that applies today.

So if you’re feeling irritable and, well, fed up — you’re not alone. There’s a whole lot of us out there.



An Inauspicious Beginning, But Here We Are In 2015 by The Elephant's Child
July 4, 2015, 5:03 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Freedom, The United States | Tags: , , ,

from
Hamilton’s Blessing
The Extraordinary Life and Times of
Our National Debt
by John Steele Gordon

But there can hardly be a poorer credit risk than a newly formed government in rebellion against a Great Power. Such governments vanish with defeat, the leaders are hanged, and their debts become uncollectible. More, the American colonies had had only rudimentary tax systems, and the new Continental Congress, established in 1775, had none at all. The Congress was able to borrow something over $11 million from the French government and Dutch bankers — both countries soon went to war with Britain hoping to take advantage of this situation — mostly for purchases in those countries. And Congress and the states sold bonds to wealthy patriots who were willing to risk the loss of their capital for the cause. But the money raised was not nearly enough. Thus the nascent United States had no choice but to resort to every financial expediency at its disposal in order to feed, equip, and pay the state militias and the Continental army.

The main source of revenue was in fact, the printing press. Congress issued massive amounts of so-called continentals, paper money that was backed by nothing more than a declaration that it was legal tender. By the end of the war these issues amounted to more than $200 million at face value. But this fiat money had quickly depreciated, as fiat money always does.  Before the war ended, Congress had been forced to revalue earlier issues at only 2.5  percent of face value, and the phrase “not worth a continental” would be part of the American idiom for a century. Further, the state governments and Continental Congress used what were, in effect, forced loans, requisitioning food and supplies from citizens and paying for the goods with IOUs. These also quickly depreciated as they passed from hand to hand.



Regulation, Red Tape, and the Heavy Hand of Government. by The Elephant's Child

The health of small business may be the most important indicator of long term growth in our economy. But this spring has been a hard time for small business. Only 119,000 jobs were added in March, and although April and May saw the jobs market perform better, small businesses who make up the bulk of payroll services firm Paychex Inc.’s customers said the measure of small business hiring was off by half a percentage point by the end of May. Not a good sign.

In today’s world,  when the shift from a manufacturing economy to the information economy is the major trend in American business, the health of small business may be the most important indicator of long term growth. We need hundreds of thousands of creative new small businesses led by entrepreneurs who are attempting to take advantage of the riches of the information sector to provide new products and services.

The Left’s push for a higher minimum wage, and Obama’s new order to force businesses to pay overtime to anyone making less than $50,000 a year will simply encourage the proliferation of robots, electronic cashiers, and more part-time workers. Over time the creativity of entrepreneurs could provide the new jobs that will replace the ones being automated or outsourced. Cheap money and relatively cheap labor should be helping, but a number of factors are at work. We have an administration that deeply believes that more regulations makes life better, which is clearly part of the problem.

Big businesses can cope. When the minimum wage jumps to $15 an hour, a chain of drugstores can afford to install automatic checkout machines that won’t get $15 and hour plus overtime, plus healthcare, plus sick leave, plus being late for work. It’s not so easy for small business.

Control and Regulation and the heavy hand of government  have a cost. The Left is basically clueless. This time it’s affecting us all.



Look Out! The IRS is Going After Small Businesses who Help Workers Buy Insurance. by The Elephant's Child
July 2, 2015, 5:15 pm
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care | Tags: , ,

Female Owner Of Coffee Shop

Some small businesses who reimburse their employees for the cost of the premiums for individual health insurance policies, or who pay their employees heath costs directly will be fined up to $36,500 a year — per employee — under a new Internal Revenue Service regulation that took effect July 1, 2015.

The IRS is considering an employer arrangement that reimburses or pays for employee individual health premiums to be “a group health plan” that is subject to the $100 per-employee per-day penalty. The penalty applies whether the reimbursement is considered a before-tax or after-tax contribution.  This doesn’t sound like it would pass the smell test in the courts.

That penalty is enough to destroy most small businesses.  This rule under which small businesses that get caught helping their workers to buy insurance or pay medical bills —can be fined 18 times more than large businesses that don’t provide coverage at all.

Under the rule, which appears nowhere in the Affordable Care Act, employers who do not offer a group health plan, but give their workers additional pay to compensate for the purchase of health insurance or direct medical expenses can be fined $100 per day, per employee.  Over the course of a year that’s $36,500 per employee up to $500,000 in total.  The penalty on businesses for failing to comply with the employer mandate is only $2,000 per year. …

In fact, according to NFIB research 14 percent of small businesses that don’t offer group insurance reimburse their workers instead.  They think they’re doing a good thing but they’re walking into a minefield.

There is legislation in both houses awaiting action (S. 1697/H.R. 2911).

This seems to fall into the “You Will Obey” category.  The EPA also goes in a big way for enormous fines designed to make people fall into line quickly. I wonder how many owners of small businesses have even heard of this regulation? Typical Obama administration act — force compliance, issue more regulations, and be completely puzzled about why the economy is still in the toilet — but brag about the success of administration policies in the marvelous recovery.  Sigh.



Things Work Better Without Obama’s Overtime Rules by The Elephant's Child

When President Obama is not busy with annoying problems of national security and terrorism,  he will soon grant millions of workers overtime pay. Just a quick signature with his executive pen. Obama just does not understand how business works. He had, according to his biography one brief job in the private sector as sort of a copywriter, which he hated.

Businesses that pay salaried workers less than $455 a week currently  have to pay overtime as well. As a result, many companies, Obama says, are “skirting basic overtime laws, calling somebody a manager when they’re stocking groceries and getting paid $30,000 a year. He wants to raise the threshold to $50,400, which he says will make 5 million more workers eligible for time-and-a-half pay.

Journalists praised Obama’s generosity because he was going to “bring overtime pay to millions,” which assumes that businesses who are employing these newly overtime-eligible workers won’t change anything, they’ll just start paying them time-and-a-half.  Journalists  don’t understand how business works either, unless they specialize in business or economics.

If those workers weren’t getting a market wage, and were underpaid, given their skill levels and  the work they’re doing, they’d get another job. The Left has a view of economics that involves vicious managers who are raking it in, and almost enslaving poor workers who desperately need the benevolent hand of government to force companies to pay them a fair wage.

So in an economy where so many are out of work, businesses are hurting, Obama will fix things by insisting that everybody raise workers’ pay. And he’ll  issue more regulations. Some companies will make sure that workers don’t put in overtime, or ban overtime completely. Or they’ll bring in more part-time workers to avoid the wage hit, or perhaps they’ll just lay off some people. Or maybe they’ll just raise their prices, forcing consumers to pay for Obama’s generosity.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,344 other followers

%d bloggers like this: