Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Election 2014, Freedom, Politics, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: George Orwell Warned Us, Revising the Language, Spin-Spin-Spin
It has reached the point where the Democrats are turning “spin” into, not just a really bad word, but a laughingstock. The effort to turn millions more lost jobs into a “positive” are almost more than can be borne.
Being jobless is no joke, and health care — expensive, lousy health care, does not make it more tolerable. Sure, many people hate their jobs, but there are far more who find achievement and self-respect in doing a good job. Being jobless, accepting some kind of welfare, food stamps is demeaning and depressing. Democrats think of it in terms of the nice thing we’re doing for poor people. The people in question would feel a lot better with economic growth and the chance, once again, to climb the ladder of opportunity, support their families and hope for a better future.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: A Crooked Agency, Silencing the Tea Party, The Internal Revenue Service
Cleta Mitchell is a prominent Washington attorney who represents several clients victimized by the criminal misconduct of the IRS over the past four years. The president of the United States has claimed that the IRS scandal over agents targeting conservative groups is merely the result of “bone-headed decisions” by a few confused employees. He assured Bill O’Reilly, there is not a “smidgen” of corruption involved in a once-trusted federal agency intimidating the president’s political opponents. But then the rules seem to be somewhat different in Chicago.
There are currently six separate investigations of this scandal underway. Two of them by the Obama administration are classic Chicago scams. Obama cronies tasked with investigating Obama cronies. to show that “there’s nothing to see here, just move along.”
This is the 275th day of the IRS scandal, as documented daily by Tax Law professor Paul Caron. He documents the threat to free speech, the rule changes devised to shut down opposition to Democrats and their policies.
Catherine Engelbrecht and her family run a small oil-field machinery business in Texas. In 2009, after seeing several instances of clear voter fraud as a poll-watcher, Mrs. Engelbrecht founded a couple of conservative political groups:”The King Street Patriots,” and “True The Vote”. In mid 2010, she applied to the IRS for nonprofit status.
Here’s the way that seems to work; At Thursday’s hearing, Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked if their business was ever visited by OSHA in their first 20 years of business? Never, was the response.
Once she filed for nonprofit status, they were visited twice by OSHA. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms came twice. The IRS audited several times. The FBI visited 6 times. All just coincidental, of course, though none had visited in the previous 20 years. In Chicago those kinds of intimidating coincidences regularly happen to opponents of the Democrat political machine.
A process of reviewing applications for exempt status had been for decades expected to take three to four weeks was converted to one that took three to four years, and in some cases still is not over.
In spite of, or because, of the six ongoing investigations that mostly seem devised to reach a passive conclusion, Democrats are at greater pains to ensure that the same conservative groups are silenced during the 2014 midterms.
Treasury and the IRS introduced a new rule during the Thanksgiving recess to “improve” the law governing nonprofits. What the rule does is recategorize as “political” all manner of educational activities that 501(c)(4) groups now engage in. This is IRS targeting, by administration design, with the straightforward political goal of putting” tea party groups out of business,” according to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI). Note that the rule changes target only Tea Party groups, not unions or those who might support the Democrats.
Kim Strassel of the WSJ says that “with one little IRS rule it can shut up hundreds of groups that pose a direct threat”to Democrat prospects “by restricting their ability to speak freely in an election season about spending or ObamaCare or jobs. And it gets away with it by positioning this new targeting as a fix for the first round.”
“The IRS has combed through the list of previously targeted tea party groups, compiling a list of their main activities and then restricting those functions.”
Newly sworn-in IRS Commissioner John Koskinen vowed during his confirmation hearing to restore public trust in the agency, and must now decide whether to aid in a new and blatantly political abuse of IRS powers. The White House is using the agency to win an election this fall.
Don’t like ObamaCare? Unhappy with the president’s policy on Iran? Want growth in the economy? Think there should be more attention to increasing employment opportunities? Information about those policies may be hard to get as Tea Party groups are targeted for intimidation.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Politics, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Bureaucratic Waste, The Growth of Government, Unaccountable And Corrupt
The United States government paid for a study to analyze a Defense Department study that evaluated a series of other studies. This is true. How much taxpayer money did the government spend in conducting a study that evaluated a study that evaluated a series of other studies? The government does not know.
In May 2012, ABC News first reported details on this ridiculous case of government waste and inefficiency:
The Pentagon was inundated with so many studies in 2010 that it commissioned a study to determine how much it cost to produce all those studies.
Now the Government Accountability Office has reviewed the Pentagon’s study and concluded in a report this week that it’s a flop.
The study of a study of studies began in 2010 when Defense Secretary Robert Gates complained that his department was “awash in taskings for reports and studies.” He wanted to know how much they cost.
Two years later, the Pentagon review is still continuing, which prompted Congress to ask the GAO to look over the Pentagon’s shoulder. What they found lacked military precision…
The cost of the study of the study of the studies was not available from the GAO.
The original article from abc is here.
What does one do with a report like this? Probably you snort derisively and think unpleasant words about the federal government. But there are constantly things like this, and nobody does anything, nobody gets on the phone to call their congressman, we just let it drift because it is so — usual. How about keeping a little file of stuff the government does that offends you, and taking it with you when your Congressman holds a Town Hall meeting? Those files grow fat pretty quickly if you are paying attention, and how else are they to know that we are offended by the proliferation of waste and fraud.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Law, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Increasing Automation, Minimum Wage Employees
At The Federalist, “11 Facts About the Minimum Wage That President Obama Forgot to Mention.” Excellent summary.
Most interesting: A full-time minimum wage worker in 2014 will make 24 percent more than the federal poverty limit. A single individual who earns the current federal minimum wage and works full-time will earn $14,500 in a year (50 weeks per year x 40 hours pe week x $7.25 per hour. The federal poverty limit for 2014 for a one-person household is $11,670.
One third of minimum wage workers either dropped out of or never attended high school. Educational attainment is clearly a significant factor in determining a worker’s hourly wage. According to BLS, over 36 percent of minimum wage earners — 568,000 our of more than 1.5 million — lack a high school diploma. Do read the whole thing.
In The Wall Street Journal: “The Employee of the Month Has a Battery: Minimum wage hikes are accelerating the trend toward automation — and fewer workers — in services.” (pay wall)
Ten years ago it might have seemed far-fetched that a customer could order food in a restaurant without speaking to anyone. But it’s a reality now as service employers across the country—including Chili’s, Chevys Fresh Mex and California Pizza Kitchen—introduce tabletop ordering devices. A few clicks on an iPad-like device and the food is on its way.
Technology has made these changes possible, but that’s not what’s driving their implementation. Steady federal and state increases to the minimum wage have forced employers in retail and service industries to rely on technology as the government makes entry-level labor more expensive. Now Democrats are pushing to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 from $7.25 at the behest of President Obama, who argued in his State of the Union address that the increase would “help families.” Lawmakers should consider the technology trend a warning.
When you stop and think about it, mechanization has been creeping along without our really noticing. First there were vending machines for candy and pop, eliminating a clerk, and then vending machines started offering all sorts of different things — ice machines, coin exchanges, maps and books. Cash machines, gas stations ( I can remember when gas stations had helpful young men who washed your windshield, checked the oil, filled your gas tank and checked your tires). Now grocery stores and Home Depot stores have automated check out lines.
Tablet-based ordering is coming into vogue at U.S. restaurants: Chefs polled by the National Restaurant Association recently ranked computerized menus as the top tech trend for 2014. Airports in locations like New York City and Minneapolis now feature “restaurants” that are waitstaff-free. In 2011, McDonald’s announced it was replacing human cashiers with touch-screen alternatives at more than 7,000 European locations.
>Customers may find the new technology convenient, but the thousands of young adults who used to earn money filling these roles won’t. The data suggest employers are acting from economic necessity rather than spite. Profit margins in restaurants range from 3%-6%. They are even more modest at grocery stores, at 1%-2%.
Where this is all going, I don’t know. People are increasingly more reluctant to have interaction with other real people. They are absorbed in their smart phones. Now we have Google glass. Surgery is increasingly done by robot. But that is done to increase precision. Jeff Bezos is talking about delivering your packages from Amazon to your doorstep by drones.
Companies must choose between increasing their prices or reducing costs to maintain limited profit margins. It’s a Brave New World. Prepare for the burger-flipping robots from Momentum Machines that replace three full-time kitchen staff, make no wage demands and stage no walkouts.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Health Care, Politics, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Bad Economic Ideas, No Help For The Economy, State of The Union Speech
Democrats mostly don’t read Republican stuff, whether history, economics, or foreign policy. We are the enemy and our opinions and our writings are suspect. A liberal member of the family refused to read a piece I had extracted from the Wall Street Journal because he considered the Journal to be right-wing territory — even though only the Opinion page leans right and the news pages lean left. Anecdotal, of course, but typical of many on the left.
Do you suppose that many Democrats have watched the great videos of Milton Friedman explaining troublesome ideas like the minimum wage, or extending unemployment benefits. They just don’t. And they would reject it, not because it didn’t make sense, but because they were enemy ideas.
Republicans study issues to determine what works. Democrats cite studies that they believe will help them win. Republicans are looking for growth in the economy and successful strategies to get there. Democrats are looking for issues that will sway their voting groups, and testing potential language to see what words will be most effective.
Many studies over time have shown that increasing the minimum wage is an unemployment act for young people. Many states have minimum wage rates that are higher than the national minimum wage. It is meant as a starter wage for people just learning to work, not as a wage to support a family. The official poverty level for a one person household is $11,490. A full-time worker earning $7.25 an hour is above the poverty level. For a two-person household, the poverty level is $15,510, and two people earning the minimum wage would not qualify as being below the poverty level. In most cases, the person who earns the minimum wage belongs to a household where the family income is $50,000 or more. Most people who earn the minimum wage get an increase within a year. Most businesses that hire people at the minimum wage are finding it advantageous to replace workers with self-checkout aisles, and mechanization and robots will soon be replacing more. Then where do beginners learn how to work?
New research shows that extending unemployment benefits is a net economic drag. The liberal case for extension of benefits rests on the supposedly stimulative effect of greater disposable income for the unemployed. The new study conducted by economists at the University of Pennsylvania and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York contends that any such stimulus is dwarfed by the economic damage done by extending jobless benefits. People respond to incentives, and unemployment benefits reduce one’s incentive to look for a job. They allow some people to wallow in discouragement longer than they otherwise would, or encourage the recipients to wait for a better job.
The White House pays women less than it pays men.
Universal pre-kindergarten does not improve outcomes. There are modest positive effects during the preschool era, but they do not last even into kindergarten, much less through elementary years.
There is no evidence that Michelle Obama’s obesity initiatives for children have reduced obesity. Mostly, the kids won, because they hate the lunch menus.
Maybe some people spend a lot of time worrying about those who make more money than they do. It has always seemed to me that it is only a challenge to yourself. What matters is your own success at the things that matter to you. Some mothers take a part-time job so they can be home with their kids when they aren’t in school. When you retire, you and your company part company, They are through with you and concerned with current employees. When you ponder your accomplishments in your old age, it will have more to do with your family and friends than with what you did at work. I just don’t think people spend a lot of time envying those who make more money, though the federal government it insistent on encouraging envy.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Energy, Environment, Politics, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Extraordinary Political Cartoons, Investor's Michael Ramirez, Investors Business Daily
What more needs to be said? (click to enlarge) IBDeditorials.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Education, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Chicago Politics, Gangster Government, President Obama's Economics
One of the problems is that President Obama learned his economics from Saul Alinsky, I guess. We are not allowed to see his transcripts, so no one knows if he ever had a course in economics. He was reported to be the best student of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals ever.
Andy McCarthy summed up the Alinsky approach in his excellent book, The Grand Jihad.
Alinskyites, though, are more sophisticated, patient, and practical. They bore in, hollowing out the system from within, taking on the appearance and argot of the heartland. Their single, animating goal is to overthrow the capitalist social order, which they claim to see as racist, corrupt, exploitative, imperialistic, etc. Everything else — including the cultivation of like-minded Islamists — is negotiable. They reserve the right to take any position on any matter, to say anything at any time, based on the ebb and flow of popular opinion. That keeps them politically viable while they radically transform society. Transform it into what, they haven’t worked out in great detail — except that it will be perfect, communal, equal and just.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Election 2014, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Health Care, National Security, Regulation, Taxes, The United States | Tags: Big-Tent Conservatism, Free Markets / Free People, United We Stand
[American Elephant adds: While I wrote the paragraph quoted from our "About" page, I did not write this post and do not agree with the insulting characterization of the Tea Party.]
If you have ever clicked on the “ABOUT” line in the sidebar, it says :
American Elephants is the internet home of big-tent conservatism — black, white, brown, gay, straight, Christian, Jew or Hindu — it takes elephants of all persuasions, united, to beat back the liberal clowns and lead the circus of politics. So, ladies and gentlemen! Children of all ages! Step right up and come on in under the Big Top!
I have no story about my magical conversion from a youthful romance with the Democratic party, I have always been a Republican. In fact, I’m a 4th generation Republican, one of my great-grandfathers wrote around 1860 that he “was a quiet but interested member of the Republican Party.”
“Republican” is a term in current disfavor, Liberals have gone to great lengths to call us racist, bigots, mean, uncaring, racists, and now “conservative” is the preferred term. My party registration remains the same. The “Big Tent” part has lapsed into disfavor among many Republicans as the Tea Party people are furious with the Republicans in Congress because they haven’t taken down the Democrats, impeached the president, and denied funding to ObamaCare. Business interests are furious with the Tea Party because of their encouragement for shutting down the government, and opposition to increased immigration. Libertarians keep complaining about the regulatory state, and want more conversation about liberty — personal and economic. Republicans disagree about a lot of things, but they also agree about most of the really important ones.
Democrats apparently agree about everything, They even agree in exactly the same words, so one must assume that “the words” are passed down from a particular source, probably the Center for American Progress, the home of those who now want to be called ‘progressives’ instead of ‘liberals’ because ‘liberal’ has become somewhat out-of-favor word. Since they are well-informed by the left-wing media, they scrupulously avoid anything that might question their certainties, which makes it hard to find ways to compromise with opponents.
There is a lot on which Republicans agree. Free markets, free people, respect for the Constitution, support for the military, small government, avoiding over-regulation, low taxes, balanced budgets, fiscal conservatism — a very partial list. But some are neglecting what is meant by a big tent. The Founding Fathers put together a government where the process was meant to be slow so that all sides could be heard and disagreements fully aired. Individuals have their own opinions. Expecting everyone else to agree, or attempting to drum out of the party those who do not agree is a recipe for disaster. Concentrate on the areas of agreement, and support those who agree most of the time.
I agree with the Tea Party. I think the Obama administration is the most incompetent and corrupt administration that we have ever had. I agree with the Libertarians that big government and the administrative state are way out of control, and that Americans are perfectly capable of managing their own affairs without government interference. I agree with business that over-regulation and uncertainty are devastating to business; and if we want a recovery we need to remove the barriers we put in the way of business. There is no reason in the world why America should have the world’s highest corporate tax. Corporations don’t pay taxes, they pass them through to consumers in the price of their goods. No candidate is going to be perfect. We are human, a quarrelsome, flawed species, and we are not going to agree on everything. Don’t expect perfection. If we are going to win, we need everybody in the big tent.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Law, Politics, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Democrat Control Freaks, Free Markets / Free People, Unchanging Upward Mobility
The upward path of income mobility is not always smooth, and not always easy, but for anyone who is determined, it has changed little in the last 50 years. You may get lots of help or have to do it all on your own, but the path is there and open. Freedom is the key.
This year Lyndon Baines Johnson’s “War on Poverty” is fifty years old, and a failure. Unlike today’s Democrats, Johnson was quite explicit on what he intended. The purpose of the “war on poverty” was to make “taxpayers out of taxeaters,” and the slogan was “Give a hand up, not a handout.” He declared “The days of the dole in our country are numbered.” 50 years and trillions of dollars later, there is more dependency than ever. Ironically, dependence on government had been declining since 1960 and was only half of what it had been in 1950. It started up again with the War on Poverty.
In the State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Obama is expected to make income inequality— as measured by the Census Bureau— the centerpiece of his speech. He is unlikely to mention that income inequality has increased more on his watch than it did under any of the three previous presidents. The policies that he is pushing have provided few benefits to those they are supposed to help. Redistribution, raising taxes on the rich would seem like it would help, but Clinton raised taxes and inequality went up. Bush cut taxes and inequality was unchanged during his term in office.
Raising the minimum wage is popular with those who believe that the minimum wage is just not enough to support a family — but that’s not what the minimum wage is supposed to do. It is supposed to be a beginner wage where inexperienced people can learn how to work. It is often called an Unemployment Act for young people — who are usually the ones who get minimum wage jobs. It does not reduce inequality. The minimum wage climbed 21% under Clinton, and inequality also climbed. The unemployment rate among black youth is a disgraceful 60%.
Obama has proposed setting up “Promise Zones” in economically distressed areas that will get federal help and some tax breaks. This is not new, but a variation on the enterprise zone program which had no effect on job or business creation. Obama’s favorite is college aid, but federal aid has exploded in recent years, and encourages increases in tuition. Business wants more immigration, but increased numbers are not good for those struggling at the bottom. The CBO found that the Senate immigration bill would depress the overall average wage for the first ten years.
If there is one thing that most defines the Obama administration, it is the push for control. New regulations are pictured by the large stacks of paper that represent new pages in the Federal Register. The most obvious difference between Democrats and Republicans is the degree of control imposed on ordinary Americans. Republicans believe firmly in free people and free markets. They assume that ordinary people are mostly perfectly capable of managing their own affairs.
Democrats believe that people need to be managed. It’s more that they believe that the wise people who work in government are much more capable of doing the right thing, and telling others what to do. Ordinary people cling to their bibles and guns (yes he actually said that), and need regulating. It can be called the totalitarian impulse. It begins with banning Big Gulp drinks, banning trans-fats, banning incandescent lightbulbs, and extends to managing your health care, your communication, and soon to extend to managing the energy you use. Progressives believe that the world can be improved if they just control every aspect of your life. It’s not meant to be really noticeable. A ban on plastic bags here, a fee to visit a park, you cannot see your usual doctor — he’s not on the list, The little annoyances mount up until one day you wake up and realize just how intrusive the government has become.
Upward mobility is still there. The one thing you need to remember when presented with scary statistics about unemployment, inequality or economic mobility is that these are not the same people over time.
“Income inequality” sounds bad, but how do you make people equal? And is that a good thing? I don’t think so. The control freaks in government decided that we should not have electricity produced by coal-fired power plants. That has added thousands of people to the unemployment rolls. The government has invested millions in favored businesses like solar panels and wind farms, and the few that have not faced bankruptcy have only raised the cost of our energy. Government efforts to pick winners and losers result in failure. The American people are perfectly capable of managing their own affairs without government help. If the government would just stop “helping”, things might turn around.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Election 2014, Taxes | Tags: electoral fraud, IRS Regulations, Silencing the Tea Party
During the long negotiations over the budget deal, Kim Strassel of the Wall Street Journal reports that Obama’s top priority was keeping the IRS clamp on Republican 501(c)(4) groups. The vehicle for that is the recently proposed IRS rule that redefines “educational activities” as excluding anything of a political nature that 501(c)(4) non-profits have routinely conducted.
This would be anything like moral opposition to ObamaCare’s contraception-coverage regulation. Or training poll-watchers, or other efforts to true the vote. This puts a muzzle on Tea Party groups who want to train their members in responding to political skullduggery, and intends to put them out of business. Democrats depend on fudging the vote with previously deceased voters, voting in more than one location, finding “extra” votes, and helping those who are not qualified voters — to vote, like illegals and felons.
Treasury is going to great lengths to keep the process behind the rule secret. The Obama supporter who was put in charge of the investigation of the IRS has unsurprisingly found no real fault, but only misunderstandings and a little mismanagement. The FBI could find no problem with the IRS, except careless mistakes and nothing that could be prosecuted. The 90-day comment period on the proposed IRS regulation ends on February 27.
Cleta Mitchell, an attorney who represents targeted tea party groups filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Treasury and the IRS in December, demanding documents or correspondence with the White House or outside groups in the formulation of this rule. By law, the government has 30 days to respond. Treasury sent a letter to Ms. Mitchell this week saying it wouldn’t have her documents until April — after the rule’s comment period closes. It added that if she didn’t like it, she can “file suit.” The IRS has not yet responded.