Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Crime, Domestic Policy, Economy, Free Markets, Freedom, Law, Regulation | Tags: A Weak Economy, Economist Thomas Sowell, The Importance of Work
The Great Obama Recession continues. Fourth Quarter growth was anemic, expanding at only a 0.7% seasonally adjusted annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2015. That’s weak, really weak. From the end of World War II, the economy grew at an average annual rate of 3.5%, through thick and thin.
The Labor Department reported 292,000 new net jobs in December, but the U.S. labor force participation rate has been declining for more than five years. Only 62.6 percent of the labor force is actually employed. In a study published last month University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan concludes that American safety-net programs changed significantly, in ways that discouraged employment. Unemployment insurance became more generous in several ways. Eligibility rules for food stamps were reduced, waivers from work requirements were granted, and the monthly benefit amount was increased.
In Britain, labor force participation stayed flat throughout the downturn, and it increased for 25 to 54 year olds. In the U.S. labor force participation for ages25 to 54 dropped 3,1 percentage points. The difference was that Britain cut tax rates on income and consumption to encourage low income individuals to work. The American stimulus reduced the incentives to be employed.
Work is important. Only 3% of working-age adults who work full time, year around, are in poverty. Democrats govern most of the major American cities, and they have been increasing their spending significantly. Without the ability to increase their spending much more, they have turned to regulation. By regulating how businesses conduct themselves, who they can hire, what they must provide — they are turning the progressive agenda into a regulatory agenda.
During the 1990s, conservative ideas had a profound and lasting influence on welfare policy, policing, and K–12 public education. Cities that had appeared to be in a death spiral only years before began to see their populations stabilize and even start growing again. Republican mayors such as Steven Goldsmith in Indianapolis, New York City’s Rudolph Giuliani, and Los Angeles’s Richard Riordan gained national renown for their successes. Welfare rolls fell dramatically without the corresponding rise in poverty predicted by liberal doomsayers. Crime rates plummeted. School choice gained broad support throughout low-income minority neighborhoods.
Republican inability to explain what had happened, capitalize on the drop in crime and the popularity of charter schools, led to the reelection of Progressive mayors. The rise in convicted criminals was blamed on racism, not as the cause of the drop in crime. (See Butterfield Fallacy) Progressives aren’t spending in a big way because they don’t have the money. Paying city workers, mostly unionized, and pensions means there’s not enough left for anything else.
Work is Important. To quote Thomas Sowell:
It was Thomas Edison who brought us electricity, not the Sierra Club. It was the Wright brothers who got us off the ground, not the Federal Aviation Administration. It was Henry Ford who ended the isolation of millions of Americans by making the automobile affordable, not Ralph Nader.
Those who have helped the poor the most have not been those who have gone around loudly expressing “compassion” for the poor, but those who found ways to make industry more productive and distribution more efficient, so that the poor of today can afford things that the affluent of yesterday could only dream about.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Education, Free Markets, Freedom, Heartwarming, Media Bias, Politics, The United States, Unemployment | Tags: Charles G. Koch, Koch Industries, Youth Entrepreneurs
The reliably far left Puffington Post had a long article on the evil doings of the notorious Koch Brothers. It seems that Charles Koch is attempting to give some poor kids a path out of poverty and into prosperity.The Koch brothers are the source constant attacks from the left because they have the temerity to support free market capitalism, and though they are Libertarians, they occasionally donate to Republican causes. They are also generous and prominent philanthropists, donating wings to hospitals, hundreds of millions to cancer research, for example. They help fund some some organizations and foundations, some purely educational, some partisan, none Progressive — and that’s the problem.
In this particular case, they were encouraging the predominately poor students at Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas to enroll in a new, yearlong course “that would provide lessons in basic economic principles and practical instruction on starting a business. Students would receive generous financial incentives including startup capital and scholarships after graduation.” How scary is that?
In some ways, the class looked like a typical high school business course, taught in a Highland Park classroom by a Highland Park teacher. But it was actually run by Youth Entrepreneurs, a nonprofit group created and funded primarily by Charles G. Koch, the billionaire chairman of Koch Industries.
The official mission of Youth Entrepreneurs is to provide kids with “business and entrepreneurial education and experiences that help them prosper and become contributing members of society.” The underlying goal of the program, however, is to impart Koch’s radical free-market ideology to teenagers. In the last school year, the class reached more than 1,000 students across Kansas and Missouri.
Intrepid reporters acquired lesson plans and class materials. They are teaching the kids such subversive things as low taxes and less regulation allow people to prosper, raising the minimum wage hurts workers and slows economic growth. Public assistance harms the poor. Government, in short, is the enemy of liberty. Good Lord! Did you ever hear anything so subversive? Even the headline says “How the Koch Brothers are Buying Their Way Into The Mind of Public School Students.” The Left really hates the Koch Brothers.
Apparently Charles Koch had a hands-on role in the design of the high school curriculum directly reviewing the work of those responsible for setting up the course. (Since he was paying for it, hardly surprising) The goal, the group admitted, was to turn young people into “liberty-advancing agents” before they went to college, where they might learn “harmful” liberal ideas.
The reporters astonishment at the deeply partisan ideas of liberty and free markets is interesting. Clearly they have not had much familiarity with such ideas. Here’s a good example complete with plentiful scare quotes.
They aimed to “inoculate” students against liberal ideas by assigning them to read passages from socialist and Marxist writers, whom they called “bad guys.” These readings would then be compared to works by the “good guys” — free-market economists like Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises.
The Koch Foundation is doing some good work. It’s hard to rise if you cannot see a path ahead. The free market is what has made America not only free, but prosperous. The astonishment and negative attitude of the reporters tells a sad story of the many schools run by the social justice warriors. Corporations are evil, and all good things must be done by the power of government.
Here’s a list from the article of the wrongheaded ideas of these subversive billionaires.
In late 2009, the Koch group made a list of “common economic fallacies” that they believed should be repudiated. These included:
- Corporatism v. Free-market Capitalism
- Deregulation is what caused recession in 80s, Economic problems of today
- Rich get richer at the expense of the poor
- FDR/New Deal brought us out of the depression
- Government wealth transfer programs help the poor
- Private industry incapable of doing functions that public sector has always done
- Unions protect the employees
- People with the same job title should be paid the same amount
- Minimum wage, “living wage,” laws are good for people/society
- Capitalist societies provide an environment for greed and materialism to flourish
- Socialist countries do just fine, people have great lives there (using this as proof that socialism works).
Shocking! Giving kids a boost up with lessons in free market capitalism. Do read the whole thing. It is a vision of the leftist mind at work.
NOTE: This post has been revised since first posted. Somehow when I posted it, it lost the first two paragraphs — I was still sleepy I guess.
Filed under: Capitalism, Conservatism, Economics, Economy, Free Markets, Freedom, Heartwarming, National Security, Politics, The United States | Tags: New Hampshire Campaign Stop, Nice Response!, Senator Marco Rubio
A campaign stop in New Hampshire, and Marco Rubio has a very nice response to a question from an 11 year old girl. Would be nice to see a lot more of this on the campaign trail.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Europe, Free Markets, Freedom, Law, Politics, Regulation, Science/Technology, United Kingdom | Tags: CFLs - hallogens - LEDs, Crony Capitalism, MIT Researchers
The incandescent light bulb. Gone, but not forgotten
— February 28, 2014 Popular Mechanics
Incandescent era, RIP. Like it or not, it’s time to move on. Traditional incandescent lightbulbs are gone—not banned, precisely, but phased out because the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), passed in 2007, requires them to be about 25 percent more efficient. That’s impossible to achieve without decreasing their luminous flux (brightness), so, instead, manufacturers have shifted to more energy-efficient technologies, such as compact fluorescents (CFLs), halogens, and LEDs.
Wikipedia has a page entitled “Phase-out of incandescent light bulbs” the first sentence says: “Governments Have Passed Measures”
Governments around the world have passed measures to phase out incandescent light bulbs for general lighting in favor of more energy-efficient lighting alternatives.
This one was really a case of crony capitalism or a couple of very large corporations who used the power of government to force Americans to buy a new product that cost up to 10 times more than the old reliable bulbs. The profit margin on the new bulbs is significantly higher. Any environmental benefits were largely hooey, but the manufacturers got to pretend they were “saving the planet.”
The problem was that nobody liked the replacements, and the environmentalists insisted that the bulbs had to be disposed of in an environmentally friendly way. I don’t know about you, but the recycling enthusiasts are going way too far, and I can see a reckoning coming. People just wanted their friendly, cheap, satisfactory bulbs back.
The people may win. Scientists at MIT believe they may have come up with a solution which could see incandescent bulbs return to the marketplace — better and cheaper and more efficient.
MIT researchers have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass, they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat — while still allowing the light to come through. They call the technique “recycling light” because the energy that would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light. “It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted.”
Traditional incandescent bulbs are only about five percent efficient with 95 percent of the energy lost to the atmosphere. LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. Scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent, achieving near-ideal rendering of colors.
If the new bulbs live up to expectations they would cost far less than the hated LEDs and CFL bulbs. Researchers have warned that the blue light emitted by modern bulbs could be stopping people from getting to sleep at night and there have been concerns about the dangerous chemicals they contain.
Luboš Motl explains the physics at the reference frame, for those who want more details, and there’s a picture of the prototype — which isn’t the bulb pictured above.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Free Markets, Freedom, Progressivism, Taxes | Tags: Free Market Capitalism, The Federal Debt, Wealth and Poverty
Our wealthiest citizens, the top 20% of the economic pie, pay 70% of all taxes. The poorest 20% pay 3/5ths of one percent of all taxes. So we have to raise taxes on the wealthiest citizens to be “fair” or “balanced.”
There is, however, a problem. If you confiscate the entire wealth of the richest citizens — every penny the Forbes 400 have — it would cover one year’s federal deficit.
Raising tax rates on everyone in the top 2% of the wealthiest citizens would not cover one year’s federal deficit.
Washington borrows $188 million every hour.
I wrote this down a while back, I’m not sure just how long ago, but I can assure you that nothing has improved. Food for thought.
— “How You, I, and Everyone Got the Top 1 percent All Wrong“ by Derek Thompson, The Atlantic
— “Obama orchestrated a massive transfer of wealth to the 1 percent,” by Matthew Gray, New York Post
There is, of course, an answer. Wealth is created by the free market and capitalism. Free people are endlessly inventive, and the hope of improving your financial situation, making a new idea the next big thing, becomes in a free market the opportunity to succeed. Where did Uber come from? Or telephones unconnected to phone lines that are actually tiny computers keeping track of everything and entertaining you as well?
Getting rich or richer, improving your situation, or changing your life is commonplace in America, yet in many parts of the world it is impossible to move beyond the status into which you were born. I cannot understand why the Left cannot think beyond “income inequality.” They are still stuck back in the French revolution railing against the opulence of the King and all his court. “It’s not fair” they whine.
Some people simply want to get rich — that probably accounts for all the Powerball tickets sold. Some want to accomplish something worthwhile. Some want to move to a better neighborhood. Some want to build something important, others want to discover something new. If you know or are convinced that you can never move beyond where you are — I guess envy is all you have left.
Filed under: Australia, Bureaucracy, Education, Environment, Freedom, Heartwarming, Politics, Science/Technology | Tags: Australian Marine Geologist, Emeritus Professor Bob Carter, James Cook University
Dr. Bob Carter died of a massive heart attack at age 74. He was an environmental scientist and emeritus professor from James Cook University. He was the author of more than 100 scientific papers, and served as the Chair of the Earth Sciences Discipline Panel of the Australian Research Council.
When the Greens were panicking over the oceans turning acid, he laughed and remarked that as long as there are rocks in the ocean, that won’t happen.
From Anthony Watts:
I traveled with Bob in Australia during my tour in 2010. To say that he was a man of good cheer and resilience would be an understatement. He not only bore the slings and arrows thrown his way by some of the ugliest people in the climate debate, he reciprocated with professionalism and honor, refusing to let them drag him into the quagmire of climate ugliness we have seen from so many climate activists.His duty, first and foremost was to truth. I’m reminded of this quote:“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.” ― Isaac AsimovBob worked hard to dispel scientific ignorance, and to do it with respect and good cheer. We’ve all lost a great friend and a champion of truth.