Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, History, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Jobs & Unemployment Are #!, Most Important US Problems, Obama's Biggest Worry is Inequality
A new Gallup poll this month shows that nearly one in four Americans cites jobs and unemployment as the most important problem facing the country, up from 16% in January. The government and politicians had topped the list since the government shutdown in October.
The Recent Trend in top Five “Most Important” U.S. Problems
Economy in General……………………………………………..20%
Dissatisfaction with government/Congress/politicians’
poor leadership/corruption/ abuse of power…………………19%
Poor healthcare/hospitals; high cost of healthcare…………..15%
Federal Budget deficit/ Federal debt……………………………8%
Ethics/Moral/Religious/Family decline, dishonesty…………….5%
Education/Poor Education/Access to Education………………4%
Lack of Money……………………………………………………3%
What is one to make of this? We have just been informed that Americans are getting dumber and dumber, that they are unaware that the Earth orbits the sun. Jimmy Fallon did a man in the street thing asking people how they felt about President Roosevelt’s death, and did they want to send condolences to Eleanor?
Democrats were significantly less concerned about everything but jobs and unemployment. Republicans were unsurprisingly concerned more than Independents and Democrats about the economy, healthcare, Federal budget deficit and debt, morals and ethics. Democrats were slightly more concerned about education and poverty, hunger and homelessness.
General satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States was a sluggish 22%.
Curiously, President Obama’s priorities are quite different. He’s trying really hard to deflect interest from ObamaCare, which in spite of all sorts of “executive repairs” isn’t working. His biggest priority seems to be Income Inequality. What he doesn’t want to mention is how much money the government is redistributing, nor how much more would be needed to close the income gap. That project would require redistribution on a massive scale. The CBO found that those in the bottom fifth of the income scale received $9.62 in federal spending for every $1 they paid in federal taxes of all kinds. People with low incomes pay little in taxes, but receive a lot of transfers.
Households in the top fifth, received 17¢ in federal spending for every $1 they paid in all federal taxes. High-income households pay a huge amount in taxes compared to what they get back in government spending. The middle class households received $1.19 in government spending for every $1 they received in federal taxes.
Families in the top fifth have an average market income of $311,400 and pay $65,573 more in taxes than they receive in spending. We would need to take another $164,227 in higher taxes to lower their incomes to the national average.
“Capital will go where it is wanted and stay where it is well treated. It will flee from manipulation or onerous regulation of its value or use and no government power can restrain it for long.”
President Obama’s other major priority seems to be global warming, which doesn’t even show up in the public’s interest, with some justification, because most people are probably wondering if this is the start on a new ice age. There has been no warming for over 17 years. The President talks about “carbon pollution, but there is no such thing. We are a carbon-based species. CO2 is a natural fertilizer that helps plants to grow. Carbon is one of the building blocks of life. No carbon, no life.
Obviously Mr. Obama does not read Gallup polls, nor would he pay attention if he did. He apparently swallowed the Keynesian fairy dust tale — hook, line and sinker. If you want to boost the economy, you push money into the economy. It will have a magical mystery multiplication effect, somehow, and every dollar spent will result in two dollars of economic activity. If you tell him that it doesn’t work, he will say it’s wrong to compare this recovery to past recoveries. Greatest recession since the Great Depression, Bush’s fault, etc., etc., etc.
Filed under: Freedom, History, Politics, Taxes, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: "Silent Cal", The 30th President, The Roaring Twenties
“It is a great advantage to a president, and a major source of
safety to the country, for him to know he is not a great man.”
Do you recognize this man? This is Calvin Coolidge. He inherited the position of chief executive when scandal-plagued President Warren Harding died in office in August, 1923. He was elected in his own right in 1924. Amity Schlaes’ new biography, titled simply Coolidge, highlights some of the achievements the nation enjoyed during Coolidge’s time in the White House.
Under Coolidge, the top income tax rate came down by half, to 25 percent. Under Coolidge, the federal budget was always in surplus. Under Coolidge, unemployment was 5 percent or even 3 percent. Under Coolidge, Americans wired their homes for electricity and bought their first cars or household appliances on credit. Under Coolidge, the economy grew strongly, even as the federal government shrank.
Under Coolidge, the rates of patent applications and patents granted increased dramatically. Under Coolidge, there came no federal antilynching law, but lynchings themselves became less frequent and Ku Klux Klan membership dropped by millions. Under Coolidge, a man from a town without a railroad station, America moved from the road into the air.
After he won a full term, Coolidge pressed Congress for tax cuts. The top income tax rate was reduced from the wartime 70 to 25%. The economy burst into robust economic growth. Now we call it “the Roaring Twenties.” That helped Coolidge achieve budget surpluses every year — surpluses that he used to pay down the national debt.
He also said:
“Don’t expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.”
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Freedom, History, Media Bias, News, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: Critical Information Needs?, No Longer a Free Press, Press Freedom Index
As the Obama administration has degraded American and world trust in our institutions, each new downgrade seems more ordinary and unexceptional and less surprising. So it is that Reporters Without Borders released its annual World Press Freedom Index the other day. Those of us who still believe in a strong, independent and above all a free press found it disheartening. Who would be surprised that China, Syria and North Korea inhabit the bottom layer at the rankings of press freedom? One would think that the explosion of new sources, and vast new channels of information would increase freedom.
The United States of America has slipped in the fifth year of Obama’s reign by thirteen spots to 46th in the world — right between Rumania and Haiti. That fall is based largely on the Obama administration’s remarkably determined efforts to curb dissent, to plug and track down leaks, and control the press.
Obama brought with him from Chicago a kind of governance to which we are unaccustomed. The Obama administration leaks profusely with the news they want out. This is normal, all administrations work at getting out that which they want to get out. But no president wants to hear surprises from the media. No administration in memory, however, has gone to such lengths to control the press, control leaks and punish those who are uncooperative.
The Democrats are facing an upcoming election this fall in the looming shadow of the ObamaCare Disaster. The Left is deeply involved, at every level, in pretending that all is well, or will be well — tomorrow. Obama’s signature achievement cannot fail. And they will go to whatever ends they must to make sure that it does work.
The Tea Party is deeply frightening to the Left. Obama told Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly that the IRS scandal of attempting to intimidate and derail conservative groups as merely some “bone-head decisions” by confused local agents, without even a “smidgen” of corruption. The president portrayed himself as a victim of Fox News’ efforts to harp on the case, to drive its own anti-administration agenda. Nine months back, he denounced the same affair as an outrage, and promised a thorough investigation.
Now that the media is firmly under control, The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will launch this Spring a nationwide “study” of newsroom values, priorities and processes to see if they meet a list of government “critical information needs.” This will also involve print media over which the FCC has previously had no authority whatsoever under the Constitution.
The FCC will place “researchers” in U.S. newsrooms, supposedly to learn about how editorial decisions are made. They will invade radio, television and even newspaper newsrooms. It is called the “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs.” They’re always good at coming up with innocuous-sounding names. I mean what could be more innocuous than “the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act?” And look where that’s gotten us.
Remember when the government seized Associated Press phone records, and tailed the mother of a Fox News reporter? That flared up for a bit, briefly, but there was “nothing to see there, just move along,” and it vanished down the memory hole.
The media has noticed that the administration can be somewhat assertive in waving around the vast power and majesty of the government of the United States of America. The media may not write about it, but they notice when the automobile industry is taken over by the federal government, and when Gibson Guitars is shut down and all their instruments and supplies are removed. Did you think there was pride in a free press? Not much and no courage.
The National Association of Broadcasters said the FCC “should reconsider” “qualitative” sections of its study, it wrote. Um, powerful statement.
Ajit Pai, a commissioner with the FCC, warned in a Wall Street Journal op-ed (pay-wall) that under the rationale of increasing minority representation in newsrooms, the FCC, which has the power to issue or not issue broadcasting licenses would seek “voluntary” compliance about how news stories are decided, as well as “wade into office politics” looking for angry reporters whose story ideas were rejected as evidence of a shutout of minority views. Pai questioned if such a study could really be voluntary given FCC’s conflict of interest.
News agencies ought to be screaming bloody murder, but the boat must not be rocked. The Obama administration has a record of going after its opponents. Race and minority status come in very handy. That’s why our press has dropped 13 places to a disgraceful 46th on the ranking of press freedom.
The Left is still seething over the failure of the defunct Fairness Doctrine. Their goal is to win. It’s that simple. They’ve had a taste of success and they won’t give up.
Filed under: Education, History, Science/Technology | Tags: A Mammoth Tusk, A Seattle Construction Site, Ten Thousand Years Ago
Local news: A tusk, believed to be from an Ice Age mammoth, was found Tuesday at a South Lake Union construction project. The tusk was found on private property, so the landowner will decide what to do with it, but the Burke Museum paleontologists are very interested in excavating it. It’s a good way to learn a little more about what is under Seattle’s fabled seven hills and the bluest skies bit. (both are fables—there were bits of blue today and the temperature hit 58°). The Seattle Times said:
Mammoths and their ancient elephant elephant relative, mastodons, inhabited the ice-free lands of North America. Mammoths arrived from Asia about 2 million years ago, while mastodons lived in North America from about 15 million to 9,000 years ago. Both became extinct as the glaciers started receding at the end of the Ice Age, between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago.
Some mammoths grew to 12 feet at the shoulder, their tusks curved down from the face and then upwards at the ends. They chewed grass with large, flat teeth similar to elephant’s teeth.
Mammoth fossils have been found in various locations around the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, for those unfamiliar with the area, borders on Puget Sound to the West, and lies between the Sound and Lake Washington on the East which borders Bellevue on the West, then Lake Sammamish on the East. Lake Union is a smaller affair, connecting the Sound and Lake Washington with locks and canals.
(photo: Jeff Estep/Transit Plumbing)
Filed under: History, Law, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Governor Jay Inslee, Making Up The Law, President Barack Obama
Unintended consequences. Someone speaks, or takes an action, advocates a policy, and aside from the immediate political response, the world shifts a little, and all you can do is hope that if there are unintended consequences, they will not be too bad. President Obama famously said “he has a phone and he has a pen” and even today, announced at Monticello that “He is President of the United States and he can do whatever he wants to.”
That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. There is the oath of office, and a long history of presidential terms in office, and the assumption that a president, any president, will struggle mightily to do the right thing for the people of the United States. Why else did he run for office? President Obama had something quite different in mind. He ran a nebulous campaign full of theatrics and empty words like “yes we can” and “we are the ones,” and people fell for it. But finding that now that he no longer has a Democrat-controlled Congress, but has to actually attempt to debate, discuss and compromise with Republicans in the House, like a petulant child, he announces that he will not compromise on anything, but will just act independently— with his pen and his phone.
Well, if the President of the United States can just act on his own, why not governors? Why do we need laws and customs and rules and tradition? Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, noted empty suit, has decided that while he is in office “During my term we will not be executing people.” He has the authority under RCW 10.10.120to commute a death sentence to life in prison at hard labor, and upon a petition from the offender, to pardon the offender, or to offer a reprieve which is to be issued “for good cause shown, and as the Governor thinks proper.”
Washington State does not have a particularly high murder rate with the exception of a couple of really bad serial killers. Ted Bundy’s case was famous. But the one that raised questions about the death penalty was that of the “Green River Killer,” Gary L. Ridgway. King County prosecutors gave up on capitol punishment in exchange for his cooperation with providing details that helped solve dozens of open murder cases. He pleaded guilty to 48 counts of aggravated first-degree murder in 2003 and was sentenced to life in prison. Forty-eight murders seemed like a good reason for a death penalty, though there were 48 families who deserved some kind of closure.
Governor Inslee’s actions are again reminiscent of President Obama’s efforts to escape blame for anything. Inslee doesn’t want to be blamed for any executions, and will shove them off on his successor.
Filed under: Capitalism, Economy, Freedom, Heartwarming, History, Military | Tags: Character, The White House, United States Marines
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, History, Liberalism, Politics, Statism | Tags: 50 Years of Failure, Lyndon Baines Johnson, The War on Poverty
There has been much talk this week of Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.” It has been 50 years, a half-century, since the federal government declared “an unconditional war” on poverty. Another lost war. The original goal as LBJ stated it was “to give our fellow citizens a fair chance to develop their own capacities.” And there’s the rub.
Fifty years later, fifteen percent of Americans still live in poverty, according to the official 2012 census report. Liberals argue that we aren’t spending enough money fighting poverty. Yet the federal government runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and targeted social services to poor and low-income Americans. The federal government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012, and about 100 million Americans received aid from at least one of them, at an average cost of $9,000 per recipient. That figure does not include Social Security or Medicare benefits. Welfare spending by the federal government and the states, adjusted for inflation, is 16 times greater than it was in 1964.Converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all “official” poverty in the United States.
Poverty today bears little resemblance to poverty 50 years ago. The typical American living below the poverty level in 2013 lives in a house or apartment in good repair, equipped with air conditioning and cable TV. The home is larger than the home of the average non-poor Frenchman, German or Englishman. He has a car, more than one color TV and a DVD player. More than half have computers and a third have wide flat-screen TVs. They are not undernourished and did not suffer from hunger even once the previous year.
LBJ intended to give the poor opportunity, and shrink welfare dependence, not expand it. By that standard the “war” has been a colossal failure. The root-causes have expanded and labor-force participation among men has dropped. A large percentage are less capable of escaping poverty than when the war began. Children raised in single-parent homes are more likely to face social and behavioral problems, and three times more likely to end up in jail, and 50% more likely to be poor as adults.
The incentives in welfare discourage marriage, current programs cut benefits sharply if a mother marries a working father. A single parent going to work may lose all benefits even though their pay is less than the benefits were. All programs should encourage marriage and families. Kids need parents and a father in the home. The government should require able-bodied, working-age adults to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving benefits.
America needs to have a safety net, but able-bodied adults should work. Dependence is not healthy, and Liberals often want to give people benefits in the assumption that they are doing good. Politicians believe that generous benefits create grateful voters for their political party. But that is putting politics before the health of the nation. Surely that wouldn’t be the aim.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Education, Election 2014, History, Law, Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: Eliminating Tea Party Opposition, IRS Targeting Continues, Winning Elections
Republicans are arguing — as usual — about who is a Conservative, an Establishment Republican, a Moderate, a RHINO, a Tea Party member, a Libertarian, and who is the right representative of the right side of the political spectrum. And not just that — but who is conservative enough — call it the purity test.
Republicans are arguing about ideas, principles and policies, what is Constitutional and what is not. They are furiously writing blogs, op-eds, books, tweets and deluging their members of Congress with their opinions, worries and anger.
Democrats, on the other hand, are focused intently and exclusively on winning the next election. That’s what Democrats do. They have gone to great pains to insist that they knew nothing about any IRS targeting of 501 (c)(4) conservative nonprofits before the 2012 election. The IRS has claimed, um, mismanagement, ever so sorry, all fixed now. The FBI has obediently said that criminal charges will not be filed, nothing to see here, and no, we didn’t find it necessary to interview any of the 501(c)(4) groups who were targeted by the IRS. We just knew that there couldn’t be any criminal act here. This is your federal government.
That taken care of, the Democrats have been at even greater pains this week to ensure that the same conservative groups are silenced in the 2014 midterms. Kim Strassel explains in the Wall Street Journal:
That’s the big, dirty secret of the omnibus negotiations. As one of the only bills destined to pass this year, the omnibus was—behind the scenes—a flurry of horse trading. One of the biggest fights was over GOP efforts to include language to stop the IRS from instituting a new round of 501(c)(4) targeting. The White House is so counting on the tax agency to muzzle its political opponents that it willingly sacrificed any manner of its own priorities to keep the muzzle in place.
The Treasury Department 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 again IRS targeting, this time by administration design and with the straightforward political goal of putting tea party groups out of business, according to House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI).
Kim Strassel says according to her sources, Democrats had their own priorities, but “went all in” on keeping the IRS rule, even if it meant losing their own plans. Mr. Camp’s committee notes that Treasury appears to have combed through the list of previously targeted Tea Party groups, compiled a list of their main activities and then restricted those functions. The White House is using the IRS to win an election this fall.
Democrats have been alarmed by the Tea Party. They are unaccustomed to Republicans as activists, speaking out, picketing, holding demonstrations. The idea of ordinary Americans uniting in opposition to the policies of the administration is really scary. Who knows what they might do next? Treasury is going to great lengths to keep secret the process behind the rule which is directed only at 501(c)(4) social-welfare groups. Mr.Obama’s union foot soldiers who file as 501(c)(5) can continue to play politics.
Democrats freely admit that they have no principles, but act on circumstances. Their policies have not done too well, and ObamaCare has awakened the nation to that fact. They have, however, gone to great lengths to make sure they win elections by fair means or foul.
There was the “Secretary of State Project” designed to elect Democrats to that office in every state, because that was the officer in charge of elections. There is the ongoing effort to claim that asking a voter to show picture ID to prove their identity and their eligibility to vote is racist, and make it unlawful to require such identification. Here in Washington State where vote fraud has been a way of life, we now vote by mail, which makes fraud much easier, and voter ID more difficult to confirm.
If your only goal is winning, you don’t have to worry about the effect of your policies on the nation. That is becoming significantly apparent.
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Iran, National Security, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Ayotollah Khomeini, Peace With Terrorists, The 60s Revisited
The headline at the Weekly Standard was “Yoko Ono vs. Ayatollah Khomeini.”
It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be challenging, but ultimately this is how diplomacy should work.”
“If Iran is willing to walk through the door of opportunity that’s presented to them” then the country and its people will benefit.
“If they fail to walk through this door of opportunity, then we are in position to reverse the interim agreement and put in place additional pressure to make sure that Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.”
“My preference is for peace and diplomacy, and this is one of the reasons why I’ve sent the message to Congress that now is not the time for us to impose new sanctions, now is the time for us to allow the diplomats and technical experts to do their work.”
“What we want to do is give diplomacy a chance, and give peace a chance.”
The Iranians said that America was being secretly run by a bunch of Nazi space aliens who control the government. Really.
Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Energy, Foreign Policy, Health Care, History, Junk Science, Politics, The Constitution | Tags: Policies Based On Mistaken Logic, Progressive Fallacies, The Fallacy of Big Government
I am constantly fascinated by language, and the extent to which we use it to confuse or elucidate, to sway minds and to get our way. We have terms for three of the things that can go awry:
- Unintended consequences —nobody knew that if you did this, that would happen. Pretty straightforward. Sometimes one side has warned about the consequences, but the other denied that it would happen.
- Paradox — A seemingly contradictory statement that may nevertheless be true. Hegel: “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.” To be thoroughly confused, consult Wikipedia’s paradox page.
- Fallacy — An idea or opinion founded on mistaken logic or perception, a false notion. This is the word that describes the entire Obama administration, and the specific reason that there has been no real economic recovery.
President Obama made it clear from the first that he believed the Iraq War was a “dumb war,” and the only reason for being in Afghanistan was to “get” Osama bin Laden. When bin Laden was killed, Obama clearly believed that al Qaeda had been defeated, and was “on the run.” This was mistaken logic, and al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah, and is resurgent throughout the Middle East.
President Obama was sure that spending lots of stimulus money on infrastructure would create the jobs that were needed to restore the economy to prosperity. He discovered that “all those shovel-ready jobs weren’t really shovel ready”.
He was determined to kill two birds with one stone and create green jobs while also saving the earth from global warming. There weren’t really any “green jobs,” the installers came from the manufacturers, and they tried to cover up the lack by labeling janitors, bus drivers, garbage men and secretaries in energy installations as “green jobs,” but that didn’t work. Unemployed men were trained for so-called “green jobs” in government jobs programs like installing insulation, but discovered that to be a competitive field in most communities, who didn’t need additional employees. And the globe hasn’t been warming for over 17 years.
It turned out that green energy merely raised the cost of power, was as inclined to pollute as much demonized petroleum. We have Solyndra, and dozens and dozens of other bankrupt green-energy companies. Electric cars caught fire or turned into bricks, or cost so much that only multi-millionaires could afford to buy the federally subsidized cars. The EPA pushed 15% ethanol in gasoline that would destroy many car engines, and ruin small engines like boats or lawnmowers.
The more you look, the more fallacies you find. The Keystone XL pipeline offers 20,000 direct jobs, and thousands of spin-off jobs. Obama announces a new effort to create jobs, yet refuses to approve the project, which annoys our most important trading partner, and may send the energy to China.
Obama announces a pivot to jobs, while his Environmental Protection Agency is churning out regulations that kill jobs. We have had five years of fallacy.We hired a president who had no experience at running anything, no experience in managing anything. The people with whom he surrounds himself in the White House are as new and inexperienced as the president himself. Their ideas are founded on mistaken logic or perception.
Fallacy. They don’t know what they are doing, and while they may mean well, they lack understanding of the consequences of their actions. In today’s news are more studies that show that giving people insurance — Medicaid for the uninsured — actually significantly increases their use of emergency rooms, raising health care costs rather than saving money.
But we knew that. That was the experience of Romney Care in Massachusetts — the health care the Obama administration liked to pretend they were copying. A complete fallacy in itself. As a policy is put into practice, it collapses or fails to work due to it’s own internal misconceptions.