Filed under: Domestic Policy, Economy, Liberalism, Democrat Corruption, Progressivism, Taxes, Capitalism, Regulation | Tags: Economic Stress, The Value of Work, The Essentials of Subsistence
Kevin Williamson had a splendid essay in National Review on Saturday, entitled “Men at Work: Revisiting the alienation of labor.”
Unemployment at the individual level often is traumatic: Economic stress is difficult in and of itself, but it also can disturb family life, may lead to isolation from one’s friends and community, and may provide an occasion for shame, even when that shame is unjustified. Because we are the richest people that human civilization ever has seen, there is no reason for anyone to go wanting for the mere essentials of subsistence; because we are the richest people human civilization ever has seen, it is very difficult to be satisfied with the mere essentials of subsistence. …
If we assume that these workers can count, and we assume that they know their own affairs, then the conclusion is not simply — never simply! — that “more than 2 million people will decide not to work,” but that the wage paid by this particular manifestation of the welfare state (in the form of insurance subsidies) is better than the wage on offer for doing work.
With one hand, the state puts downward pressure on wages — especially for those at the bottom end of the earnings spectrum, who are, by economic definition, those regarded by their employers as most easily replaced, and who therefore bring relatively little negotiating power to the table. With the other hand, the same state inflates the wages of non-work, not only through the new health-care law but through various other manifestations of the welfare state, including the ever-longer extension of unemployment payments. We are sometimes scandalized to learn that these programs spend a great deal of money on people who do not really need them. That is the minor scandal. The major scandal is that so many people do need these programs. …
The diversity of human interests, human desires, and human abilities is in effect infinite, and so too, therefore, are the uses of labor and opportunities for employment. Surely there are many paths to a “right livelihood” waiting to be discovered. And yet there sits official Washington, along with its supramarginal gurus in the media, trying to figure out how to “create jobs” like an ape doing one of those monochromatic jigsaw puzzles with half the pieces missing, desperately working at “manipulating the world in order to get what we want from it,” forcing together pieces that do not fit.
And that is the perverse price of politics: that there are so few jobs to be had when there is so much work to be done.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Progressivism, Regulation, Taxes | Tags: Hurts American Incomes, January Jobs Numbers, ObamaCare Kills Jobs
Perhaps the gales of laughter have reached ears in the White House. Can you possibly believe that they didn’t know that people would find their insistence that losing a job was liberating and you would no longer be locked in a job and could write poems or make music. In any case, people do not seem to be feeling “liberated” by the lack of jobs.
The January job numbers were dismal. Spinning 113,000 gains in hiring is not too hard, because anything over 100,000 sounds like a positive, but back to back gains in hiring were the weakest in three years. The 48,000 rebound in construction probably reflects a bounce-back from weather-depressed readings in December. The fall in the unemployment rate reflects, not more people hired, but more people dropping out of the work force.
ObamaCare will reduce the incomes of most Americans. It will redistribute wealth, but the redistribution will be stunningly lopsided. According to a study from the liberal Bookings Institution ObamaCare will increase the income of Americans in the lowest 20 percent of the income scale — especially in the lowest 10 percent. But all other income groups, even those who make modest incomes in the $25,000 range will experience a decline in income because of ObamaCare. It will increase income by 9.2 percent for those in the lowest bracket. For everybody else, it will reduce their income by about 0.9 percent.
Republicans have argued all along that the ACA would end up costing the economy jobs, and the cost would be enormous. Previously the CBO’s cost estimate came to $848 billion over its first decade, but that has now grown to more than $2 trillion. The claimed deficit neutrality of ObamaCare was a myth which the GOP said it was all along. The CBO does not predict the number of job switchers or “free agents” It projects the net reduction in hours worked in the American economy — and that projects lower tax revenues— for a system that relies on tax revenues for the subsidies that keep their fantasy going.
A reduction of 2.5 million FTEs from ObamaCare would result in a reduction of $80.5 billion each year in gross compensation, even at the low-income average of $35,000 a year. That means less economic activity and lower tax revenues, thanks to the decrease in income that the loss of 2.5 million FTEs entail— no matter how they disappear. The greatest effect will be on the working middle class — just the folks Obama claims to want to help the most.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Health Care, Liberalism, Politics, Progressivism, The Constitution | Tags: "Left 3.0", Explaining the Mindset, Mental Morbitity
Tod Lindberg had been editor of the Hoover Institutions’ Policy Review since 1999, and important articles are a given. This piece from the last issue of Policy Review one year ago, which attempts to distinguish the current version of the Left from its previous iterations is particularly fascinating. He calls it Left 3.0. I’m always a ready-made audience for anything explaining the Left, because it seems so inexplicable that they can possibly think as they do.
Mr. Lindberg does not attempt a history of the Left. You’ve probably noticed the changes, but not really focused on what’s different.
The Left side of the American political spectrum has undergone an extraordinary transformation over the last dozen years. Perhaps because it remains a work in progress, the extent of this transformation has gone largely unremarked and seems underappreciated even among those who have been carrying it out. Forty years after the forces of the “New Left” managed to deliver the Democratic presidential nomination to their preferred candidate, George McGovern, only to see him lose the general election to Richard Nixon in a 49-state landslide, the United States is home to a newer Left. It’s political hopes repose not in a man able to muster less than 40 percent of the vote nationwide, but in the convincingly reelected president of the United States, Barack Obama. This newer Left is confident in itself, united both in its description of the problems the country faces and in how to go about addressing them. This Left is conscious of itself as a movement, and believes it is on the rise. It has already managed to reshape American politics, and its successes so far have hardly exhausted its promise. Policies are changing under its influence. And it opponents do not seem to have found an effective way to counter it politically. …
If classical liberalism emerged in part as a rebellion against hereditary privilege, modern American liberalism is foremost a rebellion against the privileges of wealth. The most important innovation of the Left, a principle held fast from the time of the French Revolution onward, has been its insistence that political rights could only be meaningful if accompanied by a degree of economic equality that systems based on political rights alone would not automatically create or protect. …
Implementation of the animating passion for equality requires the power of government. The Left shares the suspicion of government power at the hear of classical liberalism, but only up to a point. Individuals need rights to protect them from overweening government intrusion, true, but government power in the proper hands can do good, and indeed the proper hands must wield the power of government in order to do the good of pursuing equality. The proper hands are the Left’s, it hardly needs saying.
Mix yourself a good stiff drink, and take the time to figure out just what the Left is up to. Excellent article, altering and illuminating the other side of the political spectrum.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Election 2014, Freedom, Law, Liberalism, Regulation, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: electoral fraud, Honest Elections, Truing the Vote
The IRS scandals consist of the agency’s attempts to deny targeted Tea Party groups and other identifiably conservative groups tax exempt 501(c)(3) and 501 (c)(4) status in advance of the 2012 election.
The new rules they are attempting to put in force are designed to redefine that which has been described as “tax exempt” so narrowly that no political speech can be defined as tax exempt.
Why is this a big deal? The Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets.org website reports that conservative groups pumped nearly eight times the money through their 501 (c) groups than liberals did. CRP reported that conservatives spent $265.2 million through 501 (c) groups compared to $34.7 spent by liberal groups during the 2012 cycle.
Well, we certainly can’t have that. Something must be done. Are the Democrats unable to win elections honestly? That is entirely possible. Here in Washington State, we have had regular cases of stolen elections.
Did you hear about the “Secretary of State Project”— that was a project to elect Democrats to the office of Secretary of State, because that office is in charge of elections. In 2012, the plane carrying military ballots supposedly crashed, making the ballots unavailable, except there were never any pictures or further information about those lost in the crash. Once the votes are in, they keep finding a bunch of “uncounted” ballots. Our elections have gone to all mail-in ballots, which we are told make electoral fraud much easier.
Early voting is another major problem. The Obama administration and Democratic organizations are pushing it hard— more convenience for voters, but voters fill out their ballots before the campaign is over, with incomplete information. Spreading it out enables a party to get the results they desire.
There are all sorts of ways to fraudulently change the results of an election. I suppose it is inevitable when there is so much power on offer. But I wish it were different and elections were honest, reflecting the true wishes of the public.
Filed under: Politics, Domestic Policy, Economy, Liberalism, News the Media Doesn't Want You to Hear, Democrat Corruption | Tags: Corruption At The IRS, Malfeasance and Incompetence, Corruption Spreads
Powerline has today a letter from William Henck who has worked in the IRS Office of the General Counsel as an attorney for over 26 years. Powerline says:
Although it goes over some old ground, we submit the following personal account by Mr. Henck for the consideration of readers in the context of current controversies without further comment. He writes:
I have been an attorney in the IRS Office of Chief Counsel for over 26 years. Over a number of years, I have attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to alert the public to abuse within the IRS. One of my kids suggested that I contact a blog and Power Line has graciously agreed to publish this account.
I do not personally know whether the IRS has targeted conservative groups or individuals, but I do know that the environment within the agency is ripe for such activity and there is nothing to prevent it from occurring. As stated in more detail below, I have personally witnessed improper giveaways of billions of dollars to taxpayers with inside access at the agency, bullying of elderly taxpayers, the cover-up of managerial embezzlement and misappropriation of thousands of dollars in government funds, and a retaliatory audit. I have also heard credible accounts of, among other things, further improper giveaways, blatant sexual harassment, and anti-Semitism. All of these matters have been swept under the rug.
Do read the whole thing. It sheds a bit of light on all the controversy about the IRS targeting of conservative groups. As I’m sure you have heard Mr. Obama say, it is simply a phony controversy, nothing to see here, just move along. The problem is that Ms. Lerner kind of blew that to smithereens with her attempt to plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid incriminating herself.
Corruption in government is no small thing. It spreads. Public sector unions are much to blame. When a miscreant can no longer be fired, government’s ability to have an ethical agency is ended. And the damage goes on from that.
When Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York City, he had enormous success with his “broken windows theory” of policing. You take care of the small things like graffiti, turnstile jumping, and the attention to the small things shows that you are going to take care of the bigger ones. He made a big difference in crime in New York.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Law, Liberalism, Statism | Tags: The Congressional Budget Office, The Affordable Care Act, Incentives Matter
The Congressional Budget Office says that ObamaCare will increase unemployment. There are 7.8 million Americans working part-time who want full-time work. Mr. Obama changed the subject to raising the minimum wage.
On Tuesday no less than the Congressional Budget Office reported that the health law is causing Americans to work less or not at all, in a remarkable intellectual turnabout for the budget shop that Democrats cited repeatedly when selling ObamaCare. Now CBO—full of liberal-leaning economists—says the economy will lose the equivalent of two million full-time workers by 2017 and 2.5 million over the next decade, a threefold increase over its prior estimate.
ObamaCare’s complex design includes new subsidies, new taxes and new mandates. For low wage, lower-skilled or discouraged workers ObamaCare offers incentives that can force them to trade jobs for entitlement benefits. The CBO concludes that ObamaCare will encourage people to supply less labor by working fewer hours to qualify for more benefits. The incentives suggest watching carefully the overtime, a promotion or training in hopes of higher future earnings — it might boost you into another category with less or no subsidy. The question becomes how many people can the nation support on entitlements? I thought the numbers were already too high.
The CBO’s job-loss prediction doe not include the impact of ObamaCare’s employer mandate, which requires businesses with 50 or more full-time employees to offer insurance or pay a $2,000 penalty for each worker beyond 30 employees. The mandate has been delayed by executive order for a year. so it won’t take effect till 2015, which probably means the CBO is vastly underestimating job losses.
The White House, of course, denies everything. “Claims that the Affordable Care Act hurts jobs are simply belied by the facts in the CBO report,” the White House, in the person of Jay Carney, declared. The White House seems to mean that the report is positive because”individuals will be empowered to make choices about their own lives and livelihoods” and “have the opportunity to pursue their dreams.” Didn’t Nancy Pelosi suggest that they would have more time to do art or crafts or maybe music?
Incentives matter. People respond to incentives. And there’s nothing in the act that encourages businesses to hire more workers and be more competitive. Like “if you like your doctor,” it may include “If you like your job…” The law is a job destroyer that is taking away rungs from the ladder of upward economic mobility.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Election 2014, Humor, Liberalism, News of the Weird, Politics | Tags: Embarrassment, Free Birth Control, Outstanding Headline
From Jammie Wearing Fools: ” Woman Who Can’t Afford Her Own Birth Control Scrapes Up Money to File for Congressional Run.”
Surely you remember Sandra Fluke (rhymes with Cluck) who appeared before the nation in a pretend Congressional hearing, set up to look as if it was official after the committee in question (I can’t remember which committee) refused to have her as a witness since they didn’t think she had any testimony worth hearing.
Her testimony was a protracted whine about the vast expense of contraceptives which she thought taxpayers should pay for so she didn’t have to. It emerged that a month’s supply was available for around $9.00, which made her demand that taxpayers spring for it seem remarkably silly. But silly me. There it is in ObamaCare, and everybody is paying for it. If you wonder why you can no longer see your doctor, or afford health care — it’s because the Democrats stuck in all sorts of little goodies to reach favored voting groups, in this case radical feminists.
With the retirement of Henry Waxman, Ms. Fluke has filed with the California state Democratic Party to seek its endorsement in the race for the Waxman seat. She has not yet officially announced her campaign, nor filed with the Federal Election Commission. But California is known for some of the dumbest women in Congress, so why not? The idea that someone should work their way up in politics seems to have gone by the wayside. Experience is no longer necessary.
Jammie adds: “Just what Congress needs, another attention whore.”
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Health Care, Liberalism, Politics | Tags: Economic Ignorance, Incentives Matter, Medical Device Tax
Another comment on changing times: In 2012 and in 2013, roughly $34 billion went into venture capital deals in the United States. The cities were what you would expect, Silicon Valley, Boston, Austin, Seattle, New York and Los Angeles. Innovation is fast and varied.
One sector that is seeing a rapid drop in investment is in healthcare and devices. ObamaCare has a big medical device tax buried in it, and money has pulled back from taking a risk in healthcare while ObamaCare gets sorted out. Once again, it is all about incentives. When you tax something, you will get less of it. What Obama is taxing is not “devices” — but innovation.
What this appears to relate to is a vague idea that insurance companies are greedy rip-offs, doctors get paid way too much and hospitals charge outrageous amounts for an aspirin — which seems to be the impetus behind ObamaCare. That is, a bunch of people, with no qualifications for the job, have devised regulations — the impact of which they do not understand — for a business, the workings of which they do not understand in the slightest.
Next time you are in a doctor’s office or in the hospital, assuming it’s routine, look around and count up the “devices,” from the stethoscope around the doctor’s neck, to the examination table, the sink, the thermometer and blood pressure monitor to the $1 million CT scanner or the $4 million radiation machine. Take a serious look at one of the Stryker hospital beds.
Consider the absurdity of developing a new government-run health care plan — because health care costs too much, (a health care plan that actually increases cost and decreases care), that increases the cost of everything used by the medical profession with a tax on each item — and then expects costs to go down in the future because of medical innovation.
Hospitals across the country are engaged in cutting costs wherever they can. This will have the inevitable effect of gradually diminishing quality and care. The incentives for the medical establishment become how to get adequately paid for their services. The incentive for the government is reducing costs in a system in which they have guaranteed a rising spiral of expense.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Immigration, Law, Liberalism, Politics, Regulation | Tags: Hiring Decisions, STEM jobs, White House Decisions
When a business wants to hire someone, they would prefer someone who has done the same job previously and successfully. Someone who wants to step up to your company. They would be charming, have an excellent resume, excellent academic record with good grades in an applicable field, and a stunning list of notable accomplishments. Good luck with that.
There is a cost to a bad hiring decision. According to a study by the Society for Human Resources Management, it could cost up to five times a bad hire’s annual salary. The higher the person’s position and the longer they remain in that position, the more it will cost to replace him or her. Recruiters say that if you make a mistake in hiring and recognize the mistake within six months, the cost of replacing that employee is still going to cost two and one-half times the person’s salary.
For every two students that U.S. colleges graduate with STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) only one is hired into a STEM job. Half of all graduates are not hired into STEM positions. Thirty-two percent say it is because IT jobs are unavailable, 53 percent say they found better job opportunities outside of IT occupations. These responses suggest that the supply is larger than the demand for them in industry. The annual inflow of guestworkers amounts to one-third to one-half the number of all new IT job holders, in spite of stagnant or declining wages.
The immigration debate is complicated and polarizing, but the implications of the data for enacting high-skill guestworker policy are clear: Immigration policies that facilitate large flows of guestworkers will supply labor at wages that are too low to induce significant increases in supply from the domestic workforce.
Only about of a third of the IT workforce has an IT-related degree. 36 percent of IT workers do not hold a college degree at all. Only 24 percent of IT workers have a four-year computer science or math degree. But then, Bill Gates was famously a college dropout. I searched for “hiring tests for high tech jobs,” and the variety of tests — aptitude, skill, social, drugs, personality — and some companies have devised their own tests of intelligence and thinking to weed out the unsuitable.
Meantime, the government is stepping in to promote “fairness.” The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has said it will crack down on employers who use the criminal histories of job applicants to discriminate against them illegally. The EEOC’s new guidance requires companies to establish procedures to show they are not using criminal records to discriminate by race or national origin. There’s some leeway for criminal convictions that are “job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.”
President Obama on Friday formally announced a deal with some of the nation’s largest companies to institute new hiring practices that do not “disadvantage” those who have been jobless for several months or longer.
Companies such as AT&T, Apple, Wal-Mart, Ford and others have agreed to the president’s initiative which will also extend to the federal government and its interview process.
They just need that chance, somebody who will look past that stretch of unemployment, put in context of the fact that we went through the worst financial and economic crisis in our lifetime which created a group of folks who were unemployed longer than normal,” Mr. Obama. “All they need is a fair shot … giving up on the unemployed will create a drag on our economy we cannot tolerate.
The agreement means that companies will not favor one prospective employee over another based solely on the length of time each has been unemployed. On Tuesday Mr. Obama used executive power to hike the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 for all federal contractors.
President Obama’s closest adviser and liaison with corporate America is Valerie Jarrett, although she has no knowledge or experience to help her understand the concerns of those with whom she is dealing. Financial sector insiders and corporate executives reportedly stopped having meetings with the White House because any such meetings were pointless. They found that Ms. Jarrett was interested only in pushing the administration’s agenda, rather than engaging in any kind of dialogue about how to foster better economic growth. But the White House does not want input, nor do they want to work with business. They want obedience.
If you want to know why the recession has dragged on so long, why the economy has not come roaring back, the answers are all to be found here. Everything is best fixed by a government policy emanating from the White House. They know better, and don’t have to listen to the people.
Filed under: Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Liberalism | Tags: 80 Means-tested Programs, Economic Mobility, Poverty in America
Fifty years ago this month, Lyndon Baines Johnson stood before the U.S. Congress and, in his State of the Union address, declared, “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” So how did that work out? The poverty rate has fallen from 19 percent to 15 percent in two generations, but not exactly a roaring success. But then there are many ways to measure poverty, and what does it mean to be poor in America anyway? Some studies have shown that the poor in America live better than the average European.
Current poverty has little resemblance to poverty 50 years ago. According to a variety of government sources including the census, the typical American living below the poverty level in 2013 lives in a house or apartment that is in good repair, equipped with air conditioning and cable TV. His home is larger than that of the average non-poor French, German or Englishman. He has a car, multiple color TVs and a DVD player. More than half have computers and a third have wide, flat screen TVs. The overwhelming majority are not undernourished and did not suffer from hunger for even one day of the previous year.
We have spent over $20.7 trillion in attempting to reduce poverty, but we are still talking about “the poverty rate,” rather than the numbers of people who have been moved out of poverty to become gainfully employed and self-supporting. We don’t know if these are the same people over time, or if we are talking about significant mobility or a sheer lack of mobility. The American dream has always been about mobility, and I have known numbers of people who have moved from poverty to wealth — largely because they didn’t like being poor and were very determined to move up, and did so.
We have all sorts of programs that represent a generous safety net. Schools now offer not only lunch, but often breakfast and dinner too for kids. We don’t want kids to go hungry and many school districts just offer free meals for everyone since it’s easier than distinguishing. One of the great incentives for escaping poverty has always been shame, but the liberal idea of poverty is that no one should feed bad about accepting food stamps, help with the rent or housing, aid to families with dependent children, free health care, and free Obama phones.
The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs that provide cash, food, housing, medical care and social services to poor and low-income Americans. The government spent $916 billion on these programs in 2012 alone. Federal welfare spending, adjusted for inflation is 16 times greater than it was in 1964. If it was converted to cash, current means-tested spending is five times the amount needed to eliminate all official poverty in the U.S. Couldn’t we just send them a check, and dump the bureaucracy involved?
The census defines a family as poor based on income level but does not count welfare benefits as income. So government means-tested spending can grow infinitely while the poverty rate remains unchanged.
LBJ intended to give poor Americans “opportunity, not doles.” One vast mistake was to give exactly the same benefits to unwed mothers as to married or widowed single mothers. It sounds like just fairness, but the incentives kept pregnant young women from marrying the father of their child. There are all sorts of anti-marriage incentives within welfare programs. Currently benefits are sharply cut if a mother marries a working father. Benefits are cut when a recipient goes to work, even if the salary is less than the benefit. The incentives are all wrong, and incentives matter.
The government is increasingly using its coercive powers to punish people who want to work, creating a vast class of able-bodied Americans who are dependent on the government — and their own politician — for their benefits. A smaller proportion of working-age Americans works today than when the recession officially ended 4½ years ago. The do-gooders who want to help want to increase the minimum wage, which the evidence shows is an unemployment act particularly for young people whose unemployment rates have skyrocketed. Extended unemployment benefits keep people from vigorously pursuing a job. How do you help people— tough love or enabling with generosity?
Every major city that is a center of poverty is run by Democrats: St. Louis, MO (26%), Detroit, MI (36.2%), Newark, NJ (26.1%), Cincinnati, OH (27.4%), Philadelphia, PA (28%), Milwaukee, WI (29.9%), Buffalo, NY (29.9%), El Paso, TX (25%), Cleveland, OH (36%),and Camden, NJ (42.5%)— cities who have had Democrat administrations for years and years.
Paul Ryan argues that government must tackle the causes of poverty, instead of perpetuating it by funding its symptoms. “We focus on how much money we spend. Instead, we should focus on results. We should focus on how many people get off public assistance — because they have a good job.”