American Elephants


The Red Tape Is Far More Than Annoying — It Has a More Sinister Purpose by The Elephant's Child

0314_CuttingRedTape_770
In a previous post, I linked to an essay by Myron Magnet from City Journal titled “Why are Voters So Angry,” and I added my usual “Do read the whole thing,” but most of you didn’t (I can tell because WordPress tells me how many clicked on each link). So I’m posting another  link and urging you to read the whole essay once again.

The problem is the Administrative State. Socialists, who abound on the Left, have given up on the government’s owning the means of production (and thereby enriching themselves). They have realized that they don’t have to own America’s businesses, they can just control them with government regulation. And their control is far advanced, and nobody seems to recognize just what is happening.

Myron Magnet starts at the beginning and explains just how we have lost control of our government and what we need to do about it. Most adults not part of the Loony Left recognize that socialism is not a good form of government, and ends up as Venezuela, Cuba or Stalinist Russia, in hunger and poverty and desperation. Most adults excludes, of course the Bernie-worshiping Millennials who don’t know about Venezuelans starving and dying without medicine, and just think he’s kind of cute with his great shock of white hair.

But if we cease to enshrine American exceptionalism at the heart of our culture—if we set equal value on such Third World cultural tendencies as passive resignation, fatalism, superstition, devaluation of learning, resentment of imaginary plots by the powerful, and a belief that gratification deferred is gratification forgone—the exceptionalism of our institutions becomes all the more precarious.

Supercharging American anger over illegal immigration and its consequences is the politically correct ban on openly discussing it, with even the most reasoned reservation dismissed as racism and yahooism. And political correctness generates its own quantum of anger among citizens, who think of freedom of speech and debate as central to American exceptionalism. But elite culture stigmatizes plain speaking, so that now a rapist or a murderer is a “person who committed a crime” or an “individual who was incarcerated,” says the Obama Department of Justice, or, according to the latest humbug from the Department of Education, a “justice-involved individual.” Implicit in these euphemisms is the theory that “society,” not the criminal, is to blame for crime, a long-exploded idea aimed at blurring the distinction between right and wrong.

Well, there you go. That’s what I have just been going on about. Here we are in a mortal battle for the future of our country with candidates we hardly would have chosen as our champions. Hillary has essentially promised to continue Obama’s current drift into catastrophe, if only we will allow her to be America’s first woman something or other, and Donald Trump who has recognized the anger and frustration and answered it  with a burst of pure populism.

Jobs are created by the private sector, which makes the economy grow. Jobs created by the federal government just mean another cost to the taxpayers for agencies that cannot fulfill the task assigned to the agency. I’m not sure I can find an agency without a scandal attached. They are paid 78% more than their counterparts in the private sector, and there isn’t really enough work for them to do. The average federal employee earns about $119,000 annually, including salary and benefits, compared to $67,000 for the private sector. And they are receiving that generous compensation for plastering the private sector with so many regulations and so much red tape that the private sector cannot provide the engine of free market capitalism at which they have been so successful.

Read Myron Magnet’s essay on the Administrative State, and pass it on to family and friends. It is important that people realize what is happening to our country. Unfortunately the Left’s big ideas don’t work in the long term, or did you think that those quaint old cars in the Castro’s Cuba were there as theater for the tourists?



The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West. by The Elephant's Child

From The Devil’s Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh.
“The Cult of Critical Theory and the Subversion of the West”

Dissent, they say, is the highest form of patriotism.

As for “the highest form of patriotism,” all that ever meant was that the Left did not wish to have its patriotism questioned while it was busily going about the process of undermining the existing order (in order to create a better one of course). Not only was its patriotism questionable, it was nonexistent. The patriotism the ’60’s radicals praised was not the patriotism of the past (now dismissed as “jingoism”) but the patriotism of the America of the Future, the new State that would come into being once the old one had been destroyed and replaced with the Brave New World they were cooking up in poly-sci test tubes on campuses across the country.

Any leftist will tell you, usually indirectly as he may not admit it to himself, that he does not admire the world as it is but esteems the world as he wishes it to be. That few agree with leftists when this proposition is so bluntly stated simply means they must conceal it for the time being, until it can be forced on an unwilling but sullen public. They see themselves as inheritors of a noble tradition, perhaps best summed up by the composer Gustav Mahler when he declared, “My time will yet come.” They look to the judgment of posterity, not history. The very fact of being against something—it doesn’t matter much what—contributes to their sense of moral superiority, without which they are nothing.

This last is crucial to the understanding of the Unholy Left: that they consider themselves, like the Puritans they otherwise execrate, the party of the Elect, the Blessed. Likewise, they consider resistant conservatives—those who like things more or less the way they are, who trust the judgments of their ancestors and honor their wisdom and experience—to be the Damned who must be brought into the Light—that is to say, into the Darkness.

In her convention speech, Michelle Obama said:”Barack stood up that day, talking about a visit to Chicago neighborhoods, and spoke words that have stayed with me ever since. … All of us are driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do, that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.”

One would think that with the prominent examples of Cuba and Venezuela the idea of Socialism should be thoroughly discredited, but even starvation doesn’t sway the morally superior minds of the Left. They just didn’t do it right.

I like this quotation from Holman Jenkins:
‘It turns out government cannot spare us from having to adapt
and compete in an economy.’

 



The Danger of the “Black Lives Matter” Movement. by The Elephant's Child

da3-905x604
From City Journal “No Equivalence” by Bob McManus, July 8 2016.

Much remains to be learned about the why and the how of Thursday night’s massacre in Dallas, but there is scant mystery about the what: at least 11 police officers were calmly marked for execution for no other reason than that they were cops. When the firing was over, five lay dead and the remainder wounded—some gravely.

To the untrained eye, the attack appears to have been well-planned and carried out with precision. In this respect, it was fundamentally different than the events that brought hundreds of demonstrators to downtown Dallas Thursday—the police-custody deaths of black men in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and St. Paul, Minnesota, in a welter of chaos, confusion, and conflicting claims of guilt, innocence, and intent.

Baton Rouge and St. Paul, like so many of the similarly tragic police-custody deaths that preceded them, may have been the product of circumstance, or of incompetence, or maybe they were even crimes. Each must be examined in context and judged accordingly. But Dallas was cold-blooded murder—nothing more, nothing less. Attempts to assign equivalence to the horror of it—to suggest, as some are doing on social media, that Dallas is somehow just deserts for Baton Rouge or St. Paul or Baltimore or Ferguson, or even for Eric Garner’s death on Staten Island two long years ago—is morally repugnant.

Nor can this be blamed on guns. Guns are inanimate objects and don’t go around shooting people. It is the shooter who is the problem, not the gun. So far in 2016, 34 police officers have been murdered in the line of duty, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, most by gunfire and others by vehicular assault. Many more have been wounded.

When officers are killed in the line of duty, other officers on patrol become more cautious. It’s only natural, they have families and want to go home at night.

For the media, America is in the grip of an orgy of crime, and wanton murder. These wanton murderers are wearing blue uniforms and police badges. It makes for exciting bylines and good copy. But it’s not true.

White policemen shooting unarmed black men accounted for less than 4 percent of fatal police shooting. In three quarters of  shooting incidents, cops were either under attack themselves or defending civilians, as the policemen in Dallas were doing — trying to protect civilian demonstrators.

According to the Department of Justice, blacks represent 12.6 percent of the population, but committed 52.5 percent of the murders in America from 1980 to 2008. This is not to say that there are not bad cops and killings that call for investigation and jury trials. The worst neighborhoods in Chicago, where gangs run wild, have a higher murder rate than world murder capitals like Honduras. (116.7 per 100,000 compared to 90.4 per 100,000).

Barack Obama has encouraged racial animus from the beginning in an effort to secure the black vote for Democrats. It’s what he did as a community organizer. That he wanted to assure black votes is not arguable; that he wanted to stoke black fears of racist police is unknown, though that is what has happened.

Black Lives Matter was launched in 2013 with a Twitter hashtag after neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. It was founded by radical Left activists, and has gone on to stir up resentment against “the system”  on college campuses across the country, responding to phony “hate” crimes, and increase demands for revolution and racial separation. Another outgrowth of communist/socialist agitation.

Heather MacDonald has been one of the most important voices in explaining American policing and the current attack on law and order. I would urge you to read her whole piece, from Imprimis.



The Media Shreds Hillary Clinton After the FBI Report On Her Email Conduct by The Elephant's Child



Obama is Dismantling Medicare by The Elephant's Child

Modern medicine has been a blessing for seniors. Before Medicare, old folks ended up in nursing homes or in wheelchairs with crippling illnesses. Now more seniors are able to get hip and knee replacements, cataract operations and heart procedures to spare them some of the worst parts of aging. And they are living longer. The American Journal of Public Health reported that a man turning 65 can expect to live 5 years longer than he would have in 1970.

The Obama administration has, as usual with the left, included lots of unnecessary goodies in order to get people to sign up with ObamaCare and Medicare. And with Medicare, they carefully eliminated many of the features that controlled costs and encouraged older folks to use it more carefully.  The so-called “donut hole” was designed as an incentive for seniors to use cheaper generic drugs instead of name-brands when they were equivalent.  It worked very successfully. Obama eliminated that.

Medicare has always faced the problem of the sheer numbers of retiring baby boomers, which has meant trouble for Medicare finances. Under the guise of “reform,” President Obama is dooming seniors to disability, needless pain and shortening their lives.

Hillary, economically clueless, is proposing to open Medicare to people in their 50s, so younger, healthier people would be competing with seniors for resources. Brilliant.

Obama, under the pretense of “reform,” is issuing a 962 page of new Medicare regulations. The reforms will make it harder for seniors to get joint replacements. New payment rules will shortchange doctors, discouraging them from accepting Medicare in the first place — which is already a problem. Hospitals will get bonuses for spending less on each senior patient, despite having higher death and infection rates. Seeing Medicare patients will be a money loser.

Because of new regulations on how doctors treat patients (the feds know better than the doctors) doctors spend time completing reports for the government. They spend their time with the patient glued to a computer screen instead of interacting with patients.

“Doctors who want to provide individualized care” will have to “either opt out of Medicare or simply not comply,” explains Richard Amerling, past president of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons.

Obama’s rules are “far too complex and burdensome to be workable for most physicians,” warns John Halamka, a Harvard medical professor.

The new rules also make seeing Medicare patients a money loser. Annual fee increases for doctors are capped at a fraction of 1 percent — even though rents and other costs go up every year.

No wonder nine out of 10 solo practitioners admit they’ll avoid Medicare patients — right when 10,000 new baby boomers are joining each day.

Old folks with cancer will be in trouble. Doctors administering chemotherapy are getting a pay cut and told to choose the cheapest drug, regardless of what medication is best for the patient. Seniors needing knee and hip replacements likely to need rehab may have to settle for painkillers instead.

The administration claims the rules reward quality instead of quantity, but that’s a lie. Betsy McCaughey says that five of the hospitals who had the worst scores on patient outcomes — who get more infections and die sooner from heart problems and pneumonia than at other hospitals — have all gotten bonuses from Medicare because they are low spenders.

Remember the 2012 campaign when Obama accused Republicans or plotting to “end Medicare as we know it” and a video depicted a Republican pushing Granny’s wheelchair off a cliff?  Nasty and false claims, but now the Democrats are pushing America’s seniors off a cliff indeed.

Obama has made several remarks indicating that medical care is more important  for the young, who have more years ahead of them, than having expense wasted on the old, who could depend on pain killers instead. It would be a lot less offensive if he were not at the same time wanting to insure the votes of young women by promising free contraceptives to all, although they cost so little  few would have a hard time paying.

In a free competitive market, competition brings prices down, and the promise of profit makes people have new ideas, and take the risk to make them work. The Left despises the free market, and wants ever more control. They believe that they have the best ideas and they just need to be put to work. And if they aren’t working, new and more regulation will fix things. It’s a war of Individualism versus Collectivism — or Freedom versus Socialism. Perhaps you have noticed that they are starving in Venezuela and being killed in food riots. And their hospitals have no medicine, no antibiotics and no pain pills either.



The Private Sector Fires Incompetents. The Feds Reward Them! by The Elephant's Child

medium
It was only a day or two ago that I wrote “The federal government has too many people working for the government, and there isn’t enough work for them to do. Government workers make 78%  more for comparable jobs, according to Cato. They call themselves “public servants,” but they don’t mean it. When they start to think of the U.S. Constitution as an impediment rather than a guarantee that the government belongs to the people and the public servants are there to work for us, not the other way around, we’re in trouble. So here we are.”

Federal workers make on average nearly twice as much as those in the private sector, but government employee unions want a pay increase more than three times larger than President Barack Obama proposed.
The American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, American Postal Workers’ Union and 20 other unions representing federal workers sent a letter to Congress seeking a 5.3 percent pay hike next year. President Obama proposed a 1.6 percent raise.

How about a 10% pay cut to bring them more into line with the rest of the country?  If you include benefits, the average federal employee earns about $119,000 annually, including salary and benefits compared to the private sector average of $67,000. (an October 2015 study by the Cato Institute) If you add in health care and pensions, it’s even a bigger gap.

federal-worker-pay-2

All the workers in the federal government are, according to the federal government — above average. This rating of worker performance is clearly absurd, as anyone who has ever had contact with a federal bureaucrat can attest. But a review of federal worker performance ratings by the GAO found that 99.5% of them got a “fully successful” rating or above. More than a third were given the highest rating of “outstanding.” At the other end of the ratings only 0.4% were rated as “minimally successful” and 0.1% as “unacceptable.”

Don’t everybody rush to get a government job at once. These “fully successful” workers “blew $2 billion on a botch Healthcare.gov website, made more than $100 billion in overpayments to go to government beneficiaries, run the TSA, fired veterans unto deadly wait lists for care, allowed their databases to be hacked, spent over 10 years and $1 billion trying to digitize 100 immigration forms only to get just one done.” And the list goes on — and on.

It is not just hard to fire a federal employee, but nearly impossible to rate them as anything less than “fully successful.” A manager who does must spend significant time developing performance improvement plans. Workers who don’t get a gold star can and do appeal their ratings by filing a union grievance with the Merit Systems Protection Board. That may be another agency we could do without.

The private sector has a direct financial interest in weeding out bad apples, and accurately assessing worker performance. Those incentives just don’t exist in the government. Failure usually results in bigger budgets and more money.

Republicans talk a lot about reducing the size and scope of the federal government. You haven’t been paying attention. They mean it, but they need encouragement, lots of it, because it is very hard to do. And needs doing very badly.

Save

Save



We the People of the United States of America — are Pretty Ticked-Off by The Elephant's Child

House_of_representatives

—Over at Powerline, John Hinderaker asked rhetorically “Why are Liberals so Hateful?” Good question. James Taranto pulled up a 2010 piece from Charles Krauthammer, to explain why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting. Krauthammer finds a pattern:

— Promiscuous charges of bigotry are precisely how our current rulers and their vast media auxiliary react to an obstreperous citizenry that insists on incorrect thinking.

— Resistance to the vast expansion of government power, intrusiveness and debt, as represented by the Tea Party movement? Why, racist resentment toward a black president.

— Disgust and alarm with the federal government’s unwillingness to curb illegal immigration, as crystallized in the Arizona law? Nativism.

— Opposition to the most radical redefinition of marriage in human history, as expressed in Proposition 8 in California? Homophobia.

Taranto says: Krauthammer portrays this as a cynical game: “Note what connects these issues. In every one, liberals have lost the argument in the court of public opinion. . . . What’s a liberal to do? Pull out the bigotry charge, the trump that preempts debate and gives no credit to the seriousness and substance of the contrary argument.”

Because their motives are pure, their intellectual superiority and managing expertise entitle them to rule over the rest of us ignorant, backward, stupid, religious nuts, and clinging intolerant bigots.

We daily hear about “the elites” and “the working class”— where do they get that? The “elites” naturally include as the cognitive elite the nation’s reporters, columnists and scribes. Businessmen are not really part of the elite—they are more apt to be included in “Wall Street” or excluded as manufacturers. We do have some wealthy playboys (and girls) but most everybody else supposedly works for a living, yet “the working class” are those who perhaps went to trade school or do those “dirty jobs” that Mike Rowe built into a successful career,( with some very good advice for future members of the employed ranks.) That leaves rather a large segment of the American public who actually do work for a living, enjoy it at least part of the time, and feel good about putting supper on the table and enjoying a movie now and then—out of the picture as — what, unmentionables?

Are BREXIT and Trump and all the international anger about being sneeringly called “the working class” when we are obviously more than a little short of work? Unemployment is a big problem in the EU as well as here. Holman Jenkins, business columnist for the Wall Street Journal remarked recently:  “It turns out government cannot spare us collectively from having to adapt and compete in an economy.”

The Left, in their headlong race towards what they conceive to be a more perfect world, when they get the rest of us bullied into shape, simply do not grasp basic human nature. We are flawed creatures, imperfect, and human nature is not perfectible. At the end of their relentless drive towards an imaginary utopia is — Venezuela, or Cuba, or Auschwitz or the Gulag.

Well, no wonder they think of themselves as an “elite.”The federal government has too many people working for the government, and there isn’t enough work for them to do. Government workers make 78% more than the private sector for comparable jobs according to Cato. They call themselves “public servants,” but they don’t mean it. When they start to think of the U.S. Constitution as an impediment rather than a guarantee that the government belongs to the people and the public servants are there to work for us, not the other way around, we’re in trouble. So here we are.

I think it was Mike Lofgren, author of The Deep State, who captured the essence of Leftist discourse: “Take offense, call your opponent names, refuse to let them speak, decline to debate.”

That pretty much covers it.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,616 other followers

%d bloggers like this: