American Elephants


Why Do They Never Learn? Socialism Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

BN-KA013_venloo_J_20150825170528How is it possible, in a world that has demonstrated so clearly that Socialism simply does not work, to have a candidate for the office of President of the United States who is an avowed socialist? Barack Obama may not adopt the label, but his efforts to expand government control over ever more of the economy, to regulate American lives, and to strive for more redistribution of wealth and “social justice” or forced equality have no relation to free markets and free people.

Democrats’ big ideas aren’t working. Detroit, under Democratic governance has declined from America’s richest city to a cesspool of poverty. New York, cleaned up under Rudy Giuliani, has declined into crime again, and New Yorkers are not only complaining, but becoming fearful.

San Francisco, designated as a “sanctuary city,” has that designation to thank for the murder of Kate Steinle by an illegal alien who had been deported over and over.  In 1994, the voters approved a “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law which led to  overcrowded prisons. The Supreme Court in 2009 ordered the state to reduce the prison population to 137.5 percent of design capacity, or one inmate per cell.

That led to Prop 47, which reduced many felonies to misdemeanors, and an 50,000 reduction in the prison population and a rise in crime. The responsibility for incarcerating prisons was turned over to local sheriffs. Neighborhood are not as safe. People are moving out of California in droves. Yet “Black Lives Matter” is a very real drive to blame the high murder rate in inner city neighborhoods on policing. There are always unintended consequences.

Social justice in California has led to a wealthy coastal corridor and poverty in the rest of the state.

If the failure of Democrats’ ideas of social justice utopias in America don’t convince you, let’s turn to the newly-reopened embassy in Havana. Obama said that if 50 years of isolating Cuba had not worked, we should try something else. But precisely what does he mean by hadn’t worked? Cuba is a poverty stricken country where the people have to line up for bread, the 1950’s era cars are not there because they are quaint and picturesque, but because that’s all they have. Fidel Castro, on the other hand has been listed in Forbes as one of the world’s richest men. A lot of arms dealing, narco-terrorism, that sort of thing. Viva  la revolucion!

Obama’s big idea seems to be that if America just stops being the big bully, throwing our weight around, and offers our helping hand in peace, while removing all sanctions and barriers, then they will reciprocate because they care about their people and their children. Unfortunately, no they don’t.

In Venezuela, it’s all falling apart. Socialism is in a death spiral. The people have to stand in line for hours to buy ordinary staples like corn flour or laundry soap. Looting and violence are on the rise in supermarkets, but there’s nothing on the shelves anyway. No toilet paper, food shortages, people are going hungry.    There are fights when delivery trucks arrive with chicken or milk. The break-even price for Venezuelan oil is estimated to be $151 per barrel.  Today’s  price for Brent crude   is $47.10.

Supporters of the ruling Socialist Party note that the network of subsidized state-run grocery stores created by late president Hugo Chavez and financed by plentiful oil revenue helped reduce poverty and hunger during his 1999-2013 rule.

Typically, the late  Hugo Chavez’s  second-eldest daughter  may be the wealthiest woman in Venezuela. Maria Gabriela Chavez reportedly has stashed away a cool $4.2 billion in American and Andorran banks according to Diario las Americas. The ruling class typically does pretty well.

Hugo Chavez  was, after Fidel Castro, the tin pot dictator most admired by Democrats in Hollywood and Washington.

When Senator Bernie Sanders describes himself as a socialist,his critics point to such experiments as Cuba and North Korea, but they explain, no, no Democratic socialism. Socialism does not work.

Nicholas Maduro has been cracking down for years on newspapers, radio, any source of free speech. You cannot have free speech and a socialist government. Have you not noticed the Obama administration’s attacks on free speech?

Venezuelans are running out of food, and starvation is possible. Medicines, even the most usual kinds are unavailable. Everything the Maduro government does makes things worse.

Armed soldiers monitor supermarkets as part of an effort the president calls “Operation People’s Liberation.”

The picture is simply one of the lines for non-existent food in Venezuela.

 



2.3 Million Medical Identities Have Been Stolen From ObamaCare’s Required Computerization of Hospitals and Doctors’ Offices by The Elephant's Child

Radiologist_in_San_Diego_CA_2010

Perhaps you remember back when the Democrats were pushing ObamaCare through Congress and nobody had read it, but they were sure it was going to be wonderful. They would put the brightest and most educated people in charge of your insurance, and open new agencies and add new regulations and it would be ever so much more efficient and bring prices down, and if you liked your doctor you could keep your doctor, and everything would cost 20% less. Uh huh.

One of the big ideas that was going to save great quantities of money and make everything more streamlined was to put everyone’s medical records online. Computerized records meant each doctor and nurse or technician could quickly access your full records.

So anybody and everybody in any clinic or hospital could access a patient’s entire medical history? Unintended consequences! Republicans cried. Identity theft, accessing prescriptions, dangerous, not well thought out.

Democrats never understand consequences, particularly anticipating what they might be, and taking care to think things through.

It has taken hospitals years to get each examination room and office outfitted with a computer with a stand and a keyboard that doesn’t take up much room, yet is networked with the whole local medical complex, and it has cost them millions. My hospital finally has it all completed and working efficiently though it has taken several years. Doctors now commune with the computer instead of the patient, but the computer doesn’t complain about aches and pains.

The problem is that each hospital or medical complex hired their own computer experts and paid millions for their systems and getting them up and working — but they don’t work together with other hospitals and clinics and complexes who had different experts do their systems.

The big idea that there would be one national system where the wise and powerful government could access all those records to see what the statistics from the whole country pouring in to Washington would teach them about the real health of the people and what could and should be done. Quite a few people weren’t so sure that Washington DC was any solution to the national health anyway.

Not going to happen in any case. I’d love to see a total on how much this bright idea cost the nation’s hospitals. Unintended consequences indeed!

What has happened and what will happen is exactly as they were warned: 2.3 million  (2,317,969) medical identities have been stolen. Thieves are using others’ insurance information to pay for their own medical visits or drugs. Most victims do not find out about the theft until an average three months later. Or when they notice unusual charges on their billing statement. The Poneman Institute said:

Unlike credit card fraud, victims of medical identity theft in our study had to pay an average of $13,500 to resolve the crime. In some cases, they paid the healthcare provider, repaid the insurer for services obtained by the thief, or they engaged an identity service provider or legal counsel to help resolve the incident and prevent future fraud.

More than $10,000 to pay because someone stole your medical identity? Better check with your medical provider or local hospital to see what they are doing about the problem.



Now That He as Fixed the Middle East, Obama Intends to “Fix” America by The Elephant's Child

suburbs2

Fresh off abjectly surrendering to the mullahs in Iraq, Obama has reverted to full Community Organizer. His broadest attempt to “fundamentally transform the United States of America”is a plan known as “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (AFFH) which will require the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to gather data on the economic and racial makeup of each ZIP code, by the numbers, to disclose whether the numbers display “disparate impact” that requires “fixing.”

The trouble is that Obama knows so much that isn’t so. HUD’s own study explains why this will not work, and advised against expecting better results from a larger or more aggressive relocation program. But Liberals are always true believers in their cherished programs and are sure that a larger or more aggressive relocation program will do it. HUD is pitching the program as a plan to “diversify” America.

“HUD is working with communities across the country to fulfill the promise of equal opportunity for all,” a spokeswoman for the agency explained. “The proposed policy seeks to break down barriers to access to opportunity in communities supported by HUD funds.”

The effort calls for HUD to set aside taxpayer funds to upgrade poorer communities with amenities such as better schools, parks, libraries, grocery stores and transportation routes as a means of gentrifying those communities. It also calls for using grant money to build affordable housing in wealthy neighborhoods. Ultimately however, as it is with virtually every facet of the leftist agenda, it’s a naked power grab: the Obama administration is holding certain housing funds hostage to a city’s efforts to determine patterns of segregation in various neighborhoods and submit plans to address those patterns. Cities that refuse to do so would have funds used to improve blighted areas withheld.

Community organizers have been sure that the reason that poor blacks cannot get home loans to move into better neighborhoods is due to racial discrimination rather than lousy credit history. Democrats insistence on forcing banks to make home loans to poor African Americans who could not pay them back was the cause of the  “worst recession since the Great Recession of the 1930s” as Obama liked to describe it.

Leftist civil rights advocates who invariably worship at the altar of greater government control are thrilled, insisting decades of housing policy have “trapped” poor people in bad neighborhoods, depriving them of better lives. “This rule is not about forcing anyone to live anywhere they don’t want to,” said Margery Turner, senior vice president of the left-leaning Urban Institute. “It’s really about addressing long-standing practices that prevent people from living where they want to.

Uh huh. The federal government is forcing low-income families to move to more expensive neighborhoods, offering housing vouchers worth up to $1,800 a month, and cutting their subsidies if they don’t want to move. The vouchers were created in the 1970s to force low-income families to get out of their neighborhoods, but that effort largely failed, and they remain in their low income neighborhoods. If given a voucher, they usually buy better quality housing in the same neighborhood. Surprise! People want to stay where their friends and relatives are.

Officials concluded the subsidies they were offering previously were too small, so in the Dallas experiment and in some other added regions, they upped the value of the vouchers. In the cheapest zip codes, HUD cut housing subsidies to a maximum of $850 a month, but in the most expensive zip codes they increased them to a current maximum of $1,840.

And possibly they don’t want to be told by the government where they must live.

In a companion “Fair Housing Assessment Tool,” HUD counts “land use and zoning laws, such as minimum lot sizes, limits on multi-unit properties, height limits, or bedroom-number limits as well as requirements for special use permits (and) occupancy restrictions” among “factors contributing to segregated housing patterns.”

Foes point to Westchester County, N.Y., as an example of how HUD seeks to control suburban zoning and building. HUD has withheld $17 million in funds from the tony community after it failed to build several hundred affordable-housing units under federal order.

The hard Left’s utopian dreams of making everybody equal (except for themselves, of course, who will run things) means removing the wealth from the successful, and giving it to the poor. No more suburbs — all will be cities. The left does not approve of suburbs. It’s an effort to achieve economic integration. Obama believes it might not work well at first but after 20 or 30 years, everyone will be used to it.

Stanley Kurtz has been studying this pipe dream of the left for some time, and is the expert to consult. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project has essentially green lighted this initiative.

The administrative usurpation of housing policy” by Stanley Kurtz

“Massive Government Overreach: Obama’s AFFH Rule is Out” Kurtz

“What’s Holding Blacks Back?” by John McWhorter

ADDENDUM: I changed the wording in the first paragraph slightly to clarify just what it is that they are attempting to do. It is not about discrimination or segregation, it is about the numbers matching some pre-conceived perfect mixture of race and ethnicity, Affirmative action for America’s neighborhoods. Has been a disaster for education, and harmed the people they claimed to be helping, the most.



Liberal Delusions and Other Odd Phenomenons by The Elephant's Child

John Hinderaker remarked the other day that a common Liberal delusion was “a child-like faith in paper.” That stuck in my mind when we had the announcement of the dreadful shooting in Chattanooga, and the revelation that Marine recruiting offices were “Gun-Free Zones,” and I realized that was another liberal delusion. They are deathly afraid of guns, the physical objects, but do not focus particularly on the shooter, at least until we learn his personal story (‘a nice American boy’).

Slightly more attuned to this sort of thing, I’m reading Bret Stephens’ new book (excellent) America In RetreatHe was in Northern Pakistan in 2005, with a U.S Army MASH unit responding to a terrible earthquake, on a mission of mercy that saved thousands of Pakistani lives. It turned out to be a $200 million humanitarian operation. Stephens said it seemed to him at the time — a textbook example of how the combination of American power and American goodness could  yield tangible results when it came to Muslim hearts and minds. He came to realize it was a naive assumption.

In 2006 the Pew Global Attitudes Survey found that 27 percent of Pakistanis had a positive view of the United States, a post 9-11 high. The figure has dropped every year since to 11 percent in 2013. Just 8 percent of Pakistanis see the United States as a partner, against 64 percent of Pakistanis who see the United States as their enemy. And only 8 percent of Pakistanis think the impact of U.S. economic aid is “mostly positive.” When Pakistan was struck by another humanitarian disaster in 2010 — this time in the form of floods — a conspiracy theory that made the rounds in the  Pakistani media held that it was the doing of a weather-controlling device based in Alaska.

Stephens went on to quote Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics: “Benefactors seem to love their beneficiaries more than the beneficiaries love those who have benefitted from them. As this seems unreasonable, it should be investigated.”

This phenomenon is thoroughly investigated by William Voegeli whose The Pity Party is a “mean-spirited diatribe” against the Liberals’ celebration of themselves as the party of ‘Compassion.’

Sanctuary Cities would seem to fall into the same category, a sop to Liberals’ view of themselves as benefactors full of compassion in complete denial of reality. But I’m sure you can add to the list.

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), during a report on the debate over sanctuary cities after the murder of Kate Steinle, said “Every time a little thing like this happens, they use the most extreme example to say it must be eliminated.”

ADDENDUM: How could I forget to mention “Climate”, and “endangered species,” and, of course, “clean power.” The Left charges straight ahead with no regard for facts, science, or obvious proof. Obama is still going to save us from rising seas, in spite of the facts that the rise is calculated in millimeters, solar factories go bankrupt, other countries are getting rid of their windmills and solar farms, and expert wildlife zoologists specializing in Arctic animals assure us that the polar bears have been just fine for a hundred thousand years and the walrus do haulouts all the time.



A Vast Self-Inflicted Tragedy Has Struck Greece. There Are No Easy Answers. by The Elephant's Child
July 5, 2015, 8:59 pm
Filed under: Communism, Economy, Socialism, Statism | Tags: , , ,

c700x420

Well, the matter of Greece. Janet Daley describes the problem in The Telegraph.

There is no point any longer in trying to make sense of this. It has gone beyond sense. It is now incomprehensible in the strict technical meaning of the word. The “options” available are all catastrophic and delusional in varying degrees and combinations, and nobody is actually going to get to choose between them anyway – at least, nobody in Greece. To the extent that they have had any involvement – or culpability – in this matter, the Greek people must come to terms with the consequences of electing Russell Brand to head their government. Voters do have some responsibility for the choices that they make. That is what distinguishes mature democracy from the students’ union. But given the price that they are paying for that moment of mad frivolity, it seems harsh to condemn, especially as the prospect of fiscal rationality had already been ruined by the fecklessness of previous governments and external forces beyond their control.

It’s a marvelous example, once again, of the failure of socialism. We have seen it over  and over, and the empty stores in Venezuela were only a harbinger of the empty stores, already, in Greece. Spare the empathy, the Greeks brought it upon themselves. A new book from James Angelos:The Full Catastrophe, looks at the widespread tax evasion and benefit fraud. How about an island where everybody pretends to be blind? Or  doctors who earn only €12,000 a year — yet live in the most exclusive neighborhood in Athens?

It was rumors of the ‘Island of the blind’ that brought journalist James Angelos to Greece. Turned out that 61 of the supposedly blind residents of Zakynthos, were quite happily driving around the island, and an astonishing 496 of the 680 blind residents were not blind nor partially sighted. It was all a scam that could be traced back to one ophthalmologist and one official who cost the government €69 million. Being blind got you €724 paid in benefits once every two months, and a reduction in utility bills.

When the government called for those claiming disabilities to present themselves at government offices so official records could be updated, 36,000 failed to show up.That scam saved the government €100 million a year. When they began to check the rolls, they found that 8,500 unlikely pensioners claimed to be over age 100.

Neighborhoods of opulent mansions with their own pools were apparently occupied by virtual paupers who were living on a paltry €12,000 or only €8,000 since they were allowed to declare their own incomes for tax purposes. Official records showed that just over 300 homes in Athens most exclusive neighborhood  had swimming pools, and had paid the tax for the luxury. When the bureaucrats looked at Google Earth, it appeared that the real number of pools was closer to 20,000. But well-to-do home owners promptly bought camouflage tarpaulins to conceal their existence from tax inspectors flying over.

The picture of a pensioner crying in the street when he learns that his pension has been reduced to €120 is heartwrenching. Stores are empty, medicine short, and the government is projected to run out of cash this week. Nobody plans to rescue them. Much of Southern Europe is already coping with floods of refugees from Africa and the Middle East. Bureaucrats like to buy votes with their empathy. We care about  you and we will give you stuff. But bureaucrats need to stay in power, so they exert more and more control, which needs larger departments and higher salaries for the bureaucracy. And so it goes. Inflating and inflating the balloon with the inevitable result.



Pin the Tail On the Donkey! by The Elephant's Child

Over the Fourth of July weekend in Chicago, 30 people were shot in 8 hours overnight. A 7 year-old boy and two men were killed. The Confederate flag has been withdrawn from store shelves and public display because it has suddenly been decided that it is a racist symbol and might offend someone. No one is particularly offended by 30 people being shot in a city with very strict gun control. Chicago has not had a Republican mayor since 1931.

Even before the Baltimore riots, gun violence was up more than 60% compared with last year. Protesters from Ferguson were reportedly sent to Baltimore by a George Soros associated group. There were 32 shootings over Memorial Day weekend.  Baltimore has been run by Democrats since 1967.

In Milwaukee, homicides were up 180% by May 17 over last year. Shootings in St. Louis were up 39%. robberies 43% and homicides 25%. St.Louis Alderman Joe Vacarro said “Crime is the worst I’ve ever seen it” in a May City Hall hearing. Milwaukee’s last Republican Mayor left office in 1906, St. Louis’s last Republican Mayor left office in 1949. Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Murders in Atlanta were up 32% as of mid May, Democrat Mayors have run Atlanta since 1942.

What has happened is a relentlessly dishonest campaign against law enforcement, which the Wall Street Journal called “the Ferguson Effect,” beginning with Trayvon Martin, who was pictured as an innocent young boy in a hoodie, instead of the huge violent young man, and extending through one innocent young black man after another, with out-of-control violent policing supposedly at fault.

Shooting incidents were up 500% in East Harlem, 100% in South Central Los Angeles. And in many cities, police are afraid to confront suspects for fear that they will be attacked or wrongly accused of misbehavior. Cops are not perfect. There are bad apples. There are racists, but the majority of police across the country are trying to keep the peace and forestall crime. Attacking the police, making poor neighborhoods believe that they cannot trust the very people who are trying to protect them is a vast disservice. When that protection is lessened or withdrawn because police are fearful for their own lives, crime and murders go up and trust drops even more.



Why Don’t They Ever Learn? Socialist Economies Never, Never Work. by The Elephant's Child
July 5, 2015, 6:37 am
Filed under: Economy, Freedom, Socialism | Tags: , ,

Greece-Sanders-copy“Twenty-five years after the most oppressive empire in human history collapsed because socialist economies don’t work, 49 percent of American youth , according to a recent  Pew poll; think socialism is a good system. …We won the Cold War, but we didn’t drive a stake through the communist heart. As a result the vampire of “social justice” has risen to fight another day.” ..
…………………………………………………(David Horowitz: Take No Prisoners)




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,311 other followers

%d bloggers like this: