Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Education, Politics, Progressives, Unemployment | Tags: College For Everyone, Seriously Fuzzy Thinking, The Incompetence of Agencies
Just a coincidence, or a sign of the times? Victor Davis Hanson’s column yesterday spoke of “Alphabet Soup Corruption” in which he pointed out that there is hardly a single government agency or cabinet whose reputation has not nosedived since 2008. Scandals abound, from the EPA to the IRS, NASA, VA, ICE, DHS, and the Secret Service, the GSA, HHS, and Medicare and the Affordable Care Act, and many more. I’ve been saving articles about agency scandals, and I’m getting quite a collection.
What do all these scandal and embarrassments have in common? Aside from the fact that many appointees were selected based on their progressive bona fides and that they saw their missions to promote liberal causes, sometimes even at the cost of overriding their own agencies’ mandates, there was a widespread sense that the law simply did not apply to them. The President set the tone with a series of executive orders that overrode federal immigration law. He arbitrarily suspended some elements of the Affordable Care Act for fear that they would prove unpopular in the months before the 2012 election, and has bypassed congressional oversight and jurisdiction, whether by sidestepping the Senate’s ratification of treaties with the Iran deal or allowing the EPA to create new laws regulating coal plants and water standards that were never ratified by Congress.
The ensuing message was that social awareness, fairness, and egalitarianism trumped the rule of law. And the result was that an IRS director, a Secretary of State, an Attorney General, and a Department of Homeland Security Director were assessed not by whether they executed the law but by whether they promoted a progressive agenda.
So today we have an announcement from the White House Council of Economic Advisors — supposedly an independent group of scholars and economists ‘who were supposed to give the president non-partisan advice on economic issues.”
Their idea seems to be that since college graduates are apt to earn more than those who have not gone to college, in the aggregate, then their earning more will boost the economy, therefore their debt is a good thing. American Thinker added:
Student loan debt has nearly doubled under President Obama, from $664 billion to $1.3 trillion. So how does being buried under a mountain of debt help the economy?
Not every kid heading to college will major in something that guarantees a financially rewarding career. Think dance, or women’s studies, or any of the other “studies” majors. Offhand, I can think of far more majors that are not directed to a well-paid career than those that are. And young people often pursue that which is fashionable at the moment rather than rewarding. I recall a conversation with my daughter in which she announced haughtily that she just couldn’t see herself sitting in a cubicle shoving papers around on a desk. ( I should remind her of that one again).
As far as that goes, there are many very successful careers that do not require a college education. Peter Thiel has reportedly established the Thiel Fellowship Program for college students which offers $100,000 to college students with venture ideas who agree to drop out of college and pursue their venture. He’s thinking of the kids who have ideas that “just won’t wait.”
There is some decidedly fuzzy thinking going on in the White House. President Obama assumes that every kid should go to college, which would eliminate all sorts of entrepreneurs and all sorts of careers. The idea that student loan debt boosts the economy is only loosely tethered to reality. Unemployed students or those defaulting on their loans leave taxpayers on the hook. Students may be too fiscally ignorant to be able to make good choices about how much debt is prudent. It should be the obligation of colleges to be good guides.
Colleges and Universities have grown lush with resort-like climbing walls and gyms, and way too many administrators. When the federal government raises the amount students can borrow, the cost of college goes up across the board. We need some serious fiscal restraint here.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Domestic Policy, Economics, Free Markets, Freedom, Politics, Progressives, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Accepting Human Nature, Freedom & Regulation, Freedom vs Equality
We are in an election season, so politics dominates the news, with ideas devised, not necessarily to improve anything at all, but to get votes. The season of promising big giveaways to the voters on the one hand, while promising to slash budgets on the other, with no apparent awareness that the two are incompatible. (Are you all conventioned out? And are you prepared for another one next week?)
Thomas Sowell, who always has his eye on basic common sense, addressed “the dumbest idea in politics,” which plays a very large role in political conversation. Dr. Sowell’s nomination for the most stupid idea in politics would be “the assumption that people would be evenly or randomly distributed in incomes, institutions, occupations or awards, in the absence of somebody doing somebody wrong.”
Political crusades, bureaucratic empires and lucrative personal careers as grievance mongers have been built on the foundation of that assumption, which is almost never tested against any facts.
A recent article in the New York Times saw as a problem the fact that females are greatly underrepresented among the highest rated chess players. Innumerable articles, TV stories and political outcries have been based on an “underrepresentation” of women in Silicon Valley, seen as a problem that needs to be solved.
Are there girls out there dying to play chess, who find the doors slammed shut in their faces? Are there women with Ph.D.s in computer science from M.I.T. and Cal Tech who get turned away when they apply for jobs in Silicon Valley?
Well yes, and the claim that the candidate will demand equal pay for women is loud on the campaign-trail, despite the fact that unequal pay for the same work has been against the law since 1963. Inequality comes from different career choices. Men and women make different choices. It’s quite natural—way back when humanity were hunter-gatherers, men were the hunters and women the gatherers. Human nature.
There are countries where children are expected to follow in the same trade as their parent. There’s no real opportunity to do something different.There are many countries where women are expected to care for home and children, and any other choice is unthinkable.
Discrimination plays a large part not only in politics, but as employment for attorneys. “Billions of dollars, in the aggregate, have changed hands as a result of individual lawsuits charging discrimination,” Dr Sowell added.
The Left is deeply enamored with the idea that everyone should be equal, (except themselves of course). They welcome change in the interest of equality and individual liberty, although equality doesn’t really go with individual liberty. You have perhaps noticed that in their drive for equality, equality is supposed to come from vastly increased government regulation. Forced equality goes with their push for control of everything, which comes from lots of regulation from the wise and superior people in government agencies.
Why anyone would believe that would increase individual liberty is a mystery. The thing is, they just don’t like human nature either, and want to fix it. And they don’t like actual liberty at all.. They hate the First Amendment, the repeal of Citizen’s United is in their platform, as is silencing anyone who ‘denies’ catastrophic global warming that is threatening our very survival, or at least the survival of Manhattan with the rise of the seas. Trouble with that is that some very important figures in the catastrophic global warming movement have revealed that their real goal is a vast transfer of wealth from the rich nations (us) to the poor nations, in the name of — (of course) equality.
I think most Americans would rank freedom above equality. It’s freedom that allows people to have ideas and take it out to their garage and struggle to make it develop and grow, and in America there has usually been the possibility to take that idea and open a business without too much fear of government regulation and too much fear of endless red tape that makes a start-up impossible. The folks on the Left insist that they want new businesses and new jobs, but they cannot understand that the controls and regulation and requirements and fines and inspections that they find essential for control — kill the businesses they claim they want created.
When they have controlled and regulated ordinary people into more satisfactory people, and they have devised better rules for everyone to follow and better laws — we will have a better chance of reaching “that world as it ought to be” that the Obamas speak of. “The world as it is just won’t do,”they say, and they consider that a proper goal. They believe they have an obligation to strive for a brave new world. Oh yes, that was the name of a book, wasn’t it? Oddly enough, writers of science fiction cannot stop demonstrating the dreadful results of trying to fix humanity. But then, we’ve had some real-life attempts as well — Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mugabe, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Mao Zedong, Saddam, Assad — the list goes on and on.
Set free, ordinary people can do some pretty amazing things, like building a free country, and inventing all sorts of advancement in human life, curing disease and creating great works of art and writing marvelous books to warn us about what could go wrong if we are not paying attention.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Crime, Domestic Policy, Economy, Free Markets, Freedom, History, Humor, Media Bias, Police, Politics, Pop Culture, Regulation | Tags: Chicago Democrat Since 1927, Econimics Not Their Strong Suit, The Last Republican Mayors
I was just thinking – not long ago GM was building cars in Flint, Michigan and you couldn’t drink the water in Mexico.
After 7 plus years of Obama’s administration, GM now builds cars in Mexico and you can’t drink the water in Flint, Michigan.
Hope and Change delivered! Is this a great country or what?
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Crime, Domestic Policy, Economy, Education, Law, Media Bias, Police, Politics, The United States, Unemployment | Tags: Heather MacDonald, Mayor Rahm Emaniel, President Barack Obama, The Shooting of Michael Brown
Chicago on the Brink
Violence in Chicago is reaching epidemic proportions. In the first five months of 2016, someone was shot every two and a half hours and someone murdered every 14 hours, for a total of nearly 1,400 nonfatal shooting victims and 240 fatalities. Over Memorial Day weekend, 69 people were shot, nearly one per hour, dwarfing the previous year’s tally of 53 shootings over the same period. The violence is spilling over from the city’s gang-infested South and West Sides into the downtown business district; Lake Shore Drive has seen drive-by shootings and robberies.
The growing mayhem is the result of Chicago police officers’ withdrawal from proactive enforcement, making the city a dramatic example of what I have called the “Ferguson effect.” Since the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014, the conceit that American policing is lethally racist has dominated the national airwaves and political discourse, from the White House on down. In response, cops in minority neighborhoods in Chicago and other cities around the country are backing off pedestrian stops and public-order policing; criminals are flourishing in the resulting vacuum. (An early and influential Ferguson-effect denier has now changed his mind: in a June 2016 study for the National Institute of Justice, Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri–St. Louis concedes that the 2015 homicide increase in the nation’s large cities was “real and nearly unprecedented.” “The only explanation that gets the timing right is a version of the Ferguson effect,” he told the Guardian.)
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel warned in October 2015 that officers were going “fetal,” as shootings in the city skyrocketed. But 2016 has brought an even sharper reduction in proactive enforcement. Devastating failures in Chicago’s leadership after a horrific police shooting and an ill-considered pact between the American Civil Liberties Union and the police are driving that reduction. Residents of Chicago’s high-crime areas are paying the price.
……………………………………..(Do Read the whole thing)
The statistics are shocking. What we must pay attention to, however, are the incentives involved. When you tell residents of black neighborhoods that the reasons for many members of their families going to prison is not really because they committed a crime, but because the cops are racist, and the system is crooked, and tell them often enough, they’re apt to begin to believe it.
When neighborhoods come to believe that the cops are racist and don’t care about the black people they shoot, the police are inclined to back off a little more. When a cop is killed in the line of duty because the neighborhood believes they are racist, the police are more wary of stopping suspicious drivers or wading into s situation that looks like trouble.
That could all be perfectly innocent — just human nature. Policemen have families and want to go home at night. People in a neighborhood find it easier to believe the worst of cops than of their family members or next door neighbors. And so it escalates.
When the news on television blames the police, or the President of the United States suggests that he is going to pardon large numbers of federal prisoners because they are unjustly imprisoned by an unfair system — that seems pretty official, and likely true.
That hardly begins to touch on the incentives involved. When crime rates are high, fewer businesses are willing to locate in the neighborhood. With fewer businesses, there are fewer jobs, particularly for young men of an age to need their first working experience. If there are no jobs, there are drugs and gangs and petty theft and hatred of the police. Heather MacDonald enumerates the escalating steps, tragedy by tragedy, and on the other side the breakdown in order and control.
Accusations of endemic racism, economic injustice, housing segregation, mass incarceration, white privilege, disparate impact are problematic words that hurt more than they help. Heather MacDonald’ s calm and careful analysis is important, and all parties involved would do well to understand her analysis.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Crime, Economics, Foreign Policy, Free Markets, Military, National Security, Police, Regulation, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Honest Speech vs Political Speech, Misuse of Language, President Barack Obama
Every four years, I forget just how much I dislike political conventions. Not just theirs, but our as well. I’m already tired of how wonderful our candidate is and how dreadful their is. Conventions are big parties of excess. But then I may just be getting cranky.
I am exceedingly tired of being lectured by our president. He turned up on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal yesterday to lecture the Senate about their duty to confirm his nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. You always knew there was something not quite right about the claim that he had been a professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago. He was a lecturer in civil rights law, which he mostly used to teach Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals.
The Constitution directs the Senate to advise and consent, not to approve. The Daily Caller subjected his op-ed to a fact check, and it didn’t fare well, directly from the words of, oh, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama when he voted to filibuster Justice Alito. (Politicians still are not familiar with the fact that we can quickly look up their words from yesterday and ten years ago.)
He’s getting very predictable when he scolds us. “That’s not who we are as Americans!” “That’s who we are, and who we have the capacity to be.” Or as John Podhoretz recently put it:
As usual, Obama made strange use of the word ‘we,’ because when he says ‘we,’ he means ‘you,’ and when he means ‘you,’ he means people who aren’t as enlightened and thoughtful as he and his ideological compatriots are.
Well, clearly, we are all a great disappointment to our president. I’m not alone in noticing. David Harsanyi did, at the Federalist.
At the funeral service for five slain Dallas cops, Barack Obama delivered another one of his needlessly politicized lectures. As is customary these days, those who were critical of his rhetoric were branded racists and unthinking haters.
That’s one theory.
Another one is that people might be put off by Obama’s grating habit of turning every tragedy into a sermon about our supposed collective failings. I doubt the president is substantively more partisan than the average politician, but like most people on the Left these days, he no longer bothers to make a distinction between a policy position and a moral struggle.
The issue of gun control, for example, isn’t a good-faith disagreement between people of different persuasions, but — like civil rights or suffrage — a struggle waged by the righteous against the evil (and sometimes those poor souls tricked by the NRA).
I went on a bit a few days ago about the fallacy of the term “gun violence” which is nothing but propaganda. It’s not the gun that is violent, but the shooter. Consider the latest terrorist attacks in France. We had truck violence in Nice, and axe violence on a bus. That allows us to ignore the terrorist (we can’t call them that) who committed the act because we “don’t know what their real motives were.”
That’s what I am cranky about — the purposeful misuse of language to confuse, or hide, or misplace blame. The world is a very dangerous place right now. It is impossible to deal effectively with those dangers if we cannot even use clear language. Fuzzy language reveals fuzzy minds, and the inability to take clear action.
Filed under: Economics, Foreign Policy, History, Islam, Middle East, Military | Tags: Recep Tayip Erdogan, Turkey Aflame
Europe has, in general, thought of Turkey as their bulwark against the hordes of Islamic migrants (heavily infiltrated with ISIS fighters). The democratically elected president of Turkey, Recep Tayip Erdogan, has just been the subject of a military coup (while he was absent from the country) which failed. Many believe that it was not a real coup, but Erdogan’s own plot to dispose of future military coups, and confirm his preferred position of lifetime dictator of a radical Islamist state. That seems to be the customary and approved form of governance in the Islamist states of the Middle East. It does not bode well.
Erdogan is taking advantage of the coup crisis to justify a major crackdown on his enemies. He seems to have a prepared list, ready to go, of officers and judges who have already been arrested in the thousands, along with civic leaders, journalists, professors, and government employees. The government is calling on the people to protest in the streets, and encouraging jihadists and IS sympathizers to raid the homes of secular people beat them and kill them.
David P. Goldman, who also writes as Spengler, is expert in matters of demography and finance. He says that Turkey has built up a bubble of debt, financing consumption with debt. Consumer debt is now almost equal to total personal income in Turkey, compared to 20% here, which horrifies conservative economists. Turkey’s average interest rate as consumer debt, according to the central bank, is just under 17%. The birth rate for Turks is way down, while the birth rate for Kurdish Turks remains healthy—but they want to form their own country with Kurds from Syria and Iraq.
An article by Soner Cagaptay in the Wall Street Journal captures the dangerous moment in history for the Turkish nation:
In 2014, Mr. Erdogan, acceding to term limits, stepped down as prime minister and as the head of the AKP. He instead assumed the presidency—a formerly weak office that he has been steadily transforming. The coup gives Mr. Erdogan an excuse to press ahead with his plans to cobble together a parliamentary majority; he intends to amend Turkey’s Constitution and take over the posts of prime minister and AKP chairman in addition to being president.
This process, which would make Mr. Erdogan the most powerful person in Turkey since the country became a multiparty democracy in 1950, fits into his gradualist approach to consolidating power. At the same time, it presents a risk: In the two most recent elections, Mr. Erdogan’s AKP has maxed out at 49.5% support, and although the president’s popularity has risen since the coup, there is no guarantee that this bump will last until the next elections, which, depending on when Mr. Erdogan calls them, could be as late as next year.
The quickest path to power is Islamist revolution. Erdogan supporters are Islamists and jihadists and protesting in the streets. An Islamist counter-revolution would mean the loss of its NATO membership, exposing the country to neighboring enemies, including Russia. And an economic meltdown is not unlikely.
If Mr. Erdogan were to pump up religious fervor further, he could convert the religious counter-coup d’état into an Islamist counter-revolution, ending Turkey’s status as a secular democracy. Adding to the temptation is the fact that the military, divided and discredited in the public eye following the failed coup, is in no position to prevent a counterrevolution.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Crime, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, History, Law, Media Bias, Police, Politics, The United States | Tags: American Policing, Heather MacDonald, Hillsdale College
This is a lecture given by Heather MacDonald in April of this year at Hillsdale College. Heather MacDonald is a scholar at the Manhattan Institute, and a recognized authority on American crime and policing. She has the data and statistics to back up her contentions, which belie the claims of the Black Lives Matter crowd and their attacks on police and policing.
It’s a long lecture, so you will want to postpone it till you have time, but if you can manage it, her command of the facts will clarify this situation that is getting increasingly dangerous. Or you can just buy her new book, The War on Cops.