CCP, my take: These are laws he broke (allegedly). We need prosecution, fair trial, then penalty. Not committees. He lost his Chairmanship. He faced public humiliation from his peers. He (and about a dozen crooked Obama appointees) helped bring down his party and his own political cause and continues as a negative force. Sure he should be thrown out, but that should have been done by his voters who placed no importance on decency. So let Pelosi with her name and face attached to opposing the will of Americans and Rangel synonymous with corruption and tax cheating serve on for their leftist causes. I personally don't care as long as they are out of power. That means two more years before some new liberal with innocence and charisma can start a freedom-hating, race-baiting career from that leftist congressional district. Meanwhile we have thousands of great new candidates and leaders gaining experience across the country to run for the next level.
He is a failure, but no one could be a success with that legislature and those voters. From a couple of posts back (Crafty/Dennis Prager):
What's the difference between California voters and the passengers on the Titanic?
The passengers on the Titanic didn't vote to hit the iceberg.
Our state MN is a similar Blue State, similar voters in terms of well meaning white elites, white blue collar and heavy Dem inner city vote, similar problems on a smaller scale, but a different border. Just elected a complete loser from the left to be Governor (still in recount). What no one noticed or expected with all the governor race polling was that both chambers of the legislature swung from 60% Dem to similar margin to the R. Now we will have a reverse of the divided government we were getting used to. Nothing can get solved, but we can slow the rate of new damage done.
Our voters partially get it that you can't border on states that are advertising for our businesses and have no income tax and keep going up and up and up with penalties on production. But there is no momentum to reduce a huge state government burden either.
Calif voters had the marijuana crowd, the open borders crowd and I assume the gay marriage crowd out in force up against an unfocused Republican message. A note to the libertarians among us. You may not like your political partnership with the conservatives very well, but when you partner with the liberals to try to get things done on so-called social issues, the results on everything else (big government) are not something to crow about.
In the context that it is fiction and it is television, I like the show. There were shows about psychics doing similar work. In this case he denies extraordinary powers, just heightened awareness with good humor. Like the Harry Potter plots, the good guys have to constantly stray near the edges of the rules to find justice. Just doing your job correctly doesn't fill the seats.
There were movies such as Pacific Heights about tenants from hell. As a landlord I found zero entertainment value, nothing original and could turn it off and walk away at any point in a so-called thriller plot. If I were in law enforcement, the last decade or two of cop shows might not be what I would watch for laughs after work. But it is where the rest of us get our information about LE.
On his recent trip to India, President Obama was lavish in his praise for Mahatma Gandhi. Obama maintained that Gandhi's message of being "the change we seek in the world" was instrumental in inspiring his own journey from community organizer to President of the United States. "I might not be standing here today," said the president, had it not been for the Great Soul's influence.
Knowing, however, that Gandhi's political philosophy included highly persuasive polemics against big government, the welfare state, foreign aid, affirmative action, identity politics, divisive rhetoric, and malice toward one's opponents, it's hard to imagine the president devoting much time as a student in quiet and humble contemplation with the great guru's writings.
Gandhi, for example, would have lasted about twenty seconds in Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity "United" Church in Chicago. On the other hand, Barack Obama and his family dutifully attended Wright's church for twenty years. Wright's racially divisive theology of "liberation" would have constituted for Gandhi a direct assault on one of the main pillars of his own political philosophy: "liberation," or swaraj.
While swaraj literally means "independence," for Gandhi, the term was much more importantly associated with intense self-examination and self-mastery. True freedom, according to Gandhi, meant an inward journey of liberation from the kind of anger, fear, and hatred that served only to perpetuate cycles of domination and division in society.
Gandhi argued, for example, that national liberation from the British would actually create a more harmful situation in India if the new Hindu political class failed to cleanse themselves of longstanding resentments and ill will. Gandhi understood quite rightly that the internal "weaknesses and failures" that might continue to animate the new rulers "would then be buttressed up by the accession of power."
It's quite impossible, in other words, to conjure up a picture of Gandhi unleashing the kind of unbridled rhetoric ("I don't mind cleaning up after them, but don't do a lot of talking") that President Obama has often used to characterize his own conservative countrymen. In addition, when the president advised Hispanic voters to think of the recent election as an opportunity to "punish our enemies" and "reward our friends," he was giving painful evidence to the suspicion that someone other than Gandhi had in fact inspired his own run for the White House.
Swaraj is also the reason why Gandhi was deeply suspicious of big government. Gandhi saw an inverse relationship between disciplined self-mastery and the need for the welfare state. Indeed, the Bhagavad-Gita -- Hinduism's holiest scripture -- is a beautifully arranged set of eighteen sermons by the avatar Krishna to the warrior Arjuna on the philosophical intricacies of self-control, or yoga, which forms the basis of an individual's moral and spiritual progress. Said Gandhi:
I look upon an increase of the power of the state with the greatest fear, because although while apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, it does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality, which lies at the root of all progress.
Gandhi observed that while individuals have souls, the state is "a soulless machine" that "represent violence in a concentrated and organized form." Rather than rely on the state, then, to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality, Gandhi proposed what he called "trusteeship." Trusteeship meant persuading the affluent to think of their wealth as something held in trust for the indigent poor. Again, Gandhi was trying to couple the freedom inherent in Hindu philosophy with the faith in a man's ability to master and overcome his often self-centered proclivities: "We know of so many cases where men have adopted trusteeship, but none where the State has really lived for the poor."
The great Gandhi scholar Dr. Dennis Dalton, who taught for years at Columbia University, has said that when Gandhi used the term "welfare for all," he meant "economic justice and equal opportunity, not dependency on the welfare system as we know it in America." [Emphasis added.] Professor Dalton adds:
Gandhi's idealism is usually associated with compassion and charity, but in his appeal to discipline and hard work there is an undeniable strain of what we might call ‘Yankee individualism.' He identified with the gospel of self-reliance in the philosophy of two of the Americans that he admired most, Thoreau and Emerson.
For Gandhi, the dangers of welfare-state dependency extended beyond individuals to nations as well. To those advocating global wealth redistribution, Gandhi made the quite startling observation that a nation that accepts economic aid succeeds only in crippling itself:
There is nothing more degrading for a country than to beg from others when it cannot meet its requirements. It is a practical principle that if you want to be friends with someone and you want the friendship to endure, you should not seek economic aid from them.
Like all of history's great moralists from Aristotle to Kant, Gandhi recognized that the source of benevolent moral relationships included both freedom and a healthy sense of personal responsibility. Gandhi's fear of welfare-state dependency was remarkably similar to the concern Adam Smith had about the bureaucratic state "pushing too far" and destroying the basis for human benevolence. "Beneficence is always free," said Smith. "t cannot be extorted by force."
In addition, swaraj was also the reason why Gandhi objected to the affirmative action and quota policies that many social reformers were advocating for India's untouchables back in the 1930s. Gandhi was strikingly clairvoyant in his belief that quota policies -- such as reserved legislative seats and separate electorates -- would serve only to inflame identity politics and perpetuate the bondage of the untouchables. ... In sum, Gandhi argued that Western socialism is predicated upon a entirely dismal view of human potential compared with Hinduism, which holds that free individuals had the capacity to "respond to the spirit" within them and rise above the petty forces of bitterness and self-indulgence.
This lame-duck Congress - its mandate exhausted, many of its members repudiated - should merely fund the government for a few months at current spending levels with a "continuing resolution," then apologize for almost everything else it has done and depart. If, however, the 111th Congress wants to make amends, it should repeal something the 95th did.
In 1977, Congress gave the Federal Reserve a "dual mandate." Although the central bank is a creature of Congress, it is, in trying to fulfill this mandate, becoming a fourth branch of government.
The Fed's large, and sufficient, original mission was to maintain price stability - to preserve the currency as a store of value. "Mission creep" usually results from a metabolic urge of government agencies. The Fed, however, had institutional imperialism thrust upon it when Congress - forgetting, not for the first or last time, its core functions - directed the Fed "to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates." The last two goals are really one. In the pursuit of the first, which requires the Fed to attempt to manage short-term economic growth, the Fed has started printing $600 billion - this is the meaning of what is called, with calculated opacity, "quantitative easing."
Those running the Fed, says Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) dryly, "are really putting the fiat in fiat money" - money backed by nothing but trust in the judgment and good faith of the government creating it. The Fed is doing what the executive branch wants done but that the legislative branch will not do - creating another stimulus.
By seeming to do the president's bidding, the Fed stumbled into a diplomatic thicket. While the president was impotently accusing China of keeping the value of its currency low in order to facilitate exports, many nations were construing America's quantitative easing as similarly motivated currency manipulation. The primary purpose of quantitative easing might be to force down the yields of government bonds in order to induce investors to invest in corporate bonds and stocks. But when a predictable result of the policy is to devalue the dollar, it is a pointless parsing of words for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who serves a president who has vowed to double U.S. exports in five years, to say that America will never weaken its currency "as a tool to gain competitive advantage."
In a 2007 speech, Frederic S. Mishkin, then of the Fed's Board of Governors, lauded the dual mandate as "consistent with" the Fed's "ultimate purpose of fostering economic prosperity and social welfare." Note how easily the mandate to "maximize employment" becomes the grandiose, and certainly political, function of promoting, and therefore defining, "social welfare."
Mishkin said "the rationale for maximizing employment is fairly obvious": "The alternative situation - high unemployment - is associated with human misery, including lower living standards and increases in poverty as well as social pathologies such as loss of self-esteem, a higher incidence of divorce, increased rates of violent crime, and even suicide." Obviously, some of the central bank's governors have been encouraged by Congress to think of themselves as more than mere bankers - as wizards of social control, even regulating society's reservoirs of self-esteem.
The Fed cannot perform such a fundamentally political function and forever remain insulated from politics. Only repeal of the dual mandate can rescue the Fed from the ruinous - immediately to its reputation; eventually to its independence - role as the savior of the economy, or of any distressed sector (e.g., housing) that clamors for lower interest rates. Ryan has introduced repeal legislation before and will do so again in January.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has wistfully imagined a day when economists might get "themselves thought of as humble, competent people on a level with dentists." But that day will not dawn as long as the dual mandate makes it almost mandatory for him to vow that the Fed "can assist keeping employment close to its maximum level through adroit policies." Even defining "maximum employment" is a political as well as technical act.
Ryan, incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, says the Fed thinks it can adroitly "put the cruise missile through the goal posts." But how adroit can Fed management of the economy be? No complex economy can be both managed and efficient, meaning dynamic. To think otherwise is what Friedrich Hayek called "the fatal conceit." That conceit can be fatal to the Fed's independence.
Followup to some discussion on Charlie Rangel on rants and thought pieces.
It is wonderful that the Dem congress acted at all on this IMO. Rangel was begging to make himself look like he is being persecuted by the new Republican House and it didn't come to that. He already lost his Chairmanship and would have lost it any way in the party sweep. Expulsion vs. censure? I don't really care. It was for mostly his constituents to remove him. He was just re-elected with 80 percent of the vote. If he really is criminally guilty, jail might keep him from voting in congress. We are going to get a liberal from Harlem no matter what. It is Democrats that should wish Rangel would go away.
I give the Dems some credit here. They said they would clean up the house and they didn't, but in this one instance I give them credit for eventually doing something here and not letting it slide forward.
Did he buy a one way cash ticket, I don't know. He did have a gun and I don't think anyone is ready to get rid of metal detectors.
Assuming intelligence had not penetrated any groups he joined, that we didn't know he was a recent Muslim convert who had changed name to Abdul Waheed and that we did not know of his mental health instabilities and suicidal tendencies... Assuming our intelligence missed all that, he still fits a partial demographic of young male in a certain age range, who rarely steps onto an airplane, from a country known for imported and home grown terrorists (UK). We would check him over closer than my sister or mother if the mission was strictly safety and security rather than equal treatment, which we don't seem to apply anywhere else in America.
Honestly I don't know if or how we would know GM, but if we could clear the names of most of the frequent flying no-threat public, we would have more time to search this guy's crevices.
"Passengers are categorized at the outset as to whether they are Israeli Jews, foreign-born Jews, and so forth, with Arabs and certain other foreigners most likely to be profiled."
- These strategies are illegal here(?) 4 choices: a) start profiling, b) stop flying, c) Let planes blow up, or d) the status quo with thousands standing around, naked and groped, and Muslims bypassed from search for religious objections. What are we teaching our kindergardners about good touch, bad touch?
Under the category of start profiling, I would add to the assignment of finding the potential bad guys, identify all the known good-guys (all-gender) that we can in this country and approve them for easy boarding with or without concealed carry of whatever the marshalls think is safe to discharge on a plane.
I notice that other than Cairo (and Amsterdam), El Al does not fly to Muslim countries. And Saudi airlines for example has no flights to Tel Aviv. ---- I recall my first business trip overseas. It didn't occur to me that my briefcase with electronic design equipment might be suspicious or maybe they treated everyone this way. I was in London Gatwick, I think, entering the country rather than boarding an airplane, way-pre-911. I recall being very surprised by the very intense questioning with an intense questioner judging my response; it went like this: Who are you? Who are you REALLY??! Why are you here? Why are you REALLY here??! I have re-told that story many times wondering in jest how many terrorists cave in on that follow up question and then tell them their plans, lol. I assume I was more surprised by the doubting followup question than a trained terrorist would be. Maybe the ordeal was just their way of treating a naive young American of Scottish-English origin the same way they would a Saudi or Yemeni national.
California's Destructive Green Jobs Lobby Silicon Valley, once synonymous with productivity-enhancing innovation, is now looking to make money on feel-good government handouts.
By GEORGE GILDER
California officials acknowledged last Thursday that the state faces $20 billion deficits every year from now to 2016. At the same time, California's state Treasurer entered bond markets to sell some $14 billion in "revenue anticipation notes" over the next two weeks. Worst of all, economic sanity lost out in what may have been the most important election on Nov. 2—and, no, I'm not talking about the gubernatorial or senate races.
This was the California referendum to repeal Assembly Bill 32, the so-called Global Warming Solutions Act, which ratchets the state's economy back to 1990 levels of greenhouse gases by 2020. That's a 30% drop followed by a mandated 80% overall drop by 2050. Together with a $500 billion public-pension overhang, the new energy cap dooms the state to bankruptcy.
Conservative pundits have lavished mock pity on the state. But as America's chief fount of technology, California cannot go down the drain without dragging the rest of the country with it.
The irony is that a century-long trend of advance in conventional "non-renewable" energy—from wood to oil to natural gas and nuclear—has already wrought a roughly 60% drop in carbon emissions per watt. Thus the long-term California targets might well be achieved globally in the normal course of technological advance. The obvious next step is aggressive exploitation of the trillions of cubic feet of low-carbon natural gas discovered over the last two years, essentially ending the U.S. energy crisis.
The massive vote against repeal of the California law—62% to 38%—supports an economy-crushing drive to suppress CO2 emissions from natural gas and everything else. In a parody of supply-side economics, advocates of AB 32 envisage the substitution of alternative energy sources that create new revenue sources, new jobs and industries. Their economic model sees new wealth emerge from jobs dismantling the existing energy economy and replacing it with a medieval system of windmills and solar collectors. By this logic we could all get rich by razing the existing housing plant and replacing it with new-fangled tents.
All the so-called "renewables" programs waste and desecrate the precious resource of arable land that feeds the world. Every dollar of new wages for green workers will result in several dollars of reduced pay and employment for the state's and the nation's other workers—and reduced revenues for the government.
Most destructive of all is the bill's stultifying effect on America's and California's most important asset: the venture capital industry, which accounts for the nation's technological leadership, military power, and roughly a fifth of GDP.
Led by Al Gore's investment affiliate, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, the campaign to save AB 32 raised $31 million—more than three times the $10 million that the oil companies raised for repeal. Pouring in millions were such promethean venturers as John Doerr and Vinod Khosla of Kleiner Perkins, Eric Schmidt and Sergei Brin of Google, and the legendary Gordon Moore and Andrew Grove of Intel. The campaign even managed to shake down a contribution from the state's public utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, and gained the backing of the GOP's eBay billionaire gubernatorial candidate, Meg Whitman.
What is wrong with California's plutocratic geniuses? They are simply out of their depth in a field they do not understand. Solar panels are not digital. They may be made of silicon but they benefit from no magic of miniaturization like the Moore's Law multiplication of transistors on microchips. There is no reasonable way to change the wavelengths of sunlight to fit in drastically smaller photo receptors. Biofuels are even less promising. Even if all Americans stopped eating (saving about 100 thermal watts per capita on average) and devoted all of our current farmland to biofuels, the output could not fill much more than 2% of our energy needs.
In the past, Kleiner Perkins funded scores of vital ventures, from Apple and Applied Materials to Amazon and Google. But now Kleiner is moving on to such government- dependent firms as Miasole, Amyris Biofuels, Segway and Upwind Solutions. Many have ingenious technology and employ thousands of brilliant engineers, but they are mostly wasted on pork catchers.
Other venturers plunged into solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, which received some $500 million in federal subsidies and a campaign visit from Barack Obama before laying off 17% of its work force and giving up on a new factory that was supposed to create 1,000 green jobs.
Many of these green companies, behaving like the public-service unions they resemble, diverted some of their government subsidies into the AB 32 campaign for more subsidies. Virtually every new venture investment proposal harbors a "green" angle that turns it from a potential economic asset into a government dependent.
A partial solution is a suit by four attorneys general outside of California. They argue that the California law violates the Constitution's interstate commerce clause because of the limits it places on electricity generated by out-of-state, coal-fired power plants. But ultimately the new Congress must act. The Center for American Progress has found that 50 out of 100 or so new Republican congressmen elected earlier this month are "climate-change skeptics." But Republican leaders such as incoming Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor show dangerous gullibility in the face of environmentalist claims.
Co-sponsoring a disgraceful bill introduced in September to force utilities to expand their use of "renewable energy" to 15% by 2021 are Republican Sens. Sam Brownback and Susan Collins. Republican politicians are apparently lower in climate skepticism than readers of Scientific American, which recently discovered to its horror that some 80% of its subscribers, mostly American scientists, reject man-made global warming catastrophe fears.
Republicans may delude themselves that the U.S. can undertake a costly, inefficient and disruptive transformation of the energy economy, estimated by the International Energy Agency to cost some $45 trillion over 40 years, while meeting our global military challenges and huge debt overhang. But the green campaign wastes scarce and precious technological and entrepreneurial resources indispensable to the nation's future. Now it is debauching America's most precious venture assets. It must be defeated, not appeased.
Looks like Murkowski has the votes. A so-called loss for the so-called tea party, but Miller became the endorsed Republican and Murkowski promised to sign again with the Republicans. Combined they took 75% of the vote and the Dem took less than 25%.
My initial thought was that Murkowski will retaliate against tea partiers who snubbed her. But it makes more sense to make peace with her own side. Running for nomination unopposed and staying out of jail will give her a seat in the senate for life if she wants it.
Murkowski draws a 'C' from the Club for Growth, she is not Pat Toomey but she is no Susan Collins either. Most likely she will continue on as she was, as a run-of-the-mill Republican, not visionary but right from my point of view on most of the issues: http://www.ontheissues.org/senate/Lisa_Murkowski.htm
Pick any issue you want, I see these 4 - Voted NO on Sonia Sotomayor and NO on Elena Kagan, Voted YES on Samuel Alito and John Roberts - and say... welcome back Lisa.
"So then law enforcement would be enforcing those laws with search warrants, yes?"
There were two points there, local zoning ordinances and child protection. I was ready to go off on a rant about child protection, but maybe you were referring to the zoning rules. In both cases, I think you can start off presumed guilty which removes some of the need for specific evidence. Neither is necessarily a criminal charge which removes defendant rights you would have had with a criminal charge. Sounds flippant but I can give first hand stories. ------- Crafty, I agree. If the goal is resolution, the issue should be separated down to areas where political agreement is possible. The argument here keeps drifting back to extreme examples.
I like the focus on movement the positive instead of weight the negative, also to changing the types of foods. Carrots and spinach are not as addicting as MSG loaded potato chips dripping in salt and fat. You can't quit eating but it seems to me you would have to commit to quitting forever certain named junk foods that are causing you the most problem (or resign to living a shortened and immobile life). For example, if you are 100 pounds long term overweight and serious about improving your health, and french fries, glazed donuts and all you can eat buffets are your 3 worst violators, you need to make a conscious yes-no list for all the foods you have been eating and commit to never again eat certain named worst violators, as serious as drug addiction withdrawal, and add an equal number of new, healthy choices for sustenance to your list that don't sound as good right now to replace them. And then stick with it, everyday, like a recovering alcoholic refusing to have one beer.
Regarding mobility, I'm no expert but there are forms of swimming and water exercise that might be lower impact on the joints than even going for a walk.
Other helpful hints: Scale down to one small refrigerator and one small television and put them in opposite corners of the house. The conscious brain can limit some choices of the subconscious brain. Instead of a midnight snack, go to bed earlier. You will be more tired if you worked on mobility during the day.
A Meth Lab in a residence would still be a violation of local zoning ordinance in any municipality I know of, like having an oil refinery or nuclear waste storage site (as I have offered to do for money) on your property. If there isn't a local ordinance against it because it is already against state law, then there will be.
If meth were legalized - and it won't be - child protection laws would be unchanged. If authorities wouldn't remove the meth; they would remove the children.
Regarding meth orphans, I have been inside of foster homes and I have been inside meth homes. The children are doing far better in the former.
Sometimes we get so quickly and deeply into a technical issue that no one ever slows down and backs up to explain it all in simple and direct terms. This should take care of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiadcgYQguo
More trouble at security. Jay Leno reports that an older woman came out of TSA screening all out of breath, angry, crying and hollering to her husband, 'How come YOU never touch me like that anymore?!'
CCP, You are exactly right. In the one example I would cite, the weight came off seemingly easily to a very healthy level but did not stay off, nor did he ever repeat the weight loss - ever. For most that I know, the excess weight seems stable, just not near levels considered healthy.
One thing I have learned in this discussion is to make a distinction between the obese with the difficulty in losing weight compared with the fit with their challenge of staying fit. In this forum, most people likely range from extremely fit to fanatically fit. The self discipline referred to by the fit is to keep doing what has always worked, where life is centered around awareness, health and fitness. The obesity problem is a wholly different challenge - to change everything about a person whose lifestyle and history is very much the opposite. I have not watched the video yet but what 5rings says make sense to me. Conscious choice is only a part of behavioral choice. I assume the conscious part of the brain and nervous system is a small part (1%?) of all that is going on. The martial artist likely is unusually proficient at controlling the rest of the system, with mind very in tune with and in control of body, extremes in awareness and self control. The obese patient is, I assume, very much the opposite. Innate within us, someone else mentioned, is the subconscious survival urge to eat all that you can, when you can, because it might not be there tomorrow.
Anther observation is that with a smoker, an alcoholic, a coke, meth or heroin addict after withdrawal and treatment, if successful, would hopefully never try it or use again. With food, it is necessary and keeps getting reintroduced. It would be like training an alcoholic or addict to get high in moderation 3 times a day with complete self control instead of quitting.
'Eat less. Move more...all these overweight people never thought of that either.'
Doc, It doesn't work if they only think about it, they have to do it for it to work.
Same advice might likely apply to most knee, hip, back issues - the load bearing areas of the body being asked to carry the wrong sized load. Also the location of the load moves outward with increases in size. Just tell them to lose the excess baggage and get back to you... I think you will lose your license if you do. They are looking for staples and pills by the time they come to you for weight loss. Sometimes that is what they need.
My grandpa always enjoyed telling us that in the early 1960s I think, WAY before warning labels, his doctor told him to quit smoking - 'Neal, those cigarettes are going to kill you.' No one told him about addiction or offered him patches, pills or hypnosis, but he did quit - right then. Everybody is different.
The powerline link will save you from a signup and age check at youtube.
A very worthy cause, I admire these brave protesters and the work that they do.
"A group of feminists called Femen went topless at an event at the Iranian embassy to protest the sentence of death by stoning that Iran meted out to Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. Few things attract attention like a group of topless women; you can see what happened in this brief, somewhat-explicit video:" http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2010/11/027685.php
In a series of posts earlier this year in which I discussed the growing list of fatal flaws in healthcare reform, I opined that "the defects of this legislation are so massive and pervasive that it will never see the light of day." Arguably, that's still true today, especially as we can now add one more fatal flaw to the list: you don't have to comply with the law because you can get a waiver! To date, 111 firms have been granted waivers by the Obama administration, and the list is sure to grow by leaps and bounds. The very fact that many firms need to apply for waivers is good evidence that ObamaCare is fatally flawed. To celebrate the increasing likelihood of ObamaCare's eventual demise, let me recap the fatal flaws as I see them:
Fatal flaw #1: The penalty imposed for not buying a policy is very likely to be less than the cost of insurance for a great many people. This, combined with the requirement that insurance companies may not deny coverage to anyone with a pre-existing condition, means that a large number of people will forgo signing up for a policy, knowing that they a) will save money and b) can always sign up for insurance if they turn out to develop a serious medical condition. Thus, the actual revenues will far way short of projections.
Fatal flaw #2: The government has no ability to enforce the penalty for noncompliance.
Fatal flaw #3: Mandating that people buy a health insurance policy simply because they are alive is arguably unconstitutional. It is also a way of hiding the fact that young people will effectively be paying a huge new tax in order to subsidize older people.
Fatal flaw #4: Regulating the price which insurance companies must charge for policies, coupled with a requirement that companies must rebate to their customers the amount by which their loss ratios fall below 90%, effectively turns these companies into government-run enterprises and would likely result in the effective nationalization of the healthcare industry. That is a violation of the Fifth Amendment, and of a Supreme Court requirement "that any firm in a regulated market be allowed to recover a risk-adjusted competitive rate of return on its accumulated capital investment."
Fatal flaw #5: A government-imposed restructuring of the healthcare industry can't possibly improve our healthcare system, and is extremely likely to make it worse. As Don Boudreaux has noted, "Trying to restructure an industry that constitutes one-sixth of the U.S. economy is ... so complicated that it's impossible to accomplish without risking catastrophic failure."
Fatal flaw #6: In cases wherein companies find that complying with the law would result in large increases in healthcare premiums that would threaten employees' access to a plan, the Dept. of Health and Human Services may grant a waiver to the company. As evidence of the first five fatal flaws accumulates, and as healthcare insurance companies continue to raise premiums to pay for the unintended consequences of government attempting to regulate an entire industry and hundreds of millions of people, more and more companies are likely to apply for waivers. At some point the whole edifice will come crashing down of its own weight.
I have a more detailed discussion of each of these flaws here, here, here, here, and here.
UPDATE: Lest I be accused of offering only non-constructive criticism, I refer readers to previous posts about the right way to reform healthcare, here, here, and here.
"We think improvements in tax, spending and regulatory policies must take precedence in a national growth program, not further monetary stimulus."
- I couldn't agree more
The Fed response hit the exact same note Bernancke hit earlier, referring to their dual mission, employment and currency. [The Fed]"is confident that it has the tools to unwind these policies at the appropriate time".
Right. Don't suppose anyone there remembers 10.8% unemployment of 1981-1983 while we used those 'tools' to 'unwind' the previously excessive, expansionary policies. If we have those types of increases coming on top of this type of underlying unemployment, 12.5% unemployment looks possible to me in the aftermath of this fool's game. -------------- http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/11/15/open-letter-to-ben-bernanke/
The following is the text of an open letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke:
We believe the Federal Reserve’s large-scale asset purchase plan (so-called “quantitative easing”) should be reconsidered and discontinued. We do not believe such a plan is necessary or advisable under current circumstances. The planned asset purchases risk currency debasement and inflation, and we do not think they will achieve the Fed’s objective of promoting employment.
We subscribe to your statement in the Washington Post on November 4 that “the Federal Reserve cannot solve all the economy’s problems on its own.” In this case, we think improvements in tax, spending and regulatory policies must take precedence in a national growth program, not further monetary stimulus.
We disagree with the view that inflation needs to be pushed higher, and worry that another round of asset purchases, with interest rates still near zero over a year into the recovery, will distort financial markets and greatly complicate future Fed efforts to normalize monetary policy.
The Fed’s purchase program has also met broad opposition from other central banks and we share their concerns that quantitative easing by the Fed is neither warranted nor helpful in addressing either U.S. or global economic problems.
Cliff Asness AQR Capital
Michael J. Boskin Stanford University Former Chairman, President’s Council of Economic Advisors (George H.W. Bush Administration)
Richard X. Bove Rochdale Securities
Charles W. Calomiris Columbia University Graduate School of Business
Jim Chanos Kynikos Associates
John F. Cogan Stanford University Former Associate Director, U.S. Office of Management and Budget (Reagan Administration)
Niall Ferguson Harvard University Author, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World
Nicole Gelinas Manhattan Institute & e21 Author, After the Fall: Saving Capitalism from Wall Street—and Washington
James Grant Grant’s Interest Rate Observer
Kevin A. Hassett American Enterprise Institute Former Senior Economist, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve
Roger Hertog The Hertog Foundation
Gregory Hess Claremont McKenna College
Douglas Holtz-Eakin Former Director, Congressional Budget Office
Seth Klarman Baupost Group
William Kristol Editor, The Weekly Standard
David Malpass GroPac Former Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary (Reagan Administration)
Ronald I. McKinnon Stanford University
Dan Senor Council on Foreign Relations Co-Author, Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle
Amity Shlaes Council on Foreign Relations Author, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
Paul E. Singer Elliott Associates
John B. Taylor Stanford University Former Undersecretary of Treasury for International Affairs (George W. Bush Administration)
Peter J. Wallison American Enterprise Institute Former Treasury and White House Counsel (Reagan Administration)
Geoffrey Wood Cass Business School at City University London
A spokeswoman for the Fed responded:
“As the Chairman has said, the Federal Reserve has Congressionally-mandated objectives to help promote both increased employment and price stability. In light of persistently weak job creation and declining inflation, the Federal Open Market Committee’s recent actions reflect those mandates. The Federal Reserve will regularly review its program in light of incoming information and is prepared to make adjustments as necessary. The Federal Reserve is committed to both parts of its dual mandate and will take all measures to keep inflation low and stable as well as promote growth in employment. In particular, the Fed has made all necessary preparations and is confident that it has the tools to unwind these policies at the appropriate time. The Chairman has also noted that the Federal Reserve does not believe it can solve the economy’s problems on its own. That will take time and the combined efforts of many parties, including the central bank, Congress, the administration, regulators, and the private sector.”
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects (against unreasonable search/seizure)...
No. That did not protect anyone in Kelo (wrongly decided) and there was more privacy discovered in Griswold, Roe, and Lawrence decisions for examples than contained in the 4th. Can't speak for Crafty by I am saying a much greater right of privacy than the standard for which we require a search warrant. I don't know the words but an assumption of privacy, to be left alone in the pursuit of happiness, until another compelling interest becomes greater.
Not a gold standard (IMO) as in the past with dollars redeemable, putting toothpaste back in a tube, but a basket of goods where gold and commodities play a large role at telling us how we are doing with value of the dollar. They already look at that and then just choose a different path. Bernancke gave it all away in his recent explanation. His "dual mission" is dollar and employment. But the employment problem is not monetary. Re-write his mission. Bad management of the Fed is no reason to have no management or no real currency IMHO.
Elsewhere I hear hindsighters whine that Greenspan was a Republican chosen by Reagan and Bernancke was George W's choice. But Greenspan was selected for his opposition and skepticism to Reaganomics, and Bernancke was the institutional, status quo choice, not a supply sider whatsoever. His viewpoint from his last writing seems to be more from the Krugman camp, that $3 trillion in Keynesian stimulus is failing because it too small, and nothing else needs addressing.
How about selecting the best and the brightest instead and making their mission crystal clear: We want a stable currency that the whole world can count on.
I agree with Rarick 100% on the previous post here with more emphasis on pay as you go taxes, much lower rates overall, and that excessive inheritance taxes just discourage economic success. ----
Big talk this week that Obama might go along with extending tax cuts. Good decision, lousy timing after unemployment doubled over the period of promising expiration and rate increases. He can't run again or even govern if we don't grow this economy so he has no choice except over hammering out the details. The Pelosi-Reid Lame-Duck should steal this one and do it now. They should have done it when unemployment hit whatever they considered to be unacceptable, if not before.
The liberal rationale to go along is that everyone knows that you don't raise taxes in a recession. Precise definition aside, an economy with 9.6% partially measured unemployment is bad enough to follow that rule. If raising rates is 'contractionary', why would you ever do it?
What they will get wrong is to again make the rate extensions 'temporary'.
The problem is not just the marginal rates investors and businesses face, it is the unnecessary destruction that uncertainty causes. Now we are poised to repeat that mistake. Slightly higher rates the last two years might have been less damaging than not knowing the future rates. At least investors and businesses could calculate choices and make decisions.
Making tax rates 'permanent' just means eliminating automatic expiration; temporary extensions mean continuing the uncertainty depending on political winds and economic results.
Sustained growth isn't built in an uncertain system. We don't need one or two quarters of good growth or one or two years of it. We need DECADES of sustained growth and even then we still face huge fiscal challenges.
If the lame duck Dems pass on this, what should the new R congress do? In the end that depends on what they can get some Dem senators and the President to sign on with, but the starting point has to be what is right and what the economy needs. If they extend by one year they create the same uncertainty that hampered growth the past year. If they extend two years, then the second year is exactly where we were last year. That may set up another Republican year in a bad economy in 2012 but it doesn't favor sustained growth, so it is irresponsible.
The responsible action is to make current rates 'permanent' which only means subject to new congressional action at any time.
The package from a new Republican House does not have to be exactly as things were. The estate tax does not have to stay at zero, it just needs to be low and permanent and not return to 55%. The Corp rate needs to be near the OECD average or median. Any worse destroys Obam's goal of doubling exports in 5 years. Capital gains rates need to reflect no taxation for inflationary gains which are not income. And maybe rates across the board should be cut by one point or even one tenth of a point, nothing severe before real spending cuts, but make the symbolic statement that when the other team punted on growing this economy, they gave up possession of the ball.
Thanks GM and George Will. This whole episode turns my stomach over all that is wrong in this country. One is the lies - it is not all-electric. The govt money was not paid back. It doesn't save the earth etc. Two is the govt ownership, one of the most egregious of all the unconstitutional federal actions I have ever seen. Three is the tax credit. Where to start on that one? The govt pays you to buy from them. What ever happened to equal protection under the law. Pay me equally to not buy one. It's a $41k new car, have ordinary taxpayers pay rich ones?? Since we are already a TRILLION AND A HALF in deficit, no one is paying. We are just devaluing our standard of living to pretend we are paying someone to do something of no commercial or market value. Then they count the 7500 expense as a TAX CUT Four, It has absolutely no environmental value. How many Dolt buyers will have this as there only car - then refuse all air travel, home heating, air conditioning etc all the other 'sources' of carbon. It is a bunch of BS. Even the plug goes into a carbon based coal supply while drag our feet another decade with no new nuclear.
If you believe the pathological science, the tax credit should go only to people who will go 100% off the grid, which of course is illegal in most of this country.
"no quick, easy, inexpensive, unobtrusive methods of screening passengers and cargo"
That's right. I hate to be facetious but we are getting to the point where we might just as well walk through airport screening buck naked. My answer has been mostly to drive which unfortunately increases the time and limits the distance I can travel.
Some improvements it seems to me could be made in identifying, discriminating and priortizing the passengers screened, and with those who packed, sealed and certified the cargo. For example, my sister who travels on business every week of the year should mostly have to just voluntarily prove that she is who she is, and speed through the fast lane. A frequently screened law abiding traveler with no suicidal leaning and no demographic or otherwise tendency toward blowing up planes doesn't need every crevice examined as closely as the unidentified or higher risk passenger. If I fly only once a year maybe they look a little closer because security doesn't know me. And if you are a young male of Saudi or Yemen origin, expired visa, one way cash ticket and ties to jihad, sorry but expect a closer look. If the science and the data supports discrimination, then discriminate. Our military discriminates what countries we go into. Marketers discriminate the markets they go into. Criminal investigators discriminate where they look for clues. Screeners need to discriminate at least to some degree or else fewer people and packages are going to be transported.
The problem widens as screening has moved to government buildings and to everywhere terrorists will choose to target next.
If I read this correctly, Obama was arguing on behalf of Big Auto which is partly US government owned that a foreign nation Korea should LOWER its emissions standards to accept American cars. But at home he wants to shut down those same companies from building those same cars BECAUSE of emissions with Cap Trade legislation, Kyoto targets, energy taxes, EPA rulings, etc. Unbelievable.
Maybe a little bipolar is mixed with the narcissism identified in the previous post?
Anyone who can remember the heating and air conditioning capability of an old air-cooled VW might wonder what heat or even defrost capability you will have in your all-electric car. I also wonder how the already short range might be affected by running the AC at full blast. Don't get me wrong. I love electric vehicles, just not when I need to go fast, go far, carry a load, pull a boat or travel in foul weather.
While our progressive-in-chief and his entourage are jetting the globe, hard core liberals here in the north country are wishing they had put chains on their bicycle tires and sand and salt on their bake trails last night before the seasons changed so quickly and so drastically:
http://www.startribune.com/ (Minneapolis paper, current lead story) SNOW EMERGENCIES DECLARED Foot of snow; thousands without power The largest November snowfall in two decades stormed across Minnesota on Saturday, dumping a foot of snow in parts of the Twin Cities. | Statewide warnings.
"private property which extends further than the human eye can see...Do I have [a right of] privacy?"
We will see what GM and others say. I say yes. Of course you have that right, up and until it conflicts with some other more compelling right of someone else. Let's say that law enforcement has a reason to believe armed bank robbers may be hiding out there or that forest fire officials have reason to believe a fire may may spread from there. People also have the right to have bank robberies pursued and forest fires prevented. That does not eliminate your right, it just may in rare cases supersede it.
I recall county officials used to write to my uncle regarding a little used family lake cabin that we needed to update an old septic system to newer standards. My uncle, a 9-term county attorney of a nearby county, would answer them with two questions. He wanted to know why he hadn't seen any report showing that the property was polluting in any way, and secondly he wanted them to refresh his memory with a copy of a letter signed by him giving them the permission they need to go on the property to conduct such a study, because he certainly didn't recall granting that permission. It never went any further than that except that after he passed away the septic system suddenly needed upgrading. If they had pressed on with legal action, I doubt he could have stopped them, but I think the question goes to Crafty's point, what right do they have to enter (observe, run tests) and what right does the property owner have to prevent them?
"there is a reasonable expectation of privacy in the public sphere if there is no one in sight"
I think so. GM sees this I think from a different perspective. If you are a suspect in a recent armed robbery, other competing rights come into play. But under ordinary circumstances, in a wilderness area or park, others have the same right to be there and enjoy nature and privacy, but not a right to follow or snoop on you. Stalking laws are based on that exact unenumerated right of privacy, everywhere you go. Federal employees in a national forest likewise have a right to be there, to go about their business protecting trees, enforcing rules, doing their specific job, but don't otherwise have any right to mess with your privacy, follow you or observe you without official reason. There might be an expectation that forest officials could stop by your campsite briefly to see if camping and fire rules are complied with, for example, but not to pull up a chair and observe continuously. That would be an obvious violation of an unemumerated right as you correctly suggest, IMHO.
In a slightly different context, 5rings wrote: "he who treats the site of pain is lost".
Under that philosophy or similar, I did not approve of a doc treating the consequences of what was happening before we attacked the likely causes.
My suspicion was exactly what GM posted, the over-weighted backpack. Add to that study habits that include lying sideways and contorted on a bed or on the floor leaning unsupported against something - for hours. Not exactly on ergonomic design. Never using the chair and drafting table I measured, built, adjusted to fit her.
A lot of it goes back to the textbook racket. There is no reason these kids couldn't be just carrying the pages or chapter they need for each class or just access it all online, instead of carrying 6-8 full textbooks everyday, every where they go. Second idea would be something with wheels pulled like a flight attendant's carry on bag. There was no way she was going to be first to change book carrying habits.
As an aside, same was true with hockey gear. People think hockey is dangerous but I like to joke that 80% of the injuries really come just from lugging the gear in and out of the arena. Athletes too proud to use wheels. A couple of years ago I started noticing all the new expensive hockey bags have wheels.
"China will overtake the US as the world’s biggest economy by 2012, or within two years."
Put me down as ... not buying it. US GDP is 3 1/2 times that of China. I don't think the currency under-valuation is off by 3 1/2 fold.
Strong dollar or weak dollar? Please think about it - which is better? No country ever devalued its way to prosperity. A well known adage. Yes a weak currency helps the exporter to win the business but only in the same way that lowering your price does. Lowering your price means you make less. Then you invest back in that economy and it costs you more. Right? Undervaluation doesn't lead to prosperity according to (all?) economists. Why would massive undervaluation be a good thing from anyone's point of view? In business, why would anyone want to be more than a hair in price under their nearest competitor? --- From one of the comments at the link: "Best thing in this article is the photo - look closely." - (Obama is bowing to a totalitarian dictator.)
I always wonder what is the correct category for Ronald Reagan speeches. He deserves founding fathers status or a place of his own. With Marco Rubio, he fits just fine under 'the way forward' but it looks to me like at this point in his career deserves a category of his own or could share easily share one with the Gipper.
Anyone who remembers Nov-Dec 2000 with the Florida recount bouncing from the Sec. of State to the candidates' attorneys to the Florida Supreme Court to the hanging chads and mistaken Buchanan votes in Palm Beach County to the absentee military vote controversy to the uneven recounts from Miami Dade and Broward unlike the rest of the state and then up to the Supreme Court where two different questions are settled with two different votes and the recount ends with Bush (rightly)awarded the President in total anger and disbelief by the other side... anyone who remembers all of that should appreciate that within one decade a 39 year old son of an exiled maid and a bartender is elected U.S. Senator from Florida - by a margin of a MILLION VOTES - over a second place Republican sitting Governor and third place sitting Democratic Congressman. In his victory speech he asked his supporters to pray that he never lets Washington change him and with this speech introduces himself to the nation along with the serious challenge the new congress faces.
My first criteria for leadership of the movement is the ability to articulate freedom. This is what I mean by that!
"1. Secure the border. 2. Prosecute the employers of illegal aliens 3. Empower local level law enforcement to enforce the laws against illegal immigration. 4. Cut off all welfare, medical benefits to illegals. Make these stick and the vast majority will self deport."
- I am confident that we can get you, me and everyone to the right of you and me, (not exactly a controlling majority) to support this. Point 4 is not going to happen, therefore mass self-deportation is not going to happen. Only the people who wanted to work would leave. During the heated debates for point 4, we will drop our percentages to single digits, lose all branches and return to my plan b: lose the country, buy gold and go underground ourselves.
"I will clarify that I do not fail to distinguish the difference between marijuana and hard drugs."
Making that distinction and moving toward decriminalization over legalization, maintaining some stigma, maybe we could come to some kind of cease fire here.
Couple that with a recognition that very small personal amounts in your home, growing on your property or even in your personal vehicle if not connected with another driving error or crime would be out of the jurisdiction of an officer or prosecutor of a limited government.
"Rewarding illegal immigration is corrosive to the rule of law."
I agree, but what then? The status quo IS an acceptance of illegality. Mass deportation is not going to happen. If Republicans write the bill, new border enforcement could actually come ahead of other provisions. I'm suggesting some sort of documentation agreement tough enough to be hated by extreme groups but to put some kind of offer on the table to bring an underworld out of the shadows within 10 years, I would say, before the next census. The last census was a missed opportunity. For security alone, we should know who is here.
Perhaps renewable work papers with some enforceable criteria, some deportation, and never citizenship or voting for anyone who entered illegally and won't go back to re-apply.
The other path I see is to ignore the problem, let Dems win in 2012 - all branches, buy gold, allow the collapse, and go underground ourselves.
Stupid needs to hurt instantly. If a 2-year old puts a hand on a hot stove, the kid screams and pulls the hand off the stove. He doesn't leave his hand on the stove until it is charred and smoldering. These housing market mistakes didn't need to go into the tens of trillions of dollars of damage. We constantly insulate economic errors from correction or consequence, and that only makes everything much much worse.
Everybody makes mistakes. Instant correction makes them stay small. In prosperous times we wanted a wider cross-section of America to become home owners. But a home owner doesn't become a home owner by government decree unless you eliminate the meaning of the term. First you build up your education and then your income. Then you build up your credit while you live beneath your means (imagine that!) and save up your down payment. By then you have developed the level of commitment, maturity and responsibility to pursue a 30 year plus life decision and stick with it. Shortcut that and you haven't. Borrow 100% or more and you aren't a homeowner. If we artificially drive up the price of homes, we aren't helping people get in. If we make the interest rate on savings 0% we aren't helping them save. Take away the right to foreclose and we don't have mortgages. Policy error, policy error, policy error.
Forrest Gump could have figured this out better than the current class of clowns.
"While I place great importance on demographics (indeed, we have a thread here on exactly that) and recognize the role baby boomers in the US economy, I would ascribe the over-supply of large lot family homes to government intervention into the market place. We may not yet fully realize just how heavy the misallocation of resources due to this intervention has been."
- I will buy that, though I would say people were building and living further out because they wanted to (distance from decaying core became a good thing), but they borrowing and spending absurd amounts for those homes because of artificially and temporarily low rates. Then of course the over-construction due to failed monetary policy is necessarily followed by total unemployment of that sector for both labor and capital, while the Fed chief claims that full employment is half of his dual mission. What else did they think would follow artificial stimulation?
Booms and busts are NOT the natural business cycle. They are the direct result of governments trying to avoid and delay the effects of constant and ongoing natural corrections. -----
Palin and Zoellick (President of World Bank) may be ahead of the curve on this, but we were all over it 3 days ahead of them. Again, nice to see famous people are reading and paying attention to the Dog Brothers Public Forum.
Put me with Crafty here, it was the tampering (to put it lightly) with the market to create defective underlying assets, not the packaging of the product that caused failure.
I recall a Dem friend blaming gas prices (under Bush) on greed. Oil companies are doing this and oil companies are doing that, as if that inspiration came on suddenly. Excuse me but greed (self interest / profit motive) was the only thing that remained constant during that market turmoil.
Competition is what squeezes out excess profits (in housing, healthcare, investment banking, manufacturing, energy, anything) and it is usually excessive government regulations that prevent a price-competitive environment from forming.
A well articulated, optimistic economic message gets you up to mid-30s percent of Hispanic vote on a good year. Those numbers and Crafty's earlier post confirm what I suspected about Cuban Americans. They are not politically connected to other Hispanics.
"Texas Governor Rick Perry won 38% of the Hispanic vote"
"Marco Rubio won 40% of the non-Cuban Hispanic vote in Florida"
As I suspected, Marco Rubio's ethnic and culture advantage with Hispanics is worth about 2 points outside of Florida though his across the board appeal is very high.
Republicans need to consider (again) getting out ahead of their opponents with a passable 'documentation' solution that improves the status quo. There isn't going to be mass deportation and Republicans can't simultaneously play to the resentment of illegals and hope for increasing their Hispanic support.
We need a settlement framework that will give us a shot at winning more than 40% of the national Hispanic vote without tearing apart the coalition and losing people with the concerns that CCP has very well expressed here. I know Rove and McCain types already tried. It needs to be a much tougher, longer term agreement (IMHO).
I'm sure about all of those specifics, but in general I agree - ten times. ---- "7. The deflationary tendency in the US, such as it is, is mainly demographic: as the Boomers retire, they sell real assets (the US may have a 40% oversupply of large-lot family homes by 2020)"
This one in particular scares me. I don't know about the percentage, but the concept is true and 2020 is right around the corner. ---- "unless the price of gold were to go to $10,000 an ounce"
There you have it. It didn't occur to me that there is enough gold in world the to back up the dollar - once the dollar falls to nothing.
BBG, Enjoying the discussion and very much appreciate you correctly pointing out failure and challenging the status quo.
We are today so far away from living in a free society. I would like to examine all the laws that make it illegal to open a lemonade stand first before tackling more difficult areas. You didn't address my point (I don't think) that in this government-centric world, the cost of drugs if legalized would not decrease, and thus not remove the underworld profit structure. I'm sure you oppose the excessive sin taxes but they would most certainly accompany or follow legalization.
"I think decriminalization could occur without explicit sanctioning": This I think is more do-able. More simply would be to allow certain organic products, the ones no more dangerous than beer, to be home cultivated on a hobby scale and shared narrowly with no large transactions or cross border movement. Give the responsible user some outlet for safe recreation or relaxation, more decentralized and at zero cost to weaken the incentive and control of the underworld industry that seems to be concentrating into a very sophisticated organized crime structure.
I know there is truth in it, but I don't like the logic that the man robbed or stabbed because of the high cost of drugs. Seems to me (intuitively) that the blacksmiths migrated into other legal trades and the drug gang profiteers will move into armed robbery, kidnapping and hostage taking, or crimes I haven't thought of yet.
I don't know what to make of our high incarceration rates. So often certain incarcerations seem too minor in terms of horrible offenders freed and re-offending. I shouldn't digress here, but I personally like Singapore-style caning as an option for effective deterrence (for thuggery not usage) with less time serviced.
"Spreading the wealth - The gap between rich and poor"
JDN, Following rant not aimed at you. From what I can see your post agrees with my view. Historic efforts to spread wealth just made everything worse.
We have now found 2 ways to worsen the gap. Income inequality, we know, widens in a freely growing economy. And now we know income inequality also grows when we throw the brakes on and try to even things up.
My theory in the fall of 2008 was that inequality would drop during a crash because the invested class was losing wealth while the lower income/wealth groups just kept plugging away at their paycheck to paycheck struggles, with constant income. Not true.
Capital employs labor. 9.6% unemployment isn't the half of it. Real unemployment in some areas is closer to 20%. You can't have an all-out frontal assault on key groups that you share an economy with including employers, investors, potential employers and your largest customers and suppliers and then scratch your head wondering what happened to your own income.
The whole point of measuring inequality is a chase down the wrong street. IT IS NONE OF OUR BUSINESS WHAT SOMEONE ELSE MAKES legally and pays proper taxes on (IMHO). What the hell ever happened to a right of privacy.
"When we asked respondents to tell us what their ideal distribution of wealth was, things got even more interesting: Americans wanted the top 20% to own just over 30% of the wealth, and the bottom 40% to own about 25%. They still wanted the rich to be richer than the poor, but they wanted the disparity to be much less extreme."
This sounds like a Jaywalking question or from that Canadian video explaining that Canadian hours and and minutes need to be converted into American time.
Income disparity is a fact, and it is irrelevant because you can join in or climb to any level that you want or deserve. The questions that should be asked are things like: Are their unfair barriers to entry in investment banking and other lucrative professions? Are there public infusions of money going into colleges, medicine or other industries that skew the costs artificially upward beyond what their customers can afford to pay? Are public servants paid on a scale and structure equal and competitive to a private free market? Are people discriminated in employment or investment for wrongful reasons? Are there laws and taxes that unreasonably keep people from unleashing their entrepreneurial potential?
This is a land of opportunity, not outcome. When we focus on outcomes, we end up screwing up opportunity, and outcomes, IMHO.
The more people that are rich around you, the better your opportunities to advance as well, but it doesn't all move together in lock-step. Focus on economic opportunity and tear down the barriers.
To do that we probably need to start hundreds of thousands of other businesses that don't go quite as far but provide a good living and market value for the services of the people who work there.
People can play any role in this that they want. Inventor, banker, human resources, customer service, front desk, warehouse, sales, marketing, supplier, customer, you name it. But the jobs won't all pay the same; each needs to be competitive, and if you are taking shares instead of pay in a start up you might be measured as poor today when in fact you are not.
In a market, your services are worth what the second highest bidder is willing to pay.
Crafty's post elsewhere of the top 10% of Cubans coming to Florida in the 1950s brought a flashback to me of a Cuban American I knew in business past who had been a founder of the Intel memory systems division in the late 1960s. I will bet that few people in or outside of their group knew then the future impact of what they were doing or what wealth and jobs it would create. They just needed to believe in their own ideas and their own capbilities - in an environment with the freedom to unleash it. What is the proper worth of his contribution? I have no idea. Let a free market decide. What were the odds of any of that happening if he had stayed in a government enforced, equal society? Zero.
Hey BBG, Going back to your link regarding incarceration rates. I get the concept - that the profits from illegality support the criminal industry which supports the violence, burglary, territory wars, etc. I don't see politically how you get to full legalization. The failure of legalization of just marijuana in just California means that we aren't headed toward full legalization of everything everywhere even if that was the best solution. I also don't quite get what happens to the former drug gang underworld if we did. Do they go to trade schools and become welders and programmers and raise families in the suburbs or do they continue in crime. At the borders, it sounds like human trade is a big part of it too, so that would continue without the drugs or maybe escalate.
There are exceptions pointed out in the incarceration figures. Countries with laws far stricter than ours also have lower incarceration rates, so our incarceration rates are partly a part of some other dynamic.
There is a third world country within American inner cities that people outside these areas don't see. It is based mostly I think on the long term effects of welfare dependency but everyone has their own theory of why it exists. Girls/women have babies before they grow up and get a free pass for it. Men are unneeded and available for whatever the temptation is that comes their way. What we call juvenile crime includes 13-17 1/2 year olds that haven't reported to a parent authority for years, if ever.
I know a lot of drug money comes from executives and rich kids in rich suburbs, people in any walk of life, but a whole lot of it also comes from free money that we pass around. If women with children did not get a free pass, men would have to shape up and get a job, a car, a home and maybe a marriage in order to knock up women. Not so much hit and run. George Gilder among others wrote books on this subject. If you hold people more personally accountable for productive behavior, they have less time and inclination for the rest of it.
One thing I don't like about legalization is the sanctioning aspect. What might be a sweet or pleasant smell to me in one situation is not something I want to run across out with my daughter or advertised on prime time television. Another thing I don't like about it is government control. Why do you think the price would go down? The authorities we have now will not allow that to happen. They argue for higher sin taxes on beer supported by studies that as we keep raising the price, the quantity that gets to underage drinkers goes down. That would only widen and deepen under 'legalization'. That is not legalization (IMO). Tax laws alone would be enough drug deals to stay underworld. http://www.ehow.com/list_7289139_minnesota-marijuana-laws.html "States such as Minnesota, failure to comply with the state’s drug tax law may result in a defendant facing an additional fine of up to $14,000 and seven years in jail."
I favor limited decriminalization and the lowering or rightsizing of prison sentences to match the damage or cost to society. I could see how full legalization might fit acceptably into a lower taxed, personally accountable, otherwise free society, but I don't see how it would work in ours.
I agree with your definition. Drug use becomes abuse as soon as it starts to screw up other important aspects of your life.