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Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #950 on: August 01, 2011, 12:21:09 AM »


In one of the illuminating, unscripted moments of the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama said—much to the dismay of his core constituency—that the Reagan presidency had been "transformational" in a way that Bill Clinton's hadn't. Needless to say, Mr. Obama aspired to a transformational presidency of his own.

He had risen against the background of a deep economic recession, amid unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; he could be forgiven the conviction that the country was ready for an economic and political overhaul. He gave it a mighty try. But the transformational dream was not to be. The country had limits. Mr. Obama couldn't convince enough Americans that the twin pillars of his political program—redistribution at home, retrenchment abroad—are worthy of this country's ambitions and vocation.

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Associated Press
Temperament mattered. Ronald Reagan was the quintessential optimist, his faith in America boundless. He had been given his mandate amid economic distress—the great inflation of the 1970s, high unemployment and taxation—and a collapse of American authority abroad. Through two terms and a time of great challenges, he had pulled off one of the great deeds of political-economic restoration. He made tax cuts and economic growth the cornerstone of that recovery. Economic freedom at home had a corollary in foreign affairs—the pursuit of liberty, a course that secured a victorious end to the Cold War. The "captive nations" were never in doubt, American power was on the side of liberty.

By that Reagan standard, Mr. Obama has been a singular failure. The crippling truth of the Obama presidency is the pessimism of the man, the low expectations he has for this republic. He had not come forth to awaken this country to its stirring first principles, but to manage its decline at home and abroad. So odd an outcome, a man with an inspiring biography who provides no inspiration, a personal story of "The Audacity of Hope" yielding a leader who deep down believes that America's best days are behind it.

Amid the enthusiasm of his ascent to power, the choreography of a brilliant campaign, and a justifiable sense of pride that an African-American had risen to the summit of political power, it had been hard to tease out the pessimism at the core of Mr. Obama's vision. His economic program—the vaunted stimulus, the bailout of the automobile industry, the determination to overhaul the entire health-care system—gave away a bureaucratic vision: It was rule by emergency decree, as it were. No Reaganesque faith in the society for this leader.

In the nature of things, Mr. Obama could not take the American people into his confidence; he could not openly take up the thesis of America's decline. But there was an early signal, in April 2009 in Strasbourg, during a celebration of NATO's 60th anniversary, when he was confronted with the cherished principle of American "exceptionalism."

Asked whether he believed in the school of "American exceptionalism" that sees America as "uniquely qualified to lead the world," he gave a lawyerly answer: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." We were not always going to be right, he added, "all have to compromise and that includes us."

Events would supply evidence of Mr. Obama's break with the history of America's faith in liberty in distant lands. The herald of change was at heart a man who doubted the ability of political freedom to skip borders, and to bring about the emancipation of peoples subjected to brutal tyrannies. The great upheaval in Iran in the first summer of his presidency exposed the flaws and contradictions of the Obama diplomacy.

A people had risen against their tyrannical rulers, but Mr. Obama was out to conciliate these rulers. America's support wouldn't have altered that cruel balance of force on the ground. But henceforth it would become part of the narrative of liberty that when Iran rose in rebellion, the pre-eminent liberal power sat out a seminal moment in Middle Eastern history.

In his encounters with the foreign world, Mr. Obama gave voice to a steady and unsettling expression of penance. We had made our own poor bed in distant lands, Mr. Obama believed. We had been aggressive and imperial in the wars we waged, and in our steady insistence that our way held out the promise for other nations. In that narrative of American guilt, the Islamic world was of central importance. It was in that vast, tormented world that Mr. Obama sought to make his mark, it was there he believed we had been particularly egregious.

But the truth of it, a truth that would erupt with fury in the upheaval of that Arab Spring now upon us, is that the peoples of that region needed our assistance and example. This was the Arabs' 1989, their supreme moment of historical agency, a time when younger people broke with their culture's history of evasion and scapegoating. For once the "Arab Street" was not gripped by anti-Zionism and anti-Americanism, for once it wasn't looking beyond its geography for alien demons. But we could not really aid these rebellions, for our touch, Mr. Obama insisted, would sully them. These rebellions, his administration lamely asserted, had to be thoroughly indigenous.

We had created—and were spooked by—phantoms of our own making. A visit last month to Syria's embattled city of Hama by U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford ought to have shattered, once and for all, the thesis of a rampant anti-Americanism in Arab lands. The American envoy was given a moving reception, he was met with flowers and olive branches by those struggling to end the tyranny of the Assad family. News of America's decline had not reached the streets of Hama. The regime may have denied them air and light and knowledge, but they knew that in our order of nations America remains unrivalled in the hope it holds out for thwarted populations.

Americans' confident belief in the uniqueness, yes the exceptionalism, of their country, rested on an essential faith in liberty, and individualism and anti-statism at home, and in the power of our example, and muscle now and then, in foreign lands. Mr. Obama is ill-at-ease with that worldview. Our country has had pessimism on offer and has invariably rejected it. At crucial points in its history, it has remained unshaken in the belief that tomorrow can be better.

In 2008, shaken by a severe economic recession and disillusioned by a difficult war in Iraq, Americans voted for charisma and biography. The electorate could not be certain of the bet it made, for Mr. Obama had been agile, by his own admission he had been a blank slate onto which his varied supporters could project their hopes and preferences. Next time around, it should be easier. The man at the helm has now played his hand.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution and co-chairman of Hoover's Working Group on Islamism and the International Order.
Power User
Posts: 7827

« Reply #951 on: August 06, 2011, 09:13:46 AM »

Well I dunno. Every time I see Brock STRUT up to the podium all I can think of is Basketball and hip hop with that walk of his.  Does this make me racist?

Having liberal celebrities to the WH is common and a symptom of one of the things wrong with our political system in my opinion which surely many will disagree.   I know first amendment and the rest.....   

Beyond the fact that many "hip-hoppers" steal material for the music (as well as practically everyone else in the music industry) via webs of organzied crime, that many got their start in more legitimate business by first making fortunes selling drugs as part of gangs, is the *annoying access celebrities in the entertainment industry have to politicians to begin with.  It is all about the money*.

We don't have to look overseas to find corruption.  Just look at DC.  Of course then again there is no more corrupt politics than local politics:

****Fox News' criticism of the Obama administration is becoming more than a Common problem.

The rapper Common, you may recall, drew heated commentary from the cable network for his invitation to take part in a White House poetry night. And Eric Bolling, a host on the Fox Business network, faced allegations of racism in May after referring to the White House as the "Hizzouse," "Hizzy" and "The Big Crib," and guests of the administration as "hoods" on the air.

On Thursday, a Fox News opinion website called Fox Nation aggregated a "Playbook" column by Politico's Mike Allen about President Barack Obama's 50th birthday bash, changing Allen's typically long headline with this:

'Obama's Hip-Hop BBQ Didn't Create Jobs'

The private party included dinner ("BBQ chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta, salad") in the Rose Garden was attended by Obama's staff and celebrities including Al Sharpton, Jay-Z,  Chris Rock, Charles Barkley, Steve Harvey, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson. There were performances by Stevie Wonder, R&B singer Ledisi, jazz legend Herbie Hancock. A DJ "played Motown, hip-hop, and '70s and '80s R&B."

"The president asked everyone to dance -- and they did!"

The headline, not surprisingly, immediately sparked renewed charges of racism against the network. But Fox is standing by it.

Bill Shine, Fox executive vice president of programming in charge of the Fox Nation site, defended the decision in a statement to The Cutline: "We used the hip-hop reference per Politico's Playbook story this morning which stated 'Also present: Chicago pals, law-school friends, donors--and lots of kids of friends, who stole the show by doing dance routines to the hip-hop songs, in the center of the East Room.'"

The network has shut off further comments on the article, which were becoming incendiary.

"We found many of the comments to be offensive and inappropriate and they have been removed," Shine said.

Reached by The Cutline, Mike Allen declined comment on the Fox treatment of his piece.

But the incident is proving to be entertaining fodder in other Washington media circles. Talking Points Memo started a #HipHopBBQActs hashtag for Twitter users to come up with imaginary names for "grill-themed" rap performers, such as "KRS-A1" or "Too $hortribs."****

Power User
Posts: 9464

« Reply #952 on: August 09, 2011, 12:52:47 PM » | Random thoughts on the passing scene:
By Thomas Sowell

The next time a member of the British royal family gets married, I hope they elope and spare us all another 24/7 media orgy.

Does the "not guilty" verdict in the Casey Anthony child murder trial mean that the jury succumbed to the confusion between "beyond a reasonable doubt" and "beyond any conceivable doubt"? The word "reasonable" is not put in there just for decoration.

We seem to be living in an age when nobody can be bothered to answer their telephone, but everybody has a recorded message telling us how important our phone call is to them.

President Obama often talks about wanting to raise taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" but — in his actual tax proposals — higher taxes usually begin with couples earning $250,000 between them. Apparently that makes you a millionaire or a billionaire.

It doesn't seem very scientific to have a good-looking nurse taking a man's blood pressure.

As the British have lost their empire and, more important, lost their respect for laws and standards, Britannia has gone from ruling the waves to waiving the rules.

The difference between mob rule and democracy was never more sharply demonstrated than by labor unions' attempts to prevent the Wisconsin voters' elected representatives from carrying out their official duties at the state Capitol. What would it matter what the voters want if any mob can stop it from happening?

My favorite birthday card this year said on the outside, "Ageing is Inevitable" — and, on the inside: "Maturity is optional."

Theodore Roosevelt said that his foreign policy was to speak softly and carry a big stick. Barack Obama's foreign policy in Libya has been to speak loudly and carry a little stick. Too often Obama's foreign policy around the world looks like children happily playing with fire.

Every weekday publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". HUNDREDS of columnists and cartoonists regularly appear. Sign up for the daily update. It's free. Just click here.

Class-warfare politics is bad enough when it is for real. But often it is as phony as a three-dollar bill, when the same politicians pass high tax rates on "the rich" to win votes — and then get financial support from "the rich" to create loopholes that enable them to avoid paying those high tax rates.

It is amazing how many people seem to think that, if you give them your phone number or e-mail address, this means that they are authorized to pass them on to others.

Three little words — "We the people," the opening words of the Constitution of the United States — are the biggest obstacle to achieving the political goals of the left. For that, they must move decisions away from "We the people" — from individuals to government; from elected officials to unelected judges; and from national institutions to international institutions like the United Nations — all safely remote and insulated from "We the people."

Some hotels have been called "historic." But to me that just means old. I don't like staying in old-fashioned hotels. There is usually a reason why those fashions went out of fashion.

Learned scholars still debate the reasons for the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Learned scholars of the future, looking back on our decline and fall, may simply be baffled as to how we could have been so stupid.

Awkward and uncomfortable hospital gowns for patients just add a needless complication to the problems of people who are already sick. Surely someone could design something less bothersome.

I have never believed for a moment that Barack Obama has the best interests of the United States at heart.

Many liberals who consider themselves friends or allies of blacks are usually friends or allies of those particular blacks who are doing wrong things, often at the expense of other blacks.

At one time, it was well understood that adversity taught valuable lessons, which reduce the probability of repeating foolish decisions. But, today, the welfare state shields people from the consequences of their own mistakes, allowing irresponsibility to continue and to flourish among ever wider circles of people.

Amid all the concerns about the skyrocketing government debt, a front-page headline in the Wall Street Journal said: "Families Slice Debt to Lowest In 6 Years." It is remarkable how differently people behave when they are spending their own money compared to the way politicians behave when spending the government's money.
Power User
Posts: 7827

« Reply #953 on: August 10, 2011, 02:12:22 PM »

When I see this it kind of reminds me of the old historical film clips of Russians running through the squares during the Russian revolution - workers rights.  There is clearly a parallel.  Get the aristocrats, the rich.  We deserve more.  Socialism proves time and again what we get is not nearly as much trickle down wealth as much as trickle up poverty.  History repeats itself.  We need candidates who will make this clear.

****Economic Uncertainty Leading to Global Unrest
Published: Tuesday, 9 Aug 2011 | 3:35 PM ET Text Size By: Mark Koba
Senior Editor

London is reeling from three nights of rioting that's poured hundreds of people into the streets, leaving several local neighborhoods in shambles. One man is dead, dozens injured and arrested. 
Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images
Two police cars and a large number of buildings were on Saturday set ablaze in north London following a protest over the fatal shooting of a 29-year-old man in an armed stand-off with officers. The patrol cars were torched as dozens gathered outside the police station on the High Road in Tottenham.

The protests have now spread to other cities, with violence reported in parts of Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol.

Great Britain and other parts of the world are experiencing unrest at a time of global economic uncertainty and stock market volatility.

Here's a look at what's happening around the world and how economic downturns are bringing protestors into the streets.

Great Britain

Police in London say the violence began during a vigil for a man, Mark Duggan, who’d been killed by police. However, those on the streets say what's happening goes beyond one man's death.

In late June, half the public schools in Britain where closed by a massive protest over public pensions cuts, including three major teachers' unions, customs and immigration officers, and air traffic controllers. Some 750,000 people took part in the protest.

London's press has reported that discontent has been simmering among Britain's urban poor for years, in neighborhoods like Tottenham, where the riots started.

But as one man told NBC News about an economic protest two months ago, "There was not a word in the press about our protests. Last night (Saturday) a bit of rioting and looting and now look around you."

In response to the violence, Prime Minister David Cameron has said law and order will prevail in Great Britain and he's doubled the amount of police officers in the streets and instituted curfews for young adults.

Cameron's conservative government is under fire for spending cuts to social programs in order to help reduce the country's debt. Among those hit the hardest are large numbers of minority youths who have been at the forefront of the unrest.


Some 250,000 people took to the streets of Tel Aviv, Israel, on Saturday over the rising cost of living. Demonstrations actually began last month when a few people set up tents in an expensive part of Tel Aviv to protest rising property prices.

The protests have moved to other cities in Israel, where some 50,000 people rallied.

The demonstrations have turned into a major challenge for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Polls released last week show his approval ratings have dropped while support for the protesters is high.

Netanyahu has announced a series of reforms including freeing up land for construction and offering tax breaks. But the reforms have only increased anger in the streets, according to reports.

Here are some of the demands from protestors, according to Reuters:

Increase personal tax brackets for top earners
Enshrine the right to housing in the law; introduce rent controls; boost mortgage relief
Stop further privatization of things such as health facilities
Provide free education for all from the age of three months
Raise the minimum wage to 50 percent of the average wage
Spain, Greece , Portugal

All three of these European Union nations have experienced protests and rioting in reaction to government austerity programs and bad economic conditions.

Aris Messinis | AFP | Getty Images
Demonstrators shout slogans against government's recent austerity economy measures during a protest in Athens.

In late June, riots broke out in Athens and other parts of Greece as the country's parliament voted to approve severe cutbacks in government spending.

Dozens were hurt and businesses destroyed as police battled rioters with tear gas and night sticks.

Greek lawmakers made the cuts in order to receive more bailout money from the International Monetary Fund and European Union—or run the risk of defaulting on their debts.

In Spain, thousands of people turned out in late May to protest the country's 21 percent unemployment rate.

They also demonstrated against government corruption and austerity measures to reign in the country's debt. Hundreds of people set up tents in a Madrid square and spent a week there in protest.

Portugal saw massive strikes and protests last March in response to government spending cuts. At least 200,000 people gathered in Lisbon.

The Philippines

Thousand of workers took to the streets throughout the country in May of this year to march for higher pay. They demanded better wages in light of rising inflation, including higher oil prices.

They called on the government of President Benigno Aquino III to do more to help protect jobs.

In reaction, the government held job fairs as hundreds of workers have been laid off as the economy slumps. Workers say that effort has fallen far short of what they want.


Nearly 1,000 cab drivers in eastern China blocked traffic and protested on Aug. 1 over rising fuel costs. It was the latest sign of discontent about the country's surging inflation.

Inflation is hitting China hard, with food prices recently increasing 12 percent. Many Chinese officials are reported concerned that inflation, along with rising property prices, could lead to even more unrest.

This past June, thousands of workers battled for three days with police in the capital city of the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. They were protesting declining living standards.

The recent protests can be traced back to February of this year, in what was an attempt to copy the Arab Spring uprising. That's when calls through Chinese social networks were sent out for an uprising in several local cities.

However, reports say the turnout was small in comparison to the enormous police presence and there were more clashes between journalists and officials than demonstrators.


In another legacy from the Arab Spring, protests and riots in Syria against the rule of President Bashar al-Assad have been going on for five months.

Reports say at least 1,600 people have been killed by government forces.

The demonstrations are a combination of calls for economic as well as political changes. Assad's government has promised a package of reforms including higher wages, letting political parties exist, easing restrictions on the media, and a new anti-corruption drive. But so far, none of the measures has been set in place.

Last week Assad sent troops and tanks to quell the mostly Sunni Muslim city of Hama in central Syria, and the army launched a similar assault on Sunday against Deir al-Zor.

Syria has cracked down with deadly force on protests in the past. In 1982 then-president Hafez al Assad—the father of Bashar al-Assad—sent troops into the Syrian town of Hama, killing between 10,000 and 40,000 people.

Syria's Arab neighbors as well as the United States have called for Assad to step down. He's ruled Syria for the past 11 years after succeeding his father. Assad says he has no intention of giving up his post as president.****

Power User
Posts: 15532

« Reply #954 on: August 10, 2011, 02:20:55 PM »

The capitalist system cannot feed the endless appetite of the welfare state. Europe is running out of "other people's money" and we are not far behind. A hard collision with reality is coming up.
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #955 on: August 18, 2011, 09:22:50 AM »

A once civil and orderly England was recently torn apart by rioting and looting -- at first by mostly minority youth, but eventually also by young Brits in general. This summer, a number of American cities witnessed so-called "flash mobs" -- mostly African-American youths who swarmed at prearranged times to loot stores or randomly attack those of other races and classes.

The mayhem has reignited an old debate in the West. Are such criminally minded young Americans and British turning to violence in protest over inequality, poverty and bleak opportunities? The Left, of course, often blames cutbacks in the tottering welfare state and high unemployment. The havoc and mayhem, in other words, are a supposed wake-up call in an age of insolvency not to cut entitlements, but to tax the affluent to redistribute more of their earnings to those unfairly deprived.

The Right counters that the problem is not too few state subsidies, but far too many. The growing -- and now unsustainable -- state dole of the last half-century eroded self-reliance and personal initiative. The logical result is a dependent underclass spanning generations that becomes ever more unhappy and unsatisfied the more it is given from others. Today's looters have plenty to eat. That is why they target sneaker and electronics stores -- to enjoy the perks of life they either cannot or will not work for.

We might at least agree on a few facts behind the violence. First, much of the furor is because poverty is now seen as a relative, not an absolute, condition. Per-capita GDP is $47,000 in the U.S. and $35,000 in Britain. In contrast, those rioting in impoverished Syria (where average GDP is about $5,000) or Egypt (about $6,000) worry about being hungry or being shot for their views, rather than not acquiring a new BlackBerry or a pair of Nikes. Inequality, not Tiny Tim-like poverty, is the new Western looter's complaint.

So when the president lectures about fat-cat "corporate jet owners," he doesn't mean that greed prevents the lower classes from flying on affordable commercial jets -- only that a chosen few in luxury aircraft, like himself, reach their destinations a little more quickly and easily. Not having what someone richer has is our generation's lament instead of lacking elemental shelter, food or electricity. The problem is not that the bathwater in Philadelphia is not as hot as in Martha's Vineyard, but that the conditions under which it is delivered in comparison are far more basic and ordinary.

Second, the wealthy have not set an example that hard work and self-discipline leads to well-deserved success and the good life. Recently, a drunken, affluent young prospect for the U.S. ski team urinated on a sleeping 11-year old during a transcontinental flight. And the more the psychodramas of drones like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, or some members of the royal family, become headline news, the more we see boredom and corruption among the pampered elite. The behavior of John Edwards, Eliot Spitzer, Dominique Strauss-Kahn or Arnold Schwarzenegger does not remind us that good habits of elite public figures follow from well-deserved riches and acclaim -- but only that with today's wealth and power comes inevitable license and decadence.

Third, communism may be dead, but Marxist-inspired materialism still measures the good life only by equal access to "things." We can argue whether those who loot a computer store are spoiled or oppressed. But even a person in faded jeans and a worn T-shirt can still find all sorts of spiritual enrichment at no cost in either a museum or a good book. Did we forget that in our affluent postmodern society, being poor is often an impoverishment of the mind, not necessarily the result of a cruel physical world?

Finally, there is far too much emphasis on government as the doting, problem-solving parent. What made Western civilization rich and liberal was not just free-market capitalism and well-funded constitutional government, but the role of the family, community and church in reminding the emancipated individual of an affluent society that he should not always do what he was legally permitted to. Destroy these bridles, ridicule the old shame culture of the past, and we end up with unchecked appetites -- as we now witness from a smoldering London to the flash mobbing in Wisconsin.

Our high-tech angry youth are deprived not just because their elders put at risk their future subsidies, but because they were not taught what real wealth is -- and where and how it is obtained and should be used.
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #956 on: August 22, 2011, 11:28:33 AM »
Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #957 on: August 31, 2011, 10:22:33 AM »

Tis a rare event, but I am speechless , , ,
Power User
Posts: 7827

« Reply #958 on: August 31, 2011, 10:49:18 AM »



If everyone thought like her we would be back to the stone age.

I am not sure what her alternative would be.  Someone has to build shelter and gather, grow, or hunt for food even without civilization.

She thinks people stopped working under communism?

And she might wonder why people might not want to hire her?

Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #959 on: August 31, 2011, 11:21:09 AM »

39,000+ reads too, though some may be of folks like you and me , , ,
Power User
Posts: 9464

« Reply #960 on: August 31, 2011, 12:59:54 PM »

"Why do we have to pay f*ckin rent all our lives - all our lives?  Why?  Why?? Why can't we just pay f*ckin rent for like maybe 10 years, you know, you stay in a place, you know pay f*ckin rent like 10 years and after that you shouldn't have to pay rent again ever and I mean like ever for as long as you live."

Youtube offers a sneak inside peak into my world.  sad  

Power User
Posts: 42467

« Reply #961 on: September 02, 2011, 01:11:27 PM »
Power User
Posts: 7827

« Reply #962 on: September 02, 2011, 03:07:02 PM »

"Why do we have to pay f*ckin rent all our lives - all our lives?  Why?  Why?? Why can't we just pay f*ckin rent for like maybe 10 years, you know, you stay in a place, you know pay f*ckin rent like 10 years and after that you shouldn't have to pay rent again ever and I mean like ever for as long as you live."

Well if she worked for me the answer would be simple:

Why can't I pay you a wage for ten years than you work for me forever for nothing.  I mean I shouldn't have to pay you a f* wage forever!  grin
Power User
Posts: 9464

« Reply #963 on: September 02, 2011, 11:11:20 PM »

I enjoyed the Gilder interview very much.
prentice crawford
« Reply #964 on: September 04, 2011, 12:21:19 AM »

 Obama Looking Like Job Killer In Chief
By Peter Schiff | Forbes – Fri, Sep 2, 2011tweet35Share7EmailPrintRelated Content
Obama Looking Like Job Killer In Chief
Friday morning, many on Wall Street were stunned by the big fat zero put up by the August jobs report, the worst showing in 11 months. The data convinced many previously optimistic economists that the United States will slip back into recession.

I believe that we have been in one giant recession all along that was only temporarily interrupted by trillions of useless and destructive deficit and stimulus spending.  Unfortunately, the August numbers will increase the talk of government efforts to stimulate the economy.

As President Obama prepares to unveil a new plan for the Federal Government to create jobs, evidence is rapidly piling up on how his administration is actively destroying jobs with stunning efficiency. Recent examples of this trend are enough to make anyone with even a casual respect for America’s former economic prowess hang their head in disgust.

The assault on private sector employment began in April when the democrat controlled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a complaint seeking to force Boeing aircraft to move Boeing’s newly opened non-union production facilities in South Carolina back to its union controlled plants in Washington State. Although Boeing simply says that it is looking to open a cost effective domestic manufacturing facility (an endangered species) to employ American workers, the NLRB alleges that the company was punishing union workers in Washington for past strikes.

Despite a lack of any direct evidence that Boeing was being punitive, and the fact that the company was not laying off any union workers, the NLRB has not backed down. Against little public support and nearly universal revulsion among business leaders, the NLRB is continuing its campaign to keep Boeing from exercising its freedoms and to employ people in a manner that makes sense for its business.

The Boeing move served notice that the Obama’s loyalties were firmly tied to the Union interests that were so critical to his election in 2008. This week, the anti-business tendencies of the administration came into even sharper focus.

In the telecommunications industry, service provider AT&T made the seemingly essential move in its attempt to acquire wireless specialist T-Mobile. But the Justice Department sued to block the $39 billion deal on antitrust grounds, saying that the merger between the second and fourth largest cell phone providers would unfairly restrict competition and raise prices.

In so doing, the DOJ seems to be operating under the assumption, without any direct evidence, that at least four companies are needed to provide healthy choice in the marketplace, and that three providers simply won’t cut it. More broadly, competition may increasingly come from outside the telecommunications sector (in particular from cable and satellite industries).

Plus, with the speed of technological change, who knows what types of competitors will arise in the years to come. The situation reminds me of the broken merger in 2004 and 2005 between Blockbuster Video and Hollywood Video. Based on antitrust concerns emanating from the Justice Department, Blockbuster backed off from the deal. Of course, just a few years later the whole sector was made obsolete by Netflix, and any advantage Blockbuster would have gained would have only been temporary.

In light of the current and future competition that is sure to change the way consumers talk with one another over great distances, AT&T and T-Mobile are much better positioned to survive as a combined entity. In any event if AT&T can’t buy T-Mobile, someone else will. The company’s parent, Deutsche Telecom, has stated its intention to divest itself of its American subsidiary.

So why not help American business survive in an increasingly competitive market? Most likely antitrust lawyers at the DOJ have been otherwise bored with the lack of merger deals to scrutinize (another downside to a weak economy), and this transaction just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. But the legal activism will certainly cost jobs. Even the unions recognize this and have supported the merger.

But the absurdity of the current environment reached a peak when the DOJ, and agents from, get this, the U.S. Fish and Wild Life Service, raided the Nashville factory of the legendary Gibson Guitar company. The raid resulted in agents carting off more than a half million dollars of supplies and essentially shutting the company down. The take down of one of America’s commercial icons apparently resulted from Gibson’s purchase of partially finished ebony and rosewood guitar fingerboards (these endangered trees are carefully managed) from an Indian supplier.

Now here’s the interesting part. The Indian government had issued no complaint about the transactions and there was no evidence that the company had violated U.S. law. The DOJ acted simply on suspicion that Gibson had violated Indian law. Since when do U.S. companies have to make sure that they comply with laws of every country in the world before they produce a product?

I had the good fortune on interviewing Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO of Gibson on my radio show this Thursday.

After speaking to him, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at the stunning economic incompetence of our government officials, who in the cause of arbitrary regulatory nitpicking, seem willing to sacrifice the reputation and prospects of one of the few remaining American manufacturers. God help us all.

On the other side of the coin, the government’s own efforts to create jobs in the private sector have met with little success. It was announced yesterday that Solyndra LLC of Fremont California, a manufacturer of solar panel has filed for bankruptcy protection and has laid off its remaining 1,100 workers. The development is notable because the company was a veritable poster child of the Obama Administration. The president himself visited their facilities in May of 2010 and touted the company as the template for America’s “green technology” future. As a result of its politically advantageous profile the company was able to secure $535 million in loans guaranteed by the government.

But apparently government blessing does not guarantee market success. Unfortunately, Solyndra could not sell its products profitably despite the government support and cheerleading. Instead $535 million in investment capital was diverted from potentially money making enterprises to a money losing enterprise. This is what happens when government calls the shots.

When it comes to the financial sector, the government can’t seem to decide whether it wants to preserve jobs or destroy them. After bailing out the banks three years ago (and making some of them too big to fail), it was reported today that the government is preparing to launch a multi-billion dollar lawsuit to recoup losses that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac suffered on mortgage backed bonds (loans that the government itself encouraged the banks to make). If the government were to prevail, job losses would surely emerge in the sector, and the government may need to bail out the banks once again!

So as we wait with eager anticipation as to what the President may reveal in his jobs speech next week, you can be sure that it’s not going to help America regain its competitive edge. The sooner we regard the government as a job killer rather than a job creator, the sooner we can all get back to work.

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« Reply #965 on: September 10, 2011, 07:58:45 PM »

'Let's Roll' Nation Mired In 'Let's Roll Over' Mush

Posted 09/09/2011 05:46 PM ET

Though 343 of these firefighters' comrades died when the Twin Towers fell on 9/11, there won't be any firefighters at the official Ground Zero...

Waiting to be interviewed on the radio the other day, I found myself on hold listening to a public service message exhorting listeners to go to and tell their fellow citizens how they would be observing the 10th anniversary of the, ah, "tragic events."

There followed a soundbite of a lady explaining that she would be paying tribute by going and cleaning up an area of the beach. Great! Who could object to that? Anything else?

Well, another lady pledged that she "will continue to discuss anti-bullying tactics with my grandson." Marvelous. Because studies show that many middle-school bullies graduate to hijacking passenger jets and flying them into tall buildings?

Whoa, ease up on the old judgmentalism there, pal. In New Jersey, many of whose residents were among the dead, middle-schoolers will mark the anniversary with a special 9/11 curriculum that will "analyze diversity and prejudice in U.S. history."

And, if the "9/11 Peace Story Quilt" at the Metropolitan Museum of Art teaches us anything, it's that the "tragic events" only underline the "importance of respect." And "understanding." As one of the quilt panels puts it:

"You should never feel left out

You are a piece of a puzzle

And without you

The whole picture can't be seen."

And if that message of "healing and unity" doesn't sum up what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, what does? A painting of a plane flying into a building? A sculpture of bodies falling from a skyscraper? Oh, don't be so drearily literal.

"It is still too soon," says Midori Yoshimoto, director of the New Jersey City University Visual Arts Gallery, whose exhibition "Afterward and Forward" is intended to "promote dialogue, deeper reflection, meditation and contextualization."

So, instead of planes and skyscrapers, it has Yoko Ono's "Wish Tree," on which you can hang little tags with your ideas for world peace.

What's missing from these commemorations? Firemen? Oh, please. There are some pieces of the puzzle we have to leave out.

As Mayor Bloomberg's office has patiently explained, there's "not enough room" at the official Ground Zero commemoration to accommodate any firemen. "Which is kind of weird," wrote the Canadian blogger Kathy Shaidle, "since 343 of them managed to fit into the exact same space 10 years ago."

On a day when all the fancypants money-no-object federal acronyms comprehensively failed — CIA, FBI, FAA, INS — the only bit of government that worked was the low-level unglamorous municipal government represented by the Fire Department of New York.

When they arrived at the World Trade Center the air was thick with falling bodies — ordinary men and women trapped on high floors above where the planes had hit who chose to spend their last seconds in one last gulp of open air rather than die in an inferno of jet fuel.

Far "too soon" for any of that at the New Jersey City University, but perhaps you could re-enact the moment by filling a peace tag for Yoko Ono's "Wish Tree" and then letting it flutter to the ground.

Upon arrival at the foot of the towers two firemen were hit by falling bodies. "There is no other way to put it," one of their colleagues explained. "They exploded." Any room for that on the Metropolitan Museum "Peace Quilt"? Sadly not. We're all out of squares.

What else is missing from these commemorations? "Let's Roll"? What's that — a quilting technique?

No, what's missing from these commemorations is more Muslims. I bumped into an old BBC pal the other day who's flying in for the anniversary to file a dispatch on why you see fewer women on the streets of New York wearing niqabs and burqas than you do on the streets of London. She thought this was a telling indictment of the post-9/11 climate of "Islamophobia."

I pointed out that, due to basic differences in immigration sources, there are far fewer Muslims in New York than in London. It would be like me flying into Stratford-on-Avon and reporting on the lack of Hispanics. But the suits had already approved the trip, so she was in no mood to call it off.

How are America's allies remembering the real victims of 9/11? "Muslim Canucks Deal With Stereotypes Ten Years After 9/11," reports CTV in Canada. And it's a short step from stereotyping to criminalizing. "How the Fear of Being Criminalized Has Forced Muslims Into Silence," reports The Guardian in Britain.

In Australia, a Muslim terrorism suspect was so fearful of being criminalized and stereotyped in the post-9/11 epidemic of paranoia that he pulled a Browning pistol out of his pants and hit Sgt. Adam Wolsey of the Sydney constabulary. Fortunately, Judge Leonie Flannery acquitted him of shooting with intent to harm on the grounds that "'anti-Muslim sentiment' made him fear for his safety," as Sydney's Daily Telegraph reported.

That's such a heartwarming story for this 9/11 anniversary they should add an extra panel to the peace quilt, perhaps showing a terror suspect opening fire on a judge as she's pronouncing him not guilty and then shrugging off the light shoulder wound as a useful exercise in healing and unity.

What of the 23rd Psalm? It was recited by Flight 93 passenger Todd Beamer and the telephone operator Lisa Jefferson in the final moments of his life before he cried "Let's roll!" and rushed the hijackers.

No, sorry. Aside from firemen, Mayor Bloomberg's official commemoration hasn't got any room for clergy, either, what with all Executive Deputy Assistant Directors of Healing and Outreach who'll be there.

One reason why there's so little room at Ground Zero is because it's still a building site. As I write in my new book, 9/11 was something America's enemies did to us; the 10-year hole is something we did to ourselves — and in its way the interminable bureaucratic sloth is surely as eloquent as anything Nanny Bloomberg will say in his remarks.

In Shanksville, Pa., the zoning and permitting processes are presumably less arthritic than in Lower Manhattan, but the Flight 93 memorial has still not been completed. There were objections to the proposed "Crescent of Embrace" on the grounds that it looked like an Islamic crescent pointing towards Mecca.

The defense of its designers was that, au contraire, it's just the usual touchy-feely huggy-weepy pansy-wimpy multiculti effete healing diversity mush.

It doesn't really matter which of these interpretations is correct, since neither of them has anything to do with what the passengers of Flight 93 actually did a decade ago. 9/11 was both Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid rolled into one, and the fourth flight was the only good news of the day, when citizen volunteers formed themselves into an ad hoc militia and denied Osama bin Laden what might have been his most spectacular victory.

A few brave individuals figured out what was going on and pushed back within half-an-hour. But we can't memorialize their sacrifice within a decade. And when the architect gets the memorial brief, he naturally assumes there's been a typing error and that "Let's roll!" should really be "Let's roll over!"

And so we commemorate an act of war as a "tragic event," and we retreat to equivocation, cultural self-loathing and utterly fraudulent misrepresentation about the events of the day.

In the weeks after 9/11, Americans were enjoined to ask "Why do they hate us?" A better question is: "Why do they despise us?" And the quickest way to figure out the answer is to visit the Peace Quilt and the Wish Tree, the Crescent of Embrace and the Hole of Bureaucratic Inertia.

© Mark Steyn, 2011
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« Reply #966 on: September 13, 2011, 02:53:41 PM »

Who Gives and Who Doesn't?

Nov. 28, 2006

There are a million ways to give to charity. Toy drives, food drives, school supply drives…telethons, walkathons, and dance-athons.
But just who is doing the giving? Three quarters of American families donate to charity, giving $1,800 each, on average. Of course, if three quarters give, that means that one quarter don't give at all. So what distinguishes those who give from those who don't? It turns out there are many myths about that.

Sioux Falls vs. San Francisco

We assume the rich give more than the middle class, the middle class more than the poor. I've heard liberals care more about the less fortunate, so we assume they give more than conservatives do. Are these assumptions truth, or myth?
To test what types of people give more, "20/20" went to two very different parts of the country, with contrasting populations: Sioux Falls, S.D. and San Francisco, Calif. The Salvation Army set up buckets at the busiest locations in each city -- Macy's in San Francisco and Wal-Mart in Sioux Falls. Which bucket collected more money?
Sioux Falls is rural and religious; half of the population goes to church every week. People in San Francisco make much more money, are predominantly liberal, and just 14 percent of people in San Francisco attend church every week. Liberals are said to care more about helping the poor; so did people in San Francisco give more?

It turns out that this idea that liberals give more…is a myth. Of the top 25 states where people give an above average percent of their income, 24 were red states in the last presidential election.
Arthur Brooks, the author of "Who Really Cares," says that "when you look at the data, it turns out the conservatives give about 30 percent more." He adds, "And incidentally, conservative-headed families make slightly less money."
And he says the differences in giving goes beyond money, pointing out that conservatives are 18 percent more likely to donate blood. He says this difference is not about politics, but about the different way conservatives and liberals view government.
"You find that people who believe it's the government's job to make incomes more equal, are far less likely to give their money away," Brooks says. In fact, people who disagree with the statement, "The government has a basic responsibility to take care of the people who can't take care of themselves," are 27 percent more likely to give to charity.
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« Reply #967 on: September 13, 2011, 05:12:21 PM »

While I am quite sympathetic to the conclusion, I object to the methodology.

The Salvation Army is not a charity as likely to appeal to someone from SF as from South Falls.
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« Reply #968 on: September 13, 2011, 07:45:12 PM »

November 28, 2006

Who Gives More: Democrats or Republicans?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006, at 12 noon, U.S. Eastern time
In his new book, Who Really Cares: The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism, Arthur C. Brooks presents research showing that religious conservatives are more charitable than secular liberals. He says people who support the idea that government should redistribute income are among the least likely to dig into their own wallets to help others. Included in his book is an analysis of 15 sets of data that he says all came to the same conclusion.
What are the implications of his findings? Does it matter to charities whether they get more money from Democrats or Republicans? What can be done to counter these trends? What research data was used to reach these conclusions?
Related Article
 •Charity's Political Divide (11/23/2006)
The Guest
Arthur C. Brooks is professor of public administration at Syracuse University and a frequent contributor to The Wall Street Journal. His new book, Who Really Cares, was just published by Basic Books.
A transcript of the chat follows.
Stacy Palmer (Moderator):
    Good afternoon. I'm Stacy Palmer, editor of The Chronicle of Philanthropy and am pleased to welcome you to our discussion about a new book on charitable giving that is provoking much debate around the country. We'll be taking your questions throughout the hour, so please send them in -- just click on the link on this page that says "ask a question." Mr. Brooks, thank you for joining us and could you tell us what prompted you to write this book?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Ten years ago in graduate school, I began studying the economics of nonprofits and charitable giving. Like most everybody else in the field, I looked at tax rates, deductions, exemptions, incentives. I also looked at the amount of money people gave away, and how much it could pay for in important services.
But it always seemed to me that something was missing from the scholarly discussions of charity in America. Charitable behavior is certainly affected by economic incentives, and it is an important source of money for nonprofits. But giving is, more importantly, a question of our values.
Giving is a uniquely common phenomenon in America: We give more time and money than the citizens of any other developed country. And I think this expresses some of our core values. To reduce the phenomenon of giving to money flows and tax incentives, it seemed to me, was to miss the main point of giving for so many people. When people talk about their giving, they talk about causes that really move them -- helping the poor, participating fully in their churches, or supporting a social cause their care deeply about. They talk about being their best selves, and they talk about the benefits they enjoy themselves.
Giving is a fundamental form of expression for most people, and one that transcends both consumer transactions and the ballot box. Yet I saw that as scholars and experts, we often treat it in a rather materialistic way, as just another instrument of funding or tool of public policy.
So a couple of years ago I set out to take a serious look at giving from a values perspective. Who Really Cares is the result. It lays out the best evidence -- as I see it -- about how currents in American culture today are pushing some people to give, other people not to give, and why it all matters.
That said, the book is not intended as the last word on giving values in America -- far from it. My hope is to start a conversation on the topic (like we're having here today), and with a little luck, to stimulate more research. I'd love it if, in 5 years we have a bigger knowledge about why people give and why they don't, and I can see which of the results in this book stand up to further scrutiny by scholars and practitioners.
My thanks to all of you who are making time to read the book, and to participate in this discussion.
Question from Jim Girvan, College Health Sciences Dean:
    I am intrigued by your findings and will definitely buy the book. My question is two-fold: first, as a member of family who gives a high percentage of our income to church and a rather large percentage to charity as well, my wife and I acknowledge much of our church offerings go to running the "business of the church." Do your statistics adjust for the "average 150-700 member congregation" where 70-75% of the offering monies are needed for church functions/personnel/maintenance?
Second -- My wife and I also view our taxes as one way we assist the community. By pooling monies, each of us enjoys services that few of us could afford by ourselves, and many of those services are available to those who can't pay. Is there a way your calculations could be adjusted to reflect the social welfare impact of tax monies on the populace as a whole? (remembering that I view them as donations even though I admit they are not voluntary)
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks for your questions, Jim. I agree it's important to look at giving aside from sacramental contributions to get a fair picture of things. So one of the things I do in the book is to compare secular and religious folks only in terms of explicitly nonreligious giving and volunteering. There's still a huge difference:
Religiously-observant people are generally about 10 percentage points more likely than people with "no religion" (or who never practice) to give to nonreligious causes, and about 25 points less likely to volunteer.
Regarding taxes, I think it's true that some see them as a voluntary part of the social contract to help others. The problem with trying to make a measure that combines donations with taxes is that so many people don't pay their taxes with this intent, and voluntary charity is so different in terms of deciding where and how money is spent. Still, I discuss the fact that this point has conceptual validity in some places, especially Europe where social spending really is high.
Question from Arnold Hirshon, NELINET (non-profit library consortium):
    1. Is there any evidence that conservatives generally have more disposable income, and therefore are better able to give more -- both on a dollar basis and as a percentage of income?
2. Did the study show the extent to which conservatives vs. liberals actually lend their time to help others versus open their wallets?
3. Did the study show the value of a tax benefit for conservatives versus liberals?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Great questions, Arnold. In general, there is little evidence that conservatives are richer than liberals. In the data I used in this book, conservatives earned slightly less than liberals, but donated more in each income class. Regarding volunteerism, the gap is statistically insignificant between liberals and conservatives, although adding in religion makes a gap open up (religious conservatives volunteer a lot more than secular liberals). It's not clear whether conservatives or liberals enjoy a disproportionate tax benefit from giving, although you might plausibly argue that liberals generally get a bigger benefit because they reside in greatest numbers in high-tax ("blue") states, and thus can deduct more. Still, the emerging research on tax shows that deducibility actually affects giving behavior relatively little for most folks.
Question from Kim S., consultant:
    I consider myself to be a "compassionate conservative" working in the nonprofit sector (having worked in the corporate sector for many years.) It is my impression that the nonprofit sector skews liberal/Democrat, at least at the general policy and advocacy levels. Do you agree, and if so, how can Republicans and conservatives become more of a presence, or have a stronger voice, in the nonprofit sector?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Kim, I think it's probably true that nonprofit managers fall disproportionately on the liberal side -- like academics, journalists, and others. (One big exception is certainly Evangelical and traditional Catholic clergy.) If conservatives want to change the political makeup of nonprofit management, it probably means taking areas like social entrepreneurship more seriously. An example of such an effort is the Manhattan Institute's Center for Civic Innovation.
Question from Marilyn, small Midwestern college:
    Are these two possibilities: Republicans have more money and need the tax write-offs and are more often sought out by charities; some people who describe themselves liberals (like me) share money in ways that are not recognized as charity (such as helping friends put their children through college or helping a physically handicapped co-worker pay for appropriate housing)? My husband and I also served for two years in a Christian volunteer service project, which has, as we knew it would, affected our long-term earnings and hence our retirement income.
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks, Marilyn. There's no evidence that conservatives look for (or receive) tax write-offs more than liberals do. But to your other point, it is always possible that folks like you tend to give in different ways from conservatives n ways that are not picked up in the data. The evidence is pretty incomplete on this point, although it suggests that conservatives actually give informally in some ways more than liberals (e.g. giving blood). But it is always possible that, in other ways, they give less. I am open to this possibility and believe it needs more study.
Stacy Palmer (Moderator):
    Mr. Brooks will continue to take your questions throughout the hour and we encourage you to join the conversation. To submit your question, click on the link that says "ask a question."
Question from Ben Brumfield, nonprofit software provider:
    While corroborating your main points from his own research, James Lindgren has criticised your analysis for glossing over moderates, who apparently donate less than conservatives or liberals. Your own paper "Faith, Secularism, and Charity" suggested that intensity of political feeling mattered more than political orientation. Would you discuss the role of political moderates in Who Really Cares?
For Lindgren's commentary, see his post here:
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks, Ben. My comparison between liberals and conservatives in the book was motivated by the common stereotype that conservatives are less compassionate than liberals, so I really wanted to compare these two groups specifically. If I had been trying to argue that politics per se affected giving, I would have spent lots of space in the book looking at "moderates," who often have low civic engagement levels just as often they have weak political views. But the point in the book was to show that charity differences are actually due to attitudes and behaviors (such as religiosity and attitudes about the government) that go deeper than political affiliations. In the book, I actually point out the fact that when we correct for the "deep attitudes," politics don't predict giving very well. In other words, politics are correlated with giving at the group level and contradict the stereotypes about charity -- and that's important to know. But if we want to know exactly why this is, we have to go into much deeper than politics. Perhaps not surprisingly, that second story isn't the "top-line" one that's showing up in the press a lot.
Question from Stephen L. Rozman, Tougaloo College:
    Do you make a distinction between giving to religious organizations (including churches) and giving to other types of groups?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Stephen, Yes. But I should note that most of the data ask people to distinguish between religious and secular giving themselves, which injects some real precision into the distinction. My friend Alan Abramson has noted this in a couple of places. One of the reasons I used so many different data sources in the book is because I was worried about imprecision and bias from self-reported giving, and wanted to make sure lots of datasets told me more or less the same thing.
Question from Stacy Palmer:
    Professor Brooks, what difference will the Democratic takeover of Congress make in terms of charitable-giving policies?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    That's an important question for all of us in this discussion, I'm sure. One take on this question is provided in the last issue of Chronicle by Les Lenkowsky, and I recommend that editorial highly. I think it's fairly likely that we'll begin to see more support for increased regulation on private foundations. Also, the repeal of the estate tax is no longer remotely likely. Of course, the effect this latter policy has on giving is totally unknown, because people disagree whether the estate tax raises or lowers philanthropy.
Question from Harvey Blumberg, Montclair State University:
    Is income equality a factor? Also age?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Harvey, Absolutely. Beliefs about income equality and income redistribution lie behind very definite giving differences. Chapter 3 talks a lot about the fact that proponents of income equality by means of government redistribution mechanisms are less likely to give voluntarily to charity than those who oppose redistribution. Lots has been written about age as a factor in giving. In general, folks give more as they get older.
Question from Michael Kearns:
    In the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy Charitable Giving Indices: Social Indicators of Philanthropy by State study, the top 10 states for CWP Measure 4 of Giving Relative to Income Ranked by State are: New York, District of Columbia, Utah, California, Connecticut, Maryland , New Jersey, Georgia,Massachusetts and Hawaii. 8 of those states would be classified as "blue states" whereas the bottom 10 states are: Maine, Mississippi, Indiana, Missouri, New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and North Dakota are almost exclusively red.
So my questions are:
1) Does this study contradict your book?
2) If the premise that conservatives give more than liberals, does it matter which state the conservatives live (i.e. do conservatives living in blue states give more than those in red states). And if so, why?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Thanks, Michael. There are various high-quality indices of giving by state and region, and they do indeed come to different conclusions. The simple one I use (comparing giving as a percentage of income with the electoral map) is supported to a large extent by the work at the Newtithing Group, and also by the giving data contained in the Indiana Center on Philanthropy's PSID data. That said, there are lots of ways to look at geography and giving, and the question is far from settled. But more importantly for this book, the main forces across individuals and states are not primarily political, but cultural. In answer to your second question, I think state matters less than things like religion. If the state counts per se, it will have to do with things like tax policies, which (in my view) are really not all that important.
Question from Walter Minot, U of South Alabama:
    Are there figures for conservative charitable giving apart from direct contributions to a person's parish church or local branch, which may be a form of self-serving convenience to keep the institution going?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Walter, my answer above to Jim sums that up pretty well. I'd like to point out, however, that even if giving to churches is something like a "club membership" for some folks, we still need to look at it as voluntarily supporting a civic organization, so it is not entirely dissimilar to other kinds of charitable giving.
Question from Tom S., educator:
    I am a fairly conservative Evangelical who gives significantly to charities, both religious and otherwise. I was recently at a liberal-focused educators' gathering where a speaker presented the Evangelical viewpoint very fairly and accurately, though it was clearly not her viewpoint. She mentioned the fact that Evangelicals are extremely generous. I knew this to be true, but was amazed to see the crowd's amazement at this statement. I was also refreshed to hear the comment made. Do you think there is a trend toward recognizing this reality? What evidence have you seen for (or against) such a trend?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Tom, There still exists the stereotype that conservatives n including conservative Christians n are inherently stingy people. This is strikingly common in much of academia, where it's possible not to even know an Evangelical person personally. I hope the truth becomes better known, because it will help religious and secular people work together with the facts in hand, and ultimately to increase American giving. If this happens, a big part of the reason will be because Evangelicals seek more to work with secularists and others in secular giving environments.
Question from Stacy Palmer:
    Based on your research, do you have any advice for how fund raisers can best appeal to potential donors?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Well, my first response is that fundraisers should actually APPEAL to donors more. It's really shocking how many nonprofits don't take fundraising seriously, or do so in a way that doesn't honor the intent or wishes of givers. My research shows me very clearly (and I hope shows my readers as well) that giving is hugely beneficial to givers themselves, and so nonprofits do an immense service to individuals, communities, and our nation as a whole by fundraising per se. I know it's counterintuitive, but fundraisers need to understand that one of a nonprofit's highest functions can be to connect people who have a need for services with people who have a need to give (that is, all of us).
Question from Tom S., Educator:
    In the Chronicle of Philanthropy article, you are quoted as saying, "I'm tithing my royalties assiduously." Tithing (giving 10%) is a strong Judeo-Christian concept. Did you find any parallel concept or pattern in the non-religious community?
Arthur C. Brooks:
    Tom, First of all, I kind of regretted seeing that quote in the story, because I didn't intend that comment to be a boastful one, but rather a statement of fact. I think there are effective standards of giving in secular communities, particularly in elite philanthropy. Where we can use more attention is in "regular" secular charity. It would be very useful to try and establish more of a social code of an appropriate giving level. The devil is in the details of course, and I'm not sure yet how this could be accomplished without being morally heavy-handed.
Stacy Palmer (Moderator):
    I'm afraid that is all we have time for today. Thank you all for posing so many terrific questions and thanks to Professor Brooks for offering us a new perspective on charitable-giving patterns. If you have any additional questions about the Chronicle or suggestions for how we can serve you better, you can always write to us at
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« Reply #969 on: September 14, 2011, 10:00:09 AM »

"While I am quite sympathetic to the conclusion, I object to the methodology. The Salvation Army is not a charity as likely to appeal to someone from SF as from South Falls."

That would be Sioux Falls, largest town in S.D.  smiley

I'll never forget when some years ago the daughter of Keith Ellison's predecessor, a prominent leftist in her own right, told us in a small social group (in my Republican friend's living room - drinking his wine and eating his food) that "the difference between Republicans and Democrats is that Democrats care more about others and Republicans care more about themselves". 

The study above may not be scientific but is about as stereotypical as you can get for a red state vs. blue state behavior comparison.  Salvation Army I think is about as well-known symbol as there is for helping the poor anonymously and out of your own pocket.  So they took the above hypothesis and tested it.  It failed.  More work is needed on that hypothesis.  wink
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« Reply #970 on: September 20, 2011, 01:02:45 PM »

Linking a couple of current topics,  I offer this thought for comment:

Even though the U.S. is perhaps the number two producer of oil in the world with enormous reserves statutorily off limits to production and left in the ground, no increase in production, even a million barrels a day from just one of these untapped sources, would have any impact on oil prices, because oil prices are global and the globe is sooo big - we are told.  No change at the margin can make a difference.

Out of the other side of the mouth, the same people tell us the little bankrupt nation of Greece is bringing down the Euro and all of Europe, even a primary reason, just behind Bush's fault, as to why the Obama administration had no chance to turn around the American economy.

Good grief, people, which is it?  Factors and events at the margin matter or they don't?
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« Reply #971 on: September 20, 2011, 02:47:13 PM »

Good point(s) but I think it would probably be better in the Energy thread.  BTW, I note that the risk of a hurricaine in the Gulf of Mexico seems to change the price of oil about $2 to $4 in one day , , ,
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« Reply #972 on: September 22, 2011, 02:33:35 PM »

I don't know how accurate his predictions are but Dick Morris has been soothing the past couple of years to listen to because he makes bold Republican winning predictions.   "Have lunch with him" and listen how the repubs can win 60 in the Senate:
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« Reply #973 on: September 22, 2011, 02:39:47 PM »

For future reference, that sort of piece would better belong in Politics, or The American Creed threads.
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« Reply #974 on: October 01, 2011, 01:56:02 AM »

"Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen prove they are insured ......... but not prove they are a citizen."
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« Reply #975 on: October 04, 2011, 10:30:38 AM »

"That change of mood will lead the way to necessary reform in a way a less harmful McCain administration could not have achieved: greater revenue from tax simplification, tax reduction, and greater tax compliance, less regulations, entitlement reform, and budgetary discipline. Obama is doing to liberal politics what no right-wing activist could dream up."
"sadder but wiser Americans will soon be turned loose with a vigor unseen in decades"

Hanson has a PhD from Stanford and teaches History at Stanford, authored more than 20 books with some of the greatest insights I've ever read.  Don't be fooled, though, he is also a 'biased blogger'.  If you are unable to appreciate fact and analysis from one the greatest minds of our time because it comes from a biased blog, please do not read or comment.  For the rest, this is good material.  Please read and enjoy.  Brighter days are coming.

The Coming Post-Obama Renaissance
by Victor Davis Hanson

The Parting of the Clouds

In every literary, historical or cinematic masterpiece, times must grow darkest before the sunrise and deliverance. Tolkien worked that classical theme to great effect. A sense of fatalism overtook a seemingly doomed Gondor — right before the overthrow of Barad-dûr and the dawn of a new age of men. The historian Herodotus, in literary fashion, also brilliantly juxtaposed the Greek collapse at Thermopylae (the Spartan King Leonidas’ head impaled on a stake), and the Persian firing of an abandoned Athens, with Themistocles’s sudden salvation of Western civilization at Salamis. In the classic Western film, hopelessness pervades until out of nowhere a Shane rides in.

What Was Hope and Change?

We are living in an age of such morality tales, though the depressing cycle reminds us that the gloom is hardly fiction or artistry. For those with a little capital there is only a sinking stock market. It seems to wipe out more of their 401(k)s each week, as if each month cancels out yet another year of prior thrift. Near zero interest means any money on deposit is only insurance, not any more a source of income. Millions are trapped in their unsold houses, either underwater or facing an end to any dreams of tapping equity by sale.

And for the greater number without savings? Stagnant GDP, 9.1 unemployment, another $5 trillion in debt, $1.6 trillion annual deficits, and sky-high fuel and food prices have combined to crush any notion of upward mobility. (If in 2004 5.7% unemployment was supposed to mark a “jobless recovery,” what exactly is 9.1% called? If Bush’s average $500 billion deficits over eight years were abhorrent, what must we say of Obama’s average $1.6 trillion over three? Really bad?)

In response, the Obama administration — let me be candid here — seems clueless, overpopulated as it is by policy nerds, academic overachievers, and tenured functionaries (cf. Larry Summers’ “there is no adult in charge”). They tend to flash Ivy League certificates, but otherwise have little record of achievement in the private sector. Officials seem to think that long ago test scores, a now Neolithic nod from an Ivy League professor, or a past prize translates into knowing what makes America run in places like Idaho and southern Michigan.

Yes, I know that Steven Chu is “brilliant” and a Nobel laureate. But that means no more than suggesting that laureate Paul Krugman was right about adding even more trillions to the debt. My neighbors know enough not to quip, as the know-it-all Chu did, that California farms (the most productive in the U.S.) will dry up and blow away, or gas prices should reach European levels, or Americans can’t be trusted to buy the right light bulbs, or a failed Solyndra just needed millions more of taxpayers’ money.

Solyndra and Van Jones are the metaphors of these times, reminding us of the corruption of the very notion of “green.” In the age of Al Gore, it has eroded from a once noble ideal of conservation to a tawdry profit- and job-scam for assorted hucksters and snake-oil salesmen. Without the lofty hype and shake-down, most otherwise would have had to find productive jobs. Tragically, “green” is the new refuge of scoundrels.

Costal del Sol Community Organizing?

I fear we have not seen such a divisive president since Richard Nixon. Suddenly there is a new fiscal Rubicon. Those crossing $200,000 in annual income now are to be suspect (“fat cat,” “corporate jet owner,” “millionaires and billionaires” [note how the two are sloppily associated — as if 1/1000 the wealth of one is still approximate to the other ]); those still on the other bank, are far more inherently noble (cf. Michelle Obama’s selfless legions, who, like the first couple, supposedly were to take her advice to turn down guaranteed riches in the abhorrent, but easy, corporate sector, to take on a life of noble service and relative poverty as hard-working community organizers and reps).

When did immigration law become embedded within the racial industry? If millions of Koreans were entering the U.S. illegally, would the National Council of La Raza insist on their amnesty, or be indifferent, or worry that such an influx might tax existing social services that provide for U.S. citizen poor? Did we ever have a president who issued a video (cf. 2010) appealing to constituents by their race, or suggested that border enforcement was equivalent to “moats” and “alligators,” or beseeched his Latino allies “to punish our enemies”? Is the president trying to turn enforcement of a federal statute into community organizing?

The Black Caucus has sadly become a caricature of itself, bewildered that Great Society II has further decimated the black community — now in racial solidarity with a failing president, now lashing out at the Tea Party. Yet the latter’s advocacy of fiscal discipline, greater deregulation, oil exploration, smaller government, and entitlement reform would unleash the private sector — and, to use the administration lingo, really create for the inner cities “millions of new jobs.”

So we are all confused by this new Morgan Freeman-esque (one of my favorite actors) racial illogicality: electing Obama was proof of racial harmony; but criticizing him proof of racialism; wanting to end his policies (that have impoverished black America most of all) borders on racism; expanding what will further harm blacks is proof of racial harmony? So one was supposed to vote for Obama to prove himself not racist, and then to stay quiet to ensure that he was still not racist? *

Readers will add here the end of an investigative media, ObamaCare, the new Solyndra and Fast and Furious scandals, “lead from behind” foreign policy, spread-the-wealth demonization of business, crony capitalism, punitive measures against everyone from guitar makers to plane manufacturers, distrust of oil and gas producers, Eric Holder’s politicized Justice Department, and so on.

OK—So Why the Optimism?

Why, then, do I see blue sky and a break in the present storms? For a variety of very good reasons.

Quite Exceptional, In Fact

The American Constitution remains singular and ensures a stable form of government of the sort absent in a Russia, China, the Islamic world, and even (or especially) the EU. Yes, I know Obama has mused that democracy is suddenly “messy” and he lamented to the La Razistas that he couldn’t quite enact legislation by fiat. And, yes, the governor of North Carolina, in revolutionary fashion, just wondered why we could not suspend congressional elections for a bit, while former budget director Peter Orszag (did he not get his trillions in “stimulus” from a Democratic Congress before he fled to Citicorp?) now dreams of a way of running around democratic “gridlock.” But for all that sudden liberal lamentation that the noble ends cannot be achieved by any means necessary, our system of government remains. And it will ensure us a stability abjectly absent elsewhere in the world.

Saudi America

Second, even Barack Obama cannot stop the oil and gas industries. Their brilliant new technologies and entrepreneurialism may well turn us into a fuel depot like Saudi Arabia, doubling our proven oil and gas reserves. Soon someone is going to see that our own natural gas can power millions of cars, freeing our foreign policy from Gulf authoritarians. We are poised for an oil boom not seen since the age of Texas and Oklahoma wildcatting. With a friendly new administration and more exploration out West, offshore, in the Gulf and in Alaska to augment the Dakotas oil renaissance, we will soon save hundreds of billions of dollars in imported fuel costs, stop subsidizing our enemies, perhaps help to lower energy prices worldwide, create “millions of new jobs,” and give a larger window of opportunity for solar, batteries, and alternative energies to become more efficient and cost competitive in the free market.

Pressure Is Building

Third, private enterprise is hoarding cash, uncertain over the costs of ObamaCare, in fear of more regulations and higher taxes, stung by “at some point you’ve made enough money” harassing bluster, and still convinced that equally cautious consumers are simply not buying. Yet, the country is still growing, still needs new homes, more food, and more energy. There are few strikes. Americans remain more self-reliant than our competitors. We are not a shrinking nation with the demographic crises of a Europe or Russia. Soon the mounting pressure will be released by a new change in government and we will see a recovery that should have occurred more than two years ago when the recession officially “ended” in June 2009 — only all the more enhanced due to its delay. When Obama leaves office, there will be a sense of psychological release in the business community that will lead to a far greater “stimulus” than printing more money.

Tempered by Fire

Fourth, that psychology of catharsis that accompanies the end of this administration will last for sometime. The next time Keynesians lecture us on more borrowing or greater spending (fill in the blanks), Americans will perhaps ask, “So we need to borrow at least $5 trillion within three years? Keep interest rates at near zero? Vastly inflate the money supply? Extend unemployment insurance to over 100 weeks? Exceed 50 million on food stamps?”

With an inept Carter, the left’s lament was “weak messenger.” With the triangulating Clinton, it was “weak message.” With Obama, despite the recent defections and liberal angst, there were both the messianic messenger and the true-blue message. What’s left? The American people turned on both in less than two years. That change of mood will lead the way to necessary reform in a way a less harmful McCain administration could not have achieved: greater revenue from tax simplification, tax reduction, and greater tax compliance, less regulations, entitlement reform, and budgetary discipline. Obama is doing to liberal politics what no right-wing activist could dream up.

Lead from the Front

Fifth, we tried UN multilateralism. We asked permission from the Arab League to intervene in Libya. We celebrated treating enemies and friends alike as neutrals. It did not quite work. Israel is still a democracy; its neighbors still are not. Europe’s leaders still accuse Obama as much as they did Bush. Hussein as a middle name means nothing to the Middle East. Putin is still Putin, and China still is China. Soon we will return to a quiet sense of American exceptionalism, but this time more so, given that the naysayers have had their naysay. Proper appreciation of U.S. global power and moral international citizenship likewise will restore confidence. I don’t think we will hear anymore that Bush turned off theocratic Iran, that Bush radicalized the Palestinians, that Bush destroyed relations with Turkey or Pakistan, or alienated Russia. In all these cases, things are about the same as in 2008 — or much worse.


Finally, the U.S. military has only improved in the last decade. It secured Iraq against all odds. Its Predator drones, in challenge and response fashion, have outpaced the new terrorism.

The domestic critique of the Bush-Cheney anti-terrorism protocols has been rendered mere partisanship by the Obama embrace or expansion of nearly every element that was once demonized between 2002-8. Obama’s unintended legacy is to legitimize Guantanamo, Iraq, renditions, tribunals, preventative detention, the Patriot Act, and so on. A Barack Obama who demagogued waterboarding won’t again — unless waterboarding three self-confessed mass-murdering terrorists is a “war crime” while blowing up over 2,000 suspected terrorists (and any in their vicinity, including U.S. citizens) with judge/jury/executioner missiles is not. (I think the current administration’s idea is simply that the more we vaporize in Waziristan, the less hassle we have with live suspects at Gitmo — again, on the rationale that a current senator, posing like Obama in 2007, can always have a field day with a captive live person in U.S. custody, but not so much with a dead one on foreign soil.)

Brighter Days

I, like many, am worried about the Republican field — as is the custom at this early stage. There is more to be endured in 2012. The Obama decline will spark venomous politics of the sort we haven’t seen in years. This time hope and change will be even more “Bush did it!/’You’re all racists!/“They” will take your Social Security.” The financial crisis is not over. We are not yet at the beginning of the end for statism, but the Churchillian end of its new beginning.

Still, let us cheer up a bit. The country always knew, but for just a bit forgot, that you cannot print money and borrow endlessly. It always knew that bureaucrats were less efficient than employers. It knew that Guantanamo was not a gulag and Iraq was not “lost.” But given the anguish over Iraq, the anger at Bush, the Obama postracial novelty and “centrist” façade, and the Freddie/Fannie/Wall Street collapse, it wanted to believe what it knew might not be true. Now three years of Obama have slapped voters out of their collective trance.

The spell has now passed; and we are stronger for its passing. There is going to be soon a sense of relief that we have not experienced in decades. In short, sadder but wiser Americans will soon be turned loose with a vigor unseen in decades.
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« Reply #976 on: October 12, 2011, 01:59:37 PM »

There I was with a friend, and she was shopping for T-shirts for her daughter's Sweet Sixteen party.

We went to a store in Brooklyn, which did silk-screening. The owner had examples of his artwork on various articles of clothing in the window. These featured beautiful portraits of President Obama, and other compelling images.

My friend explained her needs, and the owner quoted her a price for the lot: shirts, artwork, silk-screening. "But," he said, "I could do better if you pay in cash."

Così fan tutti, which, as I understand it, means "So do they all."

But the man voted for higher taxes. Reminds me of the old joke that Oklahomans will vote their state dry as long as they can stagger to the polls.

What of taxes? Nobody likes 'em, everybody knows they are, in the main, waste, all try to avoid or defray the expenditure by means of varying legality, and yet 53% of the country voted to raise them.

Granted, many voted Democratic for reasons other than taxation, but one would think such votes may have been cast reluctantly, or as a choice of the lesser of evils, but no. Barack Obama was voted in, as far as one could see, in raptures.

But nobody likes taxes.

I was at a neighbor's house for dinner, and they'd ordered takeout Japanese food, and they had, at their table, a daughter recently returned from college. The father was deconstructing his California roll to eat it, retail, and the newly enlightened freshman explained to him that to do so was to disrespect the sushi chef who had labored to make the roll just so, and was his work worth nothing?

I commented that his work was, obviously, worth what one had paid for it—else one would not have paid—and that the price did not include "respect," and neither would the chef have requested it, for he was interested only in selling his work, after which the buyer was free to dispose of it however he would.

And I did not say, but wondered, what of respect for the poor father, who had, not incidentally, worked for the money to buy the California roll and, sorrowfully, for the money to send the young woman off to college to fill her head with trash?

How had the young Stalinist come to assume the mantle of Upholder of All Things Good; and how had the T-shirt maker come to vote against his own financial interests?

For, the more I think about it, the more the question of taxes is central to that of liberty in general. For the question is: Who is to run the country? Is it to be run by its citizens, free to exchange goods and services for mutual benefit, or by the government, increasing both its powers and its corruption by the ability to tax?

And who would be these Solons who would run our government, but the good-willed and otherwise unemployable, content to suck at the government tit, and spout trash for a living—e.g., that one may disrespect an absent sushi chef by an incorrect method of eating his California roll, or that a proportion of races in the workplace differing from the proportion of races in the populace at large is de facto evidence of discrimination?

Cut taxes and these intellectual wards of the state will have to find a method of support that actually fulfills a need. Cut taxes and the "special interests" will have no incentive to bribe or "support" a candidate to the tune of a fortune, for the candidate, if elected, will have no ability to repay the bribe.

Senators and presidents start poor and end up rich. Where did this money come from?

Whom did they have to please in order to reap the rewards, direct and indirect, upon which they retire?

Why did the T-shirt maker have to whisper when he made his offer of a legitimate exchange? And who did he think was going to pay the increased taxes he voted for? Certainly not himself, as he (like everyone else) was going to dodge as many as he could. Who but "the Rich," that magical invocation of a group in opposition to which we citizens have time and again impoverished ourselves?

The shirt maker voted for Obama, the purchaser of sushi voted for Obama. I did not vote for Obama.

Mr. Mamet is a playwright and screenwriter. His latest book, "The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture" (Sentinel), was published in June
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« Reply #977 on: October 15, 2011, 01:18:39 PM »

There is no law of nature or human action that a phenomenon like Occupy Wall Street must mean any single, consistent or coherent thing.

There is a law of the media that media attention begets media attention, that the presence of young people (especially female) makes for more eye-catching pictures. It also goes without saying that Occupy Wall Street, because it's taking place in the media capital New York City, benefits from critical mass effects that wouldn't apply to Occupy Boston or Occupy Atlanta. That Americans are gathering publicly to blame Wall Street and "corporate greed" for their troubles is, itself, decidedly not a novelty. On any given day, everyone from auto workers to airline pilots to AARP members can be found demonstrating to protect threatened benefits and livelihoods.

Now these groups have rushed to Manhattan's Zuccotti Park to partake of the media adoration that eluded their earlier efforts. The reason is not a mystery: The Sixties nostalgia occasioned by Occupy Wall Street isn't so easy to drum up when you're middle-class waddlers marching against health-care cuts in Madison, Wis., earlier in the year.

Yet these older folks—let's call them "giveback" nation—are more representative of our age's political pains, which will continue for the indefinite future. Try to reconcile their interests with those of college-age protesters—it's hard to do. The young protestors want jobs; they want someone else to pay high taxes; they likely don't want to pay a penny more for a new car or plane ticket than necessary in a competitive market.

Throw into the ménage a certain kind of Wall Street billionaire who craves to be heard saying he "understands" the grievances of the youngsters. Joe Kennedy was at least more honest about the existential dread of the truly rich when he told a friend he supported the New Deal because, as he put it, he would gladly give up half of everything he owned in order to be assured of keeping the other half.

All these things flow through Occupy Wall Street, but there may be reason to be thankful for it, indeed (in a fashion) thankful for the economic mess that occasions the protests.

The reason is found in a chart routinely produced by the Social Security Administration, showing the ratio of active workers to retirees falling by 33%, from roughly three-to-one today to two-to-one, over the next five presidential cycles. Given our closely fought elections, that trend is no friend to the young and would-be productive.

Related Video
 Dorothy Rabinowitz on the Occupy Wall Street protests.
..We've mentioned before Henning Bohn, an interesting University of California at Santa Barbara economist, who argues that, precisely because of these demographics, a median-age voter in successive future elections will rationally vote for higher taxes in order to secure his or her expected Social Security and Medicare benefits. Like many liberal economists, he also argues that extraordinarily low federal borrowing costs are key to making the numbers work. He even suggests that a rational taxpayer should prefer unfunded public pension programs because the return on any tax dollars injected into them would be less than the rate he pays on his mortgage and car loans.

In a recent paper, though, Mr. Bohn has a new worry: The explosion in federal deficits since the 2008 economic crisis, which he fears might "justify reasonable doubts about [U.S.] solvency and monetary stability and thus undermine a financing strategy built on the perception that U.S. debt is safe."

Professor Bohn probably won't share this view, but one response, then, might be: Hooray for the economic crisis. Hooray for the political stresses of the welfare state, of which Occupy Wall Street is an inchoate emblem.

Especially if you doubt whether higher taxes and relentless borrowing would really allow American society to finance the baby boom's retirement without undermining the economic growth ultimately needed to square the circle. Especially if you doubt that what works in, say, Denmark (a far-reaching welfare state combined with adequate growth) can be replicated here. Danes leave their babies in strollers on the street when they enter a restaurant. They don't lock their doors. What economists call a high degree of "social trust" discourages Danes from abusing the welfare state and thus makes their fellow Danes happier to finance it.

America is an altogether bigger, more diverse, more raucous, more federal society, in which congressional earmarks (though not significant money in themselves) are an apt symbol of the relentless individual and group self-seeking (and the hostility to other people's interests) that characterizes American politics. Come to think of it, the Occupy Wall Street cavalcade is an apt symbol too. That's why it may be a blessing in disguise that we're having our political crisis now, rather than 20 years from now, when demographics will have turned even more unfavorable to the productive economy.

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« Reply #978 on: October 17, 2011, 07:05:58 PM »

The Foundation
"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." --Thomas Jefferson
Opinion in Brief
"American Autumn" or Red October
"Take, for example, the complaints of the young Americans currently 'occupying' Wall Street. Many protesters have told sympathetic reporters that 'it's our Arab Spring.' Put aside the differences between brutal totalitarian dictatorships and a republic of biennial elections, and simply consider it in economic terms: At the 'Occupy' demonstrations, not-so-young college students are demanding that their tuition debt be forgiven. In Egypt, half the population lives in poverty; the country imports more wheat than any other nation on the planet, and the funds to do that will dry up in a couple months' time. They're worrying about starvation, not how to fund half a decade of Whatever Studies at Complacency U. One sympathizes. When college tuition is $50,000 a year, you can't 'work your way through college' -- because, after all, an 18-year-old who can earn 50-grand a year wouldn't need to go to college, would he? Nevertheless, his situation is not the same as some guy halfway up the Nile living on $2 a day: One is a crisis of the economy, the other is a crisis of decadence. And, generally, the former are far easier to solve. My colleague Rich Lowry correctly notes that many of the beleaguered families testifying on the 'We are the 99%' websites have real problems. However, the 'Occupy' movement has no real solutions, except more government, more spending, more regulation, more bureaucracy, more unsustainable lethargic pseudo-university with no return on investment, more more more of what got us into this hole. ... One of their demands is for a trillion dollars in 'environmental restoration.' Hey, why not? It's only a trillion. Beneath the allegedly young idealism are very cobwebbed assumptions about societal permanence. The agitators for 'American Autumn' think that such demands are reasonable for no other reason than that they happen to have been born in America, and expectations that no other society in human history has ever expected are just part of their birthright. But a society can live on the accumulated capital of a glorious inheritance only for so long." --columnist Mark Steyn

For the Record
"When fiscally conservative tea party activists held protests over the past two years, they filed for all the required permits and paid for their own power. Occupy Boston, by contrast, neither sought nor obtained any proper permits at any level, according to the Boston Globe. Instead, city and park officials have been cowed into providing them gratis electricity and camp space lest there be 'conflict.' Many of these occupiers are primarily occupied as paid rent-a-mobsters for unions, left-wing think tanks and the radical Working Families Party. While one collective hand soaks the taxpayers, the other hand is busy soliciting free stuff. Occupy Los Angeles activists took to Skype on their laptops to solicit donations of iPhones and iPads. Occupy Wall Street members on Twitter organized an ongoing '#needsoftheoccupiers' drive for everything from batteries and tarps to 'gently used' coats and sweaters, wool socks, sleeping bags and energy bars. Occupy Austin organizers publicized their wish list, including a free barbecue grill, portable toilets, extension cords, a Bobcat forestry cutter for clearing brush and network cameras for a livestream. These are not principled advocates of fiscal responsibility. They are professional freeloaders." --columnist Michelle Malkin

Faith & Family
"While the potentates of the press were paying homage to pot-smoking protesters demanding 'economic justice,' supporters of religious freedom were being massacred in Egypt. On Sunday, Oct. 9, more than 1,000 Coptic Christians held a vigil at the state television building in Cairo to pray for protection against radical Islamists burning their churches, homes, schools and businesses. According to Amnesty International, violent Islamist attacks against Egypt's Christian community -- which predates Islam by more than six centuries -- have increased exponentially since Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February. The peaceful gathering was attacked by armed Muslim militants and Egyptian army units. In the ensuing melee, at least 20 Copts were killed, and more than 75 were wounded. Eyewitnesses recorded victims being beaten, stabbed, shot, crushed by military vehicles and dragged through the streets of Cairo. Dr. Walid Phares of Fox News, one of the first to report the incident, rightly says, 'International news agencies, including AP, were late in reporting the real casualties.' So, too, was the White House in noting that the atrocity even happened. Apparently, Christians being brutalized in Egypt doesn't fit the O-Team's 'Arab spring' campaign theme song." --columnist Oliver North
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« Reply #979 on: October 20, 2011, 07:29:45 AM »

Last week, protests broke out again in Europe, from Rome to London. The monthlong Occupy Wall Street demonstrations in New York have spread. The current unrest follows this summer's riots in London and flash mob incidents in U.S. cities. In 2009 and 2010, Tea Parties turned out hundreds of thousands in protests against the Obama administration's policies and eventually gave him the largest midterm rebuke since 1938.

All of these protests, of course, are vastly different -- or are they really?

Ostensibly, the Wall Street protests rail against a small elite who makes a lot of money lending, investing and speculating -- although the protestors don't seem to worry much about the mega-salaries of actors, professional athletes or sympathetic multimillionaires like Al Gore, George Soros or John Kerry. American flash mobbers and London hoods thought it was OK to take things that were not theirs, since they have less than others. The Tea Partiers were simply tired of paying more taxes for big-government programs that they thought only made things worse.

In the current left and right anger -- somewhat analogous to the upheavals of 1848 or the 1930s -- the common denominator is frustration that Western upward mobility of some 60 years seems to be coming to an end. In response, millions want someone or something to be held accountable -- whether Wall Street insiders, or wasteful and corrupt governments, or the affluent who have more than others.

Unfortunately, political leaders -- unwilling to risk their careers by irking the people -- have offered few explanations for the root causes of all the various unrest. Instead, they assure us that Social Security is solvent, or that pensions and wages can remain sacrosanct, or that billionaires and millionaires are alone culpable. Sometimes they exploit race and class divisions in lieu of explaining 21st-century realities.

So here goes an explanation for the multifaceted unrest. For the last six decades, constant technological breakthroughs and growing government subsidies have given a billion and a half Westerners lifestyles undreamed of over the last 2,500 years. In 1930, no one imagined that a few pills could cure life-threatening strep throat. In 1960, no one planned on retiring at 55. In 1980, no one dreamed that millions could have instant access to civilization's collective knowledge in a few seconds through a free Google search.

Yet, the better life got in the West for ever more people, the more apprehensive they became, as their appetites for even more grew even faster. Remember, none of these worldwide protests are over the denial of food, shelter, clean water or basic medicine.

None of these protestors discuss the effects of 2 billion Chinese, Indian, Korean and Japanese workers entering and mastering the globalized capitalist system, and making things more cheaply and sometimes better than their Western counterparts.

None of these protestors ever stop to ponder the costs -- and ultimately the effect on their own lifestyles -- of skyrocketing energy costs. Since 1970 there has been a historic, multitrillion-dollar transfer of capital from the West to the Middle East, South America, Africa and Russia through the importation of high-cost oil and gas.

None seem to grasp the significance that, meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Westerners are living longer and better, retiring earlier, and demanding ever more expensive government pensions and health care.

Something had to give.

And now it has. Federal and state budgets are near bankrupt. Countries like Greece and Italy face insolvency. The U.S. government resorts to printing money to service or expand entitlements. Near-zero interest rates, declining home prices, and huge losses in mutual funds and retirement accounts have crippled the middle classes.

Bigger government, marvelous new inventions and creative new investment strategies are not going to restore the once-taken-for-granted good life. Until "green" means competitive renewable energy rather than a con for crony capitalists, we are going to have to create and save capital by producing more of our own gas and oil, and relying more on nuclear power and coal.

Westerners will have to work a bit longer and more efficiently, with a bit less redistributive government support. And they must confess that venture capitalists, hedge funds and big deficit-spending governments are no substitute for producing themselves the real stuff of life that millions now take for granted -- whether gas, food, cars or consumer goods.

Otherwise, a smaller, older and whinier West will just keep blaming others as their good life slips away. So it's past time to stop borrowing to import energy and most of the things we use but have given up producing -- and get back to competing in the real world.
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« Reply #980 on: October 28, 2011, 09:03:42 AM »

People are increasingly fearing the divisions within, even the potential coming apart of, our country. Rich/poor, black/white, young/old, red/blue: The things that divide us are not new, yet there's a sense now that the glue that held us together for more than two centuries has thinned and cracked with age. That it was allowed to thin and crack, that the modern era wore it out.

What was the glue? A love of country based on a shared knowledge of how and why it began; a broad feeling among our citizens that there was something providential in our beginnings; a gratitude that left us with a sense that we should comport ourselves in a way unlike the other nations of the world, that more was expected of us, and not unjustly—"To whom much is given much is expected"; a general understanding that we were something new in history, a nation founded on ideals and aspirations—liberty, equality—and not mere grunting tribal wants. We were from Europe but would not be European: No formal class structure here, no limits, from the time you touched ground all roads would lead forward. You would be treated not as your father was but as you deserved. That's from "The Killer Angels," a historical novel about the civil war fought to right a wrong the Founders didn't right. We did in time, and at great cost. What a country.

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 .But there is a broad fear out there that we are coming apart, or rather living through the moment we'll look back on as the beginning of the Great Coming Apart. Economic crisis, cultural stresses: "Half the country isn't speaking to the other half," a moderate Democrat said the other day. She was referring to liberals of her acquaintance who know little of the South and who don't wish to know of it, who write it off as apart from them, maybe beneath them.

To add to the unease, in New York at least, there's a lot of cognitive dissonance. If you are a New Yorker, chances are pretty high you hate what the great investment firms did the past 15 years or so to upend the economy. Yet you feel on some level like you have to be protective of them, because Wall Street pays the bills of the City of New York. Wall Street tax receipts and Wall Street business—restaurants, stores—keep the city afloat. So you want them up and operating and vital, you don't want them to leave—that would only make things worse for people in trouble, people just getting by, and young people starting out. You know you have to preserve them just when you'd most like to deck them.

Where is the president in all this? He doesn't seem to be as worried about his country's continuance as his own. He's out campaigning and talking of our problems, but he seems oddly oblivious to or detached from America's deeper fears. And so he feels free to exploit divisions. It's all the rich versus the rest, and there are a lot more of the latter.

Twenty twelve won't be "as sexy" as 2008, he said this week. It will be all brute force. Which will only add to the feeling of unease.

Occupy Wall Street makes an economic critique that echoes the president's, though more bluntly: the rich are bad, down with the elites. It's all ad hoc, more poetry slam than platform. Too bad it's not serious in its substance.

There's a lot to rebel against, to want to throw off. If they want to make a serious economic and political critique, they should make the one Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner make in "Reckless Endangerment": that real elites in Washington rigged the system for themselves and their friends, became rich and powerful, caused the great catering, and then "slipped quietly from the scene."

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.It is a blow-by-blow recounting of how politicians—Democrats and Republicans—passed the laws that encouraged the banks to make the loans that would never be repaid, and that would result in your lost job. Specifically it is the story of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage insurers, and how their politically connected CEOs, especially Fannie's Franklin Raines and James Johnson, took actions that tanked the American economy and walked away rich. It began in the early 1990s, in the Clinton administration, and continued under the Bush administration, with the help of an entrenched Congress that wanted only two things: to receive campaign contributions and to be re-elected.

The story is a scandal, and the book should be the bible of Occupy Wall Street. But they seem as incapable of seeing government as part of the problem as Republicans seem of seeing business as part of the problem.

Which gets us to Rep. Paul Ryan. Mr. Ryan receives much praise, but I don't think his role in the current moment has been fully recognized. He is doing something unique in national politics. He thinks. He studies. He reads. Then he comes forward to speak, calmly and at some length, about what he believes to be true. He defines a problem and offers solutions, often providing the intellectual and philosophical rationale behind them. Conservatives naturally like him—they agree with him—but liberals and journalists inclined to disagree with him take him seriously and treat him with respect.

This week he spoke on "The American Idea" at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. He scored the president as too small for the moment, as "petty" in his arguments and avoidant of the decisions entailed in leadership. At times like this, he said, "the temptation to exploit fear and envy returns." Politicians divide in order to "evade responsibility for their failures" and to advance their interests.

The president, he said, has made a shift in his appeal to the electorate. "Instead of appealing to the hope and optimism that were hallmarks of his first campaign, he has launched his second campaign by preying on the emotions of fear, envy and resentment."

But Republicans, in their desire to defend free economic activity, shouldn't be snookered by unthinking fealty to big business. They should never defend—they should actively oppose—the kind of economic activity that has contributed so heavily to the crisis. Here Mr. Ryan slammed "corporate welfare and crony capitalism."

"Why have we extended an endless supply of taxpayer credit to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, instead of demanding that their government guarantee be wound down and their taxpayer subsidies ended?" Why are tax dollars being wasted on bankrupt, politically connected solar energy firms like Solyndra? "Why is Washington wasting your money on entrenched agribusiness?"

Rather than raise taxes on individuals, we should "lower the amount of government spending the wealthy now receive." The "true sources of inequity in this country," he continued, are "corporate welfare that enriches the powerful, and empty promises that betray the powerless." The real class warfare that threatens us is "a class of bureaucrats and connected crony capitalists trying to rise above the rest of us, call the shots, rig the rules, and preserve their place atop society."

If more Republicans thought—and spoke—like this, the party would flourish. People would be less fearful for the future. And Mr. Obama wouldn't be seeing his numbers go up.

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« Reply #981 on: November 02, 2011, 03:17:38 AM »

There is quite a bit here I disagree with, indeed I wonder if at times it calls to anti-semitic memes.  Nonetheless, given the sophistication of this board, I think we can handle it.  There are things to ponder here.
« Reply #982 on: November 03, 2011, 08:31:56 AM »

Read this piece out loud with a couple people in the room and perhaps you too can get your own right wing terrorist perp walk:

Gunwalker exposed: not a law enforcement operation, but something far worse

Whether or not the asshats at Fox News or the Drudge Report want to give credit where credit is due, we here in the gun community know that it was David Codrea at the Gun Rights Examiner and Mike Vanderboegh at Sipsey Street Irregulars that broke the damning news that Operation Fast and Furious was a gun-running operation that used taxpayer dollars to purchase firearms and deliver them directly to the Mexico drug cartels. I was fortunate enough to contribute in some small way by giving them some of the traffic they rightfully deserve and corroborating their exclusive after the fact.

The more I think about the hundreds of lives lost and the families destroyed with weapons provided  by our government, the more upset I become. Almost every law enforcement agency of the executive branch and scattered across four cabinet level agencies (Justice, State, Treasury, and Homeland Security) has a role in arming some of the most violent criminals on earth with the apparent goal of destabilizing an ally on the edge of a civil war and undermining the Constitution of our own nation.

In my opinion, what we are witnessing is a massive crime, and quite probably the legal definition of international terrorism as defined in U.S. Law. I don’t think we are in the range of hyperbole anymore when we wonder whether or not President Obama’s government is guilty of terrorism and acts of war against an ally. I do not think I am being hyperbolic when I say with great concern that it appears that the actions of our Executive branch walk right up to the line of what the Constitution considers treason, and perhaps crosses it.

Chairman Issa, Senator Grassley, and others have trod very deliberately and carefully since the very beginning of Operation Fast and Furious, always very measured with their words and careful in their allegations. Now that we know some of what they know, it is all too apparent why they have proceeded with such caution.

They have before them evidence that a substantial portion of one branch of federal government, led by high-ranking political appointees and elected officials, has apparently broken the most sacred trust, shattered their oaths, caused the deaths of hundreds and committed an act of war in an attempt to undermine our Constitution and Bill of Rights.

This is the largest scandal in American political history, which may eventually lead to the President and his closest advisors facing federal charges in two nations relating to terrorism, multiple murders, arms trafficking, and treason.

I lack the vocabulary to properly relate my astonishment and anger at the betrayal of this nation by the majority of “professional” media that would let the greatest crime in our nation’s history go unreported, or in the case of the Washington Post and New York Times, attempt to slander and libel those who would bring justice to a criminal regime.

We are rapidly approaching a juncture in history where we will either see justice served in a court of law, or tyranny run through the barrel of the gun. The Obama Administration has firmly indicated their favor for the latter.

Let us hope that the Courts and Congress can counteract that criminal tendency, so that we are not forced to water the tree of liberty ourselves.
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« Reply #983 on: November 03, 2011, 08:34:51 AM »

Read this piece out loud with a couple people in the room and perhaps you too can get your own right wing terrorist perp walk:

Not unless you then discuss committing crimes and then take actual steps to commit said crimes.
« Reply #984 on: November 03, 2011, 08:41:51 AM »

Yes, I suppose "watering the tree of liberty" is too vague a reference.
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« Reply #985 on: November 03, 2011, 08:43:08 AM »

Yes, I suppose "watering the tree of liberty" is too vague a reference.

Was the "geezer brigade" just quoting Jefferson, or were they actually plotting to murder people? Kind of a key point.
« Reply #986 on: November 03, 2011, 10:30:09 AM »

So I usually don't have much use for conspiracy theories as most turn into tail chasing enterprises in which few verifiable facts can be found. And though I've been following Sipsey Street Irregulars through a lot of the Fast and Furious/Gunwalker horrific foolishness, I confess his strident tone gets on my nerves and think he'd serve his ends better by hyperventilating less. As that may be, now that our geriatric terrorists have been lead off in cuffs, we've got "authorities" claiming their antics were inspired by an online novel written by Sipsey Street blogger Mike Vanderboegh. 300 million plus people in the US many of whom must be talking to others about doing violence inspired by the federal foolishness, yet this administration manages to only roll out right wing kooks, in this instance ones said to be inspired by a major thorn in their side. Credulity is starting to be strained:

Alleged Plot to Attack U.S. Officials Was Inspired by Online Anti-Government Novel, Authorities Say
Published November 02, 2011 |

An alleged plot to attack federal and state officials by suspected members of a fringe north Georgia militia group was inspired by an online anti-government novel, authorities said.

Court documents state that 73-year-old Frederick Thomas, a suspected member of the group, told others that he intended to model their actions on the online novel "Absolved," which involves small groups of citizens attacking U.S. officials.

The four suspected members, who federal authorities arrested Tuesday, were expected to appear in court Wednesday.

They were part of a group that also tried to obtain an unregistered explosive device and sought out the complex formula to produce Ricin, a biological toxin that can be lethal in small doses, according to a federal complaint.

Authorities said the group intended to use the plot of the novel "Absolved," written by Mike Vanderboegh, a blogger who has closely followed the botched federal investigation known as "Fast and Furious." He also runs a whistleblower website called Sipsey Street Irregulars.

During a phone interview with on Wednesday, Vanderboegh claimed he was not responsible for the alleged plot.

"What kind of moron uses the phrase 'save the Constitution and then goes out to try and distribute Ricin?" Vanderboegh said. "This has got to be the Alzheimer's gang. What political point is made there? I don't understand what was going on in the minds of these Georgia idiots."

The four listed in the indictment are Thomas; Dan Roberts, 67; Ray Adams, 65; and Samuel Crump, 68. The men live in the north Georgia towns of Cleveland and Toccoa.

They had been talking about "covert" operations since at least March, according to court records, discussing murder, theft and using toxic agents and assassinations to undermine the state and federal government.

In one of the indictments obtained by, authorities said Thomas is recorded saying, "Let's shoot the bastards that we discover are anti-American. And to me the best way to do that is to walk up behind them with a suppressed .22."

"I am of the, uh, old school, Mafia; one behind the ear with a .22 is all you need," Thomas allegedly said. "Of course a .40 Smith and Wesson or .45 ACP is just as good, even better, cause it makes the whole head explode."

Investigators also say Thomas openly discussed creating a "bucket list" of government employees, politicians, corporate leaders and members of the media he felt needed to be "taken out."

"I've been to war, and I've taken life before, and I can do it again," he told an undercover investigator, according to the records.

Thomas' wife, Charlotte, called the charges "baloney."

"He spent 30 years in the U.S. Navy. He would not do anything against his country," she said in a phone interview with The Associated Press.

Thomas and Roberts are accused of buying what they believed was a silencer and an unregistered explosive from an undercover informant in May and June. Prosecutors say he discussed using the weapons in attacks against federal buildings.

Prosecutors say Crump also discussed making 10 pounds of Ricin and dispersing it in Atlanta and various cities across the nation, suggesting it can be blown out of a car speeding down an interstate highway.

Adams, meanwhile, is accused of showing an informant the formula to make Ricin and identifying the ways to obtain the ingredients.

Thomas is accused of driving to Atlanta with a confidential informant on May 24 and scoping out an IRS building there and an ATF building "to plan and assess for possible attacks," the indictment states.

"We'd have to blow the whole building, like Timothy McVeigh," Thomas said during the trip to Atlanta, the indictment states.

Charlotte Thomas said her husband was arrested in a restaurant in Cornelia, Ga., and federal agents were at her home when she returned from the grocery store Tuesday afternoon. She said the agents wouldn't let her in her home.

"They tore up my house," Charlotte Thomas said.

She said her husband doesn't have an attorney yet.

Margaret Roberts of Toccoa said FBI agents showed up with a search warrant and went through her home, handcuffing her and taking a computer and other items. She said her husband is retired from the sign business and lives on pensions.

"He's never been in trouble with the law. He's not anti-government. He would never hurt anybody," she said.

Listed numbers for the other two suspects could not be found.

Attorneys for the men were not identified, and the federal defender's office had no immediate comment.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the case is a reminder that "we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security."
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« Reply #987 on: November 03, 2011, 10:40:12 AM »

So, there is no way the "Geezers" were actually planning on murdering anyone?
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« Reply #988 on: November 03, 2011, 11:27:31 AM »

May I suggest we put the Geezer Militia case on the watch list but withhold commentary while we await further developments?

« Reply #989 on: November 03, 2011, 11:31:11 AM »

So, there is no way the "Geezers" were actually planning on murdering anyone?

Something of on non-sequtur there. Think my preface to the piece conveys my feelings. Is there some part of it I need to explain for you?
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« Reply #990 on: November 03, 2011, 11:33:10 AM »

So, there is no way the "Geezers" were actually planning on murdering anyone?

Something of on non-sequtur there. Think my preface to the piece conveys my feelings. Is there some part of it I need to explain for you?

Yeah, how you string together that a conspiracy case where the plotters were conspiring to murder people is some sort of gov't conspiracy related to "Gunwalker".
« Reply #991 on: November 03, 2011, 12:08:22 PM »

Uhm, 'cause as the article I posted states "authorities" are claiming the geriatric terrorists were inspired by an online novel written by the guy who has broken a lot of the "Gunwalker" story.
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« Reply #992 on: November 03, 2011, 12:13:33 PM »

So the black helicopters swooped in and used Area 51 Mindcontrol technology to make the geezers conspire to murder people so they could then say they were inspired by an online book written by a blogger covering "Gunwalker"?
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« Reply #993 on: November 03, 2011, 12:38:15 PM »

May I suggest we put the Geezer Militia case on the watch list but withhold commentary while we await further developments?

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« Reply #994 on: November 09, 2011, 09:27:57 PM »

The Drachma is Dead: So Is the Welfare State
By Brian S. Wesbury
There is a simple rule in monetary economics, which many seem to have forgotten. A weak currency cannot replace a strong currency. In other words, the existence of the euro will force the countries of Europe to confront budgetary problems fiscally, not monetarily. No wonder governments are collapsing across the continent.
The Greek government, and some misguided economists, think the failure of the welfare state could be averted if Greece would only devalue its currency. This is a sad statement. A de-valuation is just a default by another name. It puts most of the burden on creditors, savers, and income earners, who face the pain and loss of reduced purchasing power.
Without the ability to devalue, the pain of restructuring falls on those who benefit from the largesse of government spending. Government jobs, pension payments, subsidies, and services will all need to be cut. The pain will fall inordinately on those who count on government for some form of support.
No wonder governments often choose devaluation instead of austerity. Devaluations can be blamed on the markets and Wall Street. But spending cuts hit constituents – those who voted for politicians who promised that government would never run out of money. This is why governments are collapsing, and will continue to collapse. Voters are completely disillusioned and they are facing a great deal of pain as they get a very expensive education in basic economics.
These countries cannot devalue their currency because they gave up the management of money to the European Central Bank. One benefit (or curse) of giving up sovereignty over money was that these countries were able to continue borrowing (in euros) well beyond what they could have borrowed in their local currency. Meanwhile, regulators let banks treat government debt as risk-free, creating artificial demand for this debt. (Just like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac created artificial demand for subprime debt in the US.)         
As a result, Greece and other nations are more deeply indebted than they would, or could, have been if they had kept their own currency in the first place. And this is key…the markets will never allow these old currencies to come back again. At least not in the foreseeable future. The drachma is dead.
The reason is simple. Consumers and creditors would not accept the drachma today because it would not be a viable store of value. It would be a useless currency that hardly anyone, outside of government, would choose to accept. Imagine if you were a Greek citizen and the government said, “please give us your euros in exchange for these drachma.” You would say “get out of here, go pick some olives.” No one in their right mind would trade a stronger currency, like the euro, for a weak currency that the authorities want to devalue.
Moreover, because Greek debt was issued in euros it cannot be repaid in drachma. Creditors would not want to accept it because it would be a weaker currency than their debt is already denominated in. In other words, devaluing into the drachma would lead to explicit debt defaults anyhow.
If for some reason property rights were violated and government used force, even guns, to implement a change to the drachma, Greek society would collapse. The underground economy would explode using other currencies and barter, creditors would not lend to Greece again for a very long time. The markets would stop working.
The simple rule of money – a weak currency cannot replace a strong currency – suggests that only the British pound, the dollar, gold, or possibly the German mark could replace the euro. This is true for Greece, or for any other non-German European nation. No other revived currency, except for the German mark, could compete against the euro.
As a result, Greek fiscal problems must be solved by a shift away from the welfare state. This is true for Italy, Spain, Portugal, and for every other nation in Europe which will eventually face the reality that the experiment with the welfare state has failed.
This is the real lesson of European budget problems. Government spending does not create wealth. It never has, it never will, and monetary shenanigans cannot change that fact. Free markets are the only way to create wealth.
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« Reply #995 on: November 09, 2011, 09:59:21 PM »

Well, that was very unWesbury-ish.

I thought happy days were here again.
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« Reply #996 on: December 01, 2011, 08:03:42 PM »

Andy Grove, the founder and chairman of Intel, provocatively wrote in Businessweek last year that, "Our fundamental economic beliefs, which we have elevated from a conviction based on observation to an unquestioned truism, is that the free market is the best of all economic systems—the freer the better. Our generation has seen the decisive victory of free-market principles over planned economies. So we stick with this belief largely oblivious to emerging evidence that while free markets beat planned economies, there may be room for a modification that is even better."

The past few weeks have proven Mr. Grove's point, as our relations with China, and that country's impact on America's future, came to the forefront of American politics. Our inert Senate, while preparing for the super committee to fail, crossed the normally insurmountable political divide to pass legislation to address China's currency manipulation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama all weighed in with their views—ranging from warnings that China must "end unfair discrimination" (Mrs. Clinton) to complaints that the U.S. has "been played like a fiddle" (Mr. Romney) and that China needs to stop "gaming" the international system (Mr. Obama).

As this was happening, I was part of a U.S.-China dialogue—a trip organized by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the Center for American Progress—with high-ranking Chinese government officials, both past and present. For me, the tension resulting from the chorus of American criticism paled in significance compared to reading the emerging outline of China's 12th five-year plan. The aims: a 7% annual economic growth rate; a $640 billion investment in renewable energy; construction of six million homes; and expanding next-generation IT, clean-energy vehicles, biotechnology, high-end manufacturing and environmental protection—all while promoting social equity and rural development.

Some Americans are drawing lessons from this. Last month, the China Daily quoted Orville Schell, who directs the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society, as saying: "I think we have come to realize the ability to plan is exactly what is missing in America." The article also noted that Robert Engle, who won a Nobel Prize in 2003 for economics, has said that while China is making five-year plans for the next generation, Americans are planning only for the next election.

The world has been made "flat" by the technological miracles of Andy Grove, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. This has forced all institutions to confront what is clearly the third economic revolution in world history. The Agricultural Revolution was a roughly 3,000-year transition, the Industrial Revolution lasted 300 years, and this technology-led Global Revolution will take only 30-odd years. No single generation has witnessed so much change in a single lifetime.

Enlarge Image

CloseDavid G. Klein
 .The current debates about China's currency, the trade imbalance, our debt and China's excessive use of pirated American intellectual property are evidence that the Global Revolution—coupled with Deng Xiaoping's government-led, growth-oriented reforms—has created the planet's second-largest economy. It's on a clear trajectory to knock America off its perch by 2025.

As Andy Grove so presciently articulated in the July 1, 2010, issue of Businessweek, the economies of China, Singapore, Germany, Brazil and India have demonstrated "that a plan for job creation must be the number-one objective of state economic policy; and that the government must play a strategic role in setting the priorities and arraying the forces of organization necessary to achieve this goal."

The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model—so successful in the 20th century—is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century. In an era when countries need to become economic teams, Team USA's results—a jobless decade, 30 years of flat median wages, a trade deficit, a shrinking middle class and phenomenal gains in wealth but only for the top 1%—are pathetic.

This should motivate leaders to rethink, rather than double down on an empirically failing free-market extremism. As painful and humbling as it may be, America needs to do what a once-dominant business or sports team would do when the tide turns: study the ingredients of its competitors' success.

While we debate, Team China rolls on. Our delegation witnessed China's people-oriented development in Chongqing, a city of 32 million in Western China, which is led by an aggressive and popular Communist Party leader—Bo Xilai. A skyline of cranes are building roughly 1.5 million square feet of usable floor space daily—including, our delegation was told, 700,000 units of public housing annually.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government can boast that it has established in Western China an economic zone for cloud computing and automotive and aerospace production resulting in 12.5% annual growth and 49% growth in annual tax revenue, with wages rising more than 10% a year.

For those of us who love this country and believe America has every asset it needs to remain the No. 1 economic engine of the world, it is troubling that we have no plan—and substitute a demonization of government and worship of the free market at a historical moment that requires a rethinking of both those beliefs.

America needs to embrace a plan for growth and innovation, with a streamlined government as a partner with the private sector. Economic revolutions require institutions to change and maybe make history, because if they stick to the status quo they soon become history. Our great country, which sparked and wants to lead this global revolution, needs a forward looking, long-term economic plan.

The imperative for change is simple. As Andy Grove pointed out: "If we want to remain a leading economy, we change on our own, or change will continue to be forced upon us."

Mr. Stern was president of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and is now a senior fellow at Columbia University's Richman Center.
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« Reply #997 on: December 02, 2011, 07:09:23 PM »

December 2, 2011 12:00 A.M.
The Problem with China Envy
What liberals want to copy is the authoritarianism.

In 2008, I wrote a book called “Liberal Fascism.” That title came from H. G. Wells, one of the most important socialist writers in the English language. He believed, as did his fellow Fabian socialists, that Western democratic capitalism had outlived its usefulness.
What was needed was a new, bold, forward-thinking system run by experts with access to the most modern techniques. For Wells, the label for such a system mattered less than the imperative that we implement a revolution-from-above. He admired how the Germans, Italians, and Russians were getting things done. In 1932, he proposed calling his revolutionary movement “enlightened Nazism” or “liberal fascism.”
Wells was hardly alone. Such arguments were being made in all the Western democracies, under a thousand different banners. Most progressives rejected terms like “fascist” or “Communist,” but they still touted foreign tyrannies as superior to the outmoded democratic capitalism of the 19th century.
Lincoln Steffens, the muckraking journalist, was a great fan of both Italian fascism and Soviet Communism. He returned from a trip to Russia to proclaim, “I have seen the future, and it works!”
Some things never change.
Andy Stern announced recently that he’s been to the future, and it works. In this case, the future resides in China, which he says has a superior economic system. “The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model — so successful in the 20th century — is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century.”
Who’s Andy Stern? He’s just the guy who, until last year, ran the Service Employees International Union, which under his leadership spent more than any organization to get Obama elected in 2008, some $28 million. Comparatively, Stern’s influence in the Democratic party eclipses that of, say, the allegedly sinister Koch brothers or anti-tax activist Grover Norquist among Republicans. Stern himself visited the White House more than any other person during Obama’s first year in office (53 times).
Stern sees the Chinese government’s allegedly keen ability to “plan” its way to prosperity as the new model for America. It is an argument of profound asininity. China had five-year plans before it started getting rich. Under the old five-year plans, China killed tens of millions of its own people and remained mired in poverty. What made China rich wasn’t planning, it was the decision to switch to markets (albeit corrupt ones). The planners were merely in charge of distributing the wealth that markets created.
Indeed, rapid economic growth always makes government planners look like geniuses when the reality is that the planners are more like self-proclaimed rainmakers who started dancing only after it started raining. When the rain stops, which it will, they’ll have much to answer for.
Oh, and what about labor? There’s one labor union in China, and it’s run by the government. (The Nazis had pretty much the same system.) Stern doesn’t seem to care.
More intriguingly, SEIU is a huge supporter of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which, taken at its word, is most concerned with income inequality and the back-room corruption that comes from “crony capitalism.” And Stern touts China as the model for how to fix things? China has 115 billionaires and at least 115 million people living on a dollar a day or less. Nearly all of those billionaires got rich gaming a corrupt political system.  

Obviously, the core problem with China envy is not economic but moral. To the extent that China’s economic planning “works,” it does so because China is an authoritarian country. (Japan has been planning its economy within democratic restraints and has been dying on the economic vine for nearly 20 years.) You can hit your building quota a lot more easily when you can shoot inconvenient people and trample property rights at will. The Three Gorges Dam displaced more than a million people who were given three choices: move, jail, death.
Stern joins a long list of liberals who’ve seen China embrace authoritarian capitalism and conclude that the secret to that success had to be the authoritarianism. New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, my usual whipping boy in this department, has written thousands of words rhapsodizing about his “envy” of China. President Obama himself has said he’s envious of China’s president and has touted China’s infrastructure spending as something to emulate.
If you want to copy China because its authoritarian capitalism is better than our democratic capitalism, it seems pretty obvious that what you envy is the authoritarianism. H. G. Wells had a phrase for that.
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« Reply #998 on: December 02, 2011, 09:41:28 PM »


I have Jonah Goldberg's "Liberal Fascism" book and found it insightful.  (BTW Glenn Beck cites it as an influence).

In a very different way, I find the following piece from Stratfor to have a genuine insight.  In that economics is usually and area in which Stratfor depends on glib Keynesianism, this is a surprise to me  cheesy

December 2, 2011


As European leaders prepare for a crisis summit next week, STRATFOR CEO George
Friedman argues that German determination to dominate trade may be a principal cause
and that some of the smaller European countries may not be able to survive without

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology.
Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Colin: China's manufacturing sector contracted in November, for the first time in
three years. Russia is worried about investment plans and privatization, and even
prosperous Australia has cut public spending to match an income shortfall, all
blaming the slowdown in the deteriorating eurozone. The head of the EU's monetary
committee talks out the crisis. Poland chides Germany and tells it to show more
leadership. And a critical EU summit is coming up in eight days time.

Colin: Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman. George, it sounds like not much has
changed really.

George: Well, I think everybody's focused on the financial fallout, that's certainly
significant, I'm interested in a deeper issue that's inherent in Europe, which is
the idea of free trade. From my point of view, one of the problems that caused this
financial crisis was the fact that the European Union was built around the world's
second-largest exporter. Rather than having positive balance of trade, the
peripheral countries in Europe had negative balance of trade because Germany was
sending half its exports into these countries. Germany depends on these countries.
Unless these countries can become competitive with Germany, they are constantly be
overwhelmed by the trade flow which, in turn, is going to lead to both the
development of black markets off the books, protected industries in many ways, and
simultaneously, tax bases that are contracting. So everybody is spoken about how
absurd southern Europe's social spending was, the other way to look at it is the
size of the economy makes it impossible. Can Europe continue, in other words, with
pure free trade? Is it possible to solve the underlying financial crisis, the
imbalance between expenditures and the size of the economy, without some degree of
protection. We have to remember that the Germans developed in a protected
environment. So did the Japanese. The Chinese, today, operate in that. We don't live
in a free trade world, or at least we haven't lived in one, you know, for very long.
So, the real question in my mind, that's coming to the fore, is not the financial
problem, that's the expression of the underlying problem. And I really do wonder now
whether the Euro will survive or not, that's interesting in some ways, but whether
or not the European Union as conceived with open borders and absolutely free trade,
whether that is going to be able to survive.

Colin: Of course, there are quite a few groups, particularly trades unions, who are
advocating protection. But once you down that road, you get into what the free
traders call "beggar thy neighbor" policies.

George: Well, the argument would be that the current situation of Europe is "beggar
thy neighbor." I have a larger industrial plant, Germany says. Part of the reason I
have that industrial plant is was I was able to protect it in the 1950's, when it
was developing. I'm going to use that plant to sell products. I must sell products
because my industrial plant is way too big for domestic consumption. If I don't sell
products, I'm going to wind up with 15, 20 percent unemployment. So "beggar my
neighbor," I'm going to sell those products. I'm not going to allow them temporary
protection. I'm not going to allow them the sorts of things that they require to
grow. Well, we see that one of the outcomes of that has been this financial crisis.
It has other roots as well. I mean its not the only one, but it's certainly one of
them. So, the argument that you wind up in a trade war, may well be the case, but I
don't know that with the politics that is developing here, how the pro-Europeanist
elite survives. The situation in Europe is fairly disastrous. You have a political
elite that is dedicated Europeanist. By political elite, I mean not just the
politicians, I mean the bankers, I mean the journalists, and they have just
committed themselves to the idea that Europe must survive. And in many countries, a
middle and lower class that's being really pressed by this crisis, certainly it's
not only happening in Europe, it's happening in the  United States and other
countries, but in Europe, it's particularly intense and it's particularly sensitive
because you have very old animosities. You have countries that remember Germany in a
different way. Many of these wonder whether or not the Germans are doing this for
their own best interest or so on and so forth.

Colin: Yes, and you have the Polish foreign minister jumping in, yesterday,
suggesting that Germans were self centered, and, interesting for a Pole, telling
them "You Germans have got to start leading."

George: Well, the problem is what does leadership mean? And where are they going to
take Europe. Germany is leading, but the interests of the different countries are so
different, the Germans ultimately have their primary responsibility to themselves.
They're badly trying to keep the European Union in place, including allowing the
Greeks not to pay their loans and so on, because it's the Germans that must have
these markets. Remember, if the Germans can't export to these markets, they're going
to be experiencing a catastrophic recession, perhaps a depression. They must have
the European Union functional. And so, many of the things that the Germans are doing
is designed to keep that market alive. And you could even argue that German and
other countries' lending practices over the past three years, the loans that can't
be paid back, were primarily designed to maintain demand for their products, and
keep the process going. At this point, you are in a situation where that isn't
working any longer. So, calling for German leadership simply puts the Germans is in
a position where they have to answer the question, "Am I a German or a European?"
And the answer comes back, "I'm a European because it's in the best interest of

Colin: The chairman of the EU monetary affairs committee says, "We're now in a very
critical period." We've heard that before, of course. But the crunch point does seem
to be coming up with the European summit on December the 9th.

George: I think that the crunch point is well past. I think that the framework
holding the European Union together really has dissolved to the point that you
really just have a collection of nations. It seems to me that these talks, that are
coming up, face a fundamental question. They're going to be about whether or not the
other countries of Europe are going to give a degree of sovereignty to the EU, and
particularly to the Germans and the French, who will be in a position to come to
their ministries and oversee  many of their operations, setting limits to what they
can. The Irish have already made it clear that they're not going to go along with
this. I don't know how many governments in Europe and Italy and Greece could
possibly survive, if they agreed to what the German recommendation is. And that's
the problem. There are solutions to this. The solutions either require these
peripheral countries to absorb a massive contraction of their standard of living
and/or give up sovereignty that many of them have fought for, maintaining formal
control. But if you can't control your internal fiscal life, you know, what do you
really have? If you don't have your budget, you have don't your government. I think
you're winding up in a situation where the price, that the Germans are asking to
keep it going, is too high. Paradoxically, the Germans are the ones who can't really
afford to let it go. So you have, you know, not a crunch. It is a reality that is
reared up, and everybody is trying to solve what I think is a fundamentally
insoluble problem.

Colin: Well, I suppose we should end an optimistic note. Central banks, led by the
Fed, have decided to make it easier for the Europeans and other to get hold of
dollars, which may stave off crisis for a few days or so.

George: But I think the most interesting part of this is, you know, we talked about
the Chinese bailing out at the Europeans for the Russians. The lender of last
resort, in the end, is still the United States. And that is one of the interesting
things when we look at the international balance of power for all the wretched
things that have happened in the United States, for all the miscalculations, for all
the incompetence, banality and everything else, when push comes to shove it was the
Americans that the Europeans turned to and the Americans that were able to provide
something of a solution. I think it is a temporary solution -- I don't think it
really solves any underlying problem, but it is a couple of aspirins to take on the
fever. It won't last for a while and I don't think the enthusiasm for it is
appropriate. I'm far more interested in the fact that, in the end, the United States
has retained his role, wisely or not, as the lender of last resort and, just as
money is fleeing to the United States for safety, so too the United States has the
ability to address this question. Whether it is wise or not is another issue that
happened to tell us about how this world works.

Colin: George Friedman there, ending Agenda for this week. Thanks for joining us,
and until the next time, goodbye.
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Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.

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« Reply #999 on: December 02, 2011, 09:54:17 PM »


It's all just a shuffling of the deck chairs on the Titanic. The EU/Euro and in the long term, europe is doomed. The future isn't going to be a nice place. Plan accordingly.
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