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Tony Abbott, Barack Obama, and wisdom

It’s a gaffe only the American media would be inclined to ignore (and then, only if it was offered by Barack Obama or a loyal member of the Obama party/team/Administration):

[During] Australia’s election campaign, opposition leader Tony Abbott told a gathering of conservative party faithful on Monday that no one is “the suppository of all wisdom.”

While Abbott is a former Rhodes scholar, Barack Obama’s are less impressive: he went to Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard, and likely based on his test scores, is still refusing to release his academic record.

And yet, Abbott, while attempting to make a point about knowledge (it’s good) and truth (no one holds a monopoly), missed the conventional liberal wisdom. That is, isn’t it common knowledge within the media that the left holds all rights to wisdom, goodness, and light? And that the left’s many “nudges” are really only for our own good because we’re too stupid to make decisions for ourselves?

Still, there remain many—for example, Janet Daley—who remain politically incorrect, and based on the outcomes seen, don’t view Barack Obama as the American suppository of wisdom. (A mere suppository perhaps…)

And as America has been infuriatingly slow to learn, an idiot with initiative is a very dangerous thing.

Sometimes, even a blind squirrel finds half an acorn

Sometimes it’s Dana Milkbag Milbank, sometimes it’s Ezra Klein.

We’re speaking, of course, of the random acts of accurate observation sometimes occurring in reliably liberal writers. In this case, Klein has seen the train wreck—and the bogusness of—Barack Obamacare:

During his 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama relied on a standard applause line, a promise that his health-care plan would “lower premiums by up to $2,500 for a typical family per year.” Cue cheers — or jeers if you were a health-policy expert. For them, his vow was ridiculous. There was no time frame attached to the promise. There was no plan for realizing it. It was change no one quite believed in.

Shockingly, Klein says candidate Obama’s promises on healthcare were lies optimistic oversimplifications.

Although we applaud Klein for finding an acorn, we can’t help but wonder how he would characterize the issue had it been James Clapper who had offered the misrepresentation instead of the President.

And sadly, almost as soon as Klein has found an acorn of truth, it slips from his grasp into the fermented funk of predictable liberalism: that is, Klein—and America—needs Congress to do something for some reason to someone regarding something else stat:

[There should now be] an explosion of efforts in Congress to capitalize on this moment. We should be pushing further and faster to reform the health-care system, even as we argue about the expansion of health insurance under Obamacare. Instead, Congress is wasting the moment, doing an even worse job addressing the subject of health costs than Obama did in 2008.

Klein’s pleading is forced to ignore the fact it was the then-Democrat Congress—who had to pass it before they could read it—along with the President, who gave us the failed government leviathan called Barack Obamacare.

Ezra, next time try quitting when you’re ahead. Half a column—even a paragraph—that’s  reasonable, accurate, and understandable is far better than a longer one that isn’t.

Why liberals like rules

Why is it that liberals like rules? I’d offer it’s because rules help provide them with power. Power allows the repression and minimization of those who disagree with them and the maximization of those who hold to liberals’ ways of thinking.

“It’s all about fairness,” liberals say. Sadly, they confuse fairness of opportunity with fairness of outcomes. Fairness of opportunity means anyone, if qualified, can work at (for example) Google or Apple. Fairness of outcomes means Google and Apple would be stuck hiring people who aren’t qualified.

However, some rules—those that give individuals power (the Second Amendment and elements of the First)—are to be ignored, suppressed, or mangled beyond all logic and recognition. As such, homosexuals deserve special honor and glory; Christians special persecutions.

A rules-based case in point:

An act of faith has cost an area track team a win and a chance to advance to the state championships.

This past weekend, the Columbus [Texas] High School Mighty Cardinals had just won a boys relay race when a runner’s final gesture got them disqualified.

As he was crossing the finish line, Derrick Hayes pointed up to the sky. His father believes he was giving thanks in a gesture to God.

“It was a reaction,” father KC Hayes said. “I mean you’re brought up your whole life that God gives you good things, you’re blessed.”

Columbus ISD Superintendent Robert O’Connor said the team had won the race by seven yards. It was their fastest race of the year.

Though O’Connor cannot say why the student pointed, he says it was against the rules that govern high school sports. The rules state there can be no excessive act of celebration, which includes raising the hands.

“I don’t think that the situation was technically a terrible scenario as far as his action, but the action did violate the context of the rule,” Supt. O’Connor said.

But critics, including the runner’s father, see it as a violation of religious freedom. Some of them have even complained to the state, which does not appear to be budging.

So what do we have? A situation—what appears to be giving glory to God—that wasn’t technically a terrible violation. Good grief.

Liberals everywhere tremble with concern that someone, somewhere, might being doing something without permission.

Back-assward Barry

lurch1We are all sadly familiar with the President’s unrelenting theme of railing against millionaires and billionaires who fly on jets and don’t pay their “fair share.” (A billion is, of course, a lot more than a million… in fact, it’s a thousand millions. Not even tax-dodge John Kerry, AKA Mr. Teresa Heinz, is a billionaire—maybe.)

While the issue of what exactly constitutes a “fair share” is never quite defined, in Obama-speak it seems to be this: more.

But Dear Reader has his shoe-pounding formula back-asswards. The real issue is instead what is fair for the government to take?

As you unpack that question, others fall out: why is that amount (whatever it is, other than “more”) fair to take? What is the money used for? How much value does a dollar of government spending add to the quality of life for the American people versus the people deciding for themselves how to spend their money?

The liberal response (which is not the same as an answer) is to fall back on platitudes about how government always benefits different special interest groups: the children, minorities, greenies, teachers, the troops, students, women, first responders, infrastructure types, the elderly, et al.

A superior alternative to platitudes would be some cost-benefit analysis, but analysis would likely cause the lefty case for the unending more to collapse.

A free press could help explore these issues with something called reporting. Sadly, most of our “free press” today seems to view themselves as indentured servants to help the President fulfill his failed (based on middle class jobs, green energy, crony capitalism, non-transparency, license-to-kill drones, the debt, the deficit, unemployment, Obamacare costs, gas prices, etc.) agenda.

Controlling the messages, controlling the minds

Do we have a free press? A la Bill Clinton, it all comes down to what you mean when you say “free press.”

But what good is nominal freedom—the government does not censor our newspapers—if the writers are liars, or are ill-educated, or feed the populace a lot of claptrap, or ignore important events because they don’t like the people involved or the cause? 

In the case of the block quote above—which seems to be the standard of media behavior and not a departure from it—our “free press” is only free to promulgate its position within the dogma and ideology it already holds to be true. Or, as the saying goes, all writing is autobiographical. Unfortunately, most “straight reporting” by the free press is far more autobiographical than it warrants.

Our “free press” is actually self-constrained, incurious, self-censored, and massively left-leaning, and with malice and forethought based on the press’s worldview and preferred narratives.

But can’t the issue of worldview be subject to some scrutiny and discussion? After all, what is the true source of human morality, or of the mainstream media’s favored positions regarding (for example) abortion on demand, the inherent correctness (no, the goodness) of homosexuality, or the evil of guns, cars, coal, and Brad Pitt’s mother?

Why is Christianity to be denigrated while Islam is held in high regard? After all, Christianity is far more liberal than Islam regarding women, homosexuals, crime and punishment, freedom of speech, etc.

Most of the press doesn’t, won’t, or can’t explain the source of their personal values and morality, but chances are those ideals were developed via assimilating into the worldview of other right-minded liberals, often insidiously (at school), within government, and certainly at work. (Either that or the press was dropped on its collective head an infant.)

The position of the “free press” seems to be based on the human need to be right (as well as the need for belonging), even when “being right” means self-deception.

The implications on society are profound: an ideological media means an idiotic citizenry. Consider, if you will, the results of the 2012 presidential election.

The only way to defeat today’s “free press” is in the marketplace of ideas. This means having ideas (and ways of presenting those ideas) that are winsome, non-threatening, interesting, explainable, and with their own explanatory power.

Yes, it’s far easier said than done.

Obama’s collective action: my way or the (government provided) highway

The President again showed he’s a fine reader, in fact, he’s even a Dear Reader, as shown during his inauguration speech the other day. Where he’s deficient is in defending the ideology of his speech writers when those speeches are unpacked. Case in point:

For we have always understood that when times change, so must we, that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges, that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world be acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.

“Collective action” is, of course, the speech writer’s (and the speech reader’s) attempt to defend the intrusive arm of government. But the reality is the block quote inadvertently defends free markets. How so? The aforementioned “American soldiers” wouldn’t even had a musket unless there was a gun maker. And the gun maker wouldn’t be able to produce a product were raw materials like iron and wood made available through free markets. And the miner and woodsman would not be able to provide their materials unless a highly functional free market allowed them to specialize their efforts accordingly (and continue ad infinitum).

Or there’s this howler:

Our celebration of initiative and enterprise, our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, these are constants in our character.

OK, well those may be constants in our character—in theory—but “collective action,” the intrusive force of government, is doing its best to ablate them away. Evidence? Look at workforce participation numbers or the bank and automobile bailouts. I’m confused: do shrinking workforce numbers and bailouts fall into the “hard work” or the “personal responsibility” category?

And there’s the force of government, just under the surface, in this:

We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit.

As someone once said, a goal without an action plan is just a dream. Does the President (or better, his team of speech writers) have a dream? It would seem so. But how about this for a plan: let’s make it easier for America to have more health care providers… you know, that whole supply and demand thing? Instead, the Obamaunists favor ideas that entail government market interference like reducing reimbursement rates to existent health care providers. (And the size of the deficit—which has increased massively under Obama’s watch—is an entire series of posts.)

The real theme with Obama and his writers is that Americans are too stupid to decide things for themselves and too selfish to care for one another. The solution is government and ironically (to me anyway), government is made up of the same flawed human beings who are so stupid and selfish. Such is life under Obamunism, where health care provides for “free” abortions, birth control, and libotomies with the freedom of association that will allow us to all become good d-baggers.

The iron logic of Rahm Emanuel

Chicago isn’t the Windy City; it’s murder city.

So what’s a desperate politico like Rahm Emanuel (seen in his famous ‘jazz hands’ pose at right) to do? Have someone write more gun control laws. Otherwise, people might assign ownership of Chicago’s murder problem to the mayor or even worse for the Emanualists, someone might make a primary run at him.

After 506 homicides in 2012 and more of the same during the opening days of the new year, Emanuel said he was determined to stretch the legal limits of his local authority to prod Springfield into action.

Since murder is already illegal, what makes Rahm Emanuel think that more gun control will make things better? Oh, right, I forgot… he’s been libotomized.

Rahm, the problem isn’t the guns, it’s the murderers. As Emanuel might say, “Never let 506 crises in 2012 go to waste in stretching the legal limits of your authority.”

The MSM and the sexuality protected classes

The left and their handmaidens in the media tell us that homosexuality, transgenderedness, bisexuality, etc., is normal, healthy, and good.

They tell us that ideas regarding the limits of human sexuality are vestigial constructs of society’s repressive patriarchy. After all, L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. people were born this way; they can’t help it. (In the same way, liberals assert guns cause people to kill one another and yet if a Prius is picked in lieu of a Chevy Volt, it is bafflingly regarded as a personal choice.)

Are there constraints to the goodness of sexuality as an anything-goes way-ahead? Yes: Jerry Sandusky and the Elmo puppet guy. But what about intergenerational sexual relations?

If sportscaster Brent Musburger was an aged lesbian, he could be forgiven for commenting on the attractiveness of Auburn grad Katherine Webb. (And because he isn’t, he’s not.)

But if sexuality is an artificial construct of our repressive Puritan roots (and if there is no real or enduring truth, only things and ideas made by man humanity and unguided natural processes), what are the limits of sexuality? Why not polygamy, pedophilia, bestiality, harems, or incest?

Could it be that the age of consent is an artificial construct? After all, if sex between consenting 16-year olds is condoned, why not between a 30-year old teacher and a 16-year old?

The benefits of non-heteronormative sexual relations were advanced in the 1970s but to date (and largely due to the enduring image of Helen Thomas, pictured above), the idea—explicably and thankfully—has gained little traction.

Liberal triple play fail of the day

Leftists, be they journalists, economists, or especially politicos don’t understand the world, nor do many ever willingly open their eyes.

First case in point, Broncobama on Michigan voting to become a right-to-work state:

But President Obama, ever the demagogue of dishonesty, took to the stump Monday in Redford, Mich., claiming the measure takes “away your right to bargain for better wages and working conditions.” That‘s a shameful lie from a shameless president who regularly affirms his shamelessness with such deceit.

And despite the blinders worn by so many, the evidence is clear that right-to-work laws benefit companies, their employees and their states‘ coffers.

The left fails to understand that the economy—and just about everything else—responds to all sorts of inputs (including idiotic “inputs” like forcing people to join unions and involuntarily pay union dues) by taking action. “Action” in such a case includes things like building automobile plants in Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia (among others) where labor costs are lower.

But it seems the left would rather see car building in Michigan go the way of the Edmund Fitzgerald. (I thought libs were mainly secular humanists, with Charles Darwin as one of their gods; if so, why can’t they see right-to-work as a case of economic adapt or die? The answer is pride: they foolishly think they can write self-beneficial laws, practice crony capitalism, and have a centrally managed economy that works. History disagrees.)

Second, it seems there is great progressive angst and gnashing of teeth when libs hear Google has routed $10 billion in profits through a Bermuda sub-headquarters in order to avoid paying about $3.5 billion in taxes to Uncle Sugar. Avoiding taxes is legal, evading taxes is what brought Al Capone down (that and syphilis). Google is making a rational response to maximize their company’s financial power and it turns out Google is just the tip of the iceberg:

J.P. Morgan JPM +1.15% estimates that American companies currently hold a cool $1.7 trillion in profits outside the U.S. They keep them there because if they brought them home, they’d be taxed at 35%. Hewlett-Packard HPQ +1.47% has told its shareholders that “substantially all of HP’s total cash balances are held outside the U.S.” Two-thirds of Apple’s $121 billion in cash is held outside the U.S. Most other multinationals can tell a similar story, and a substantial number hold those profits in subsidiaries based in Bermuda.

(A cool $1.7 trillion? Just think: that could cover a whole year of the Obamanomics driven Obamadeficit.)

When liberals avoid paying taxes, they shrug it off as “something everyone does.” When an American-based company does the same, libs go apoplectic (and imagine if it had been Wal-Mart). Want to drive these now-American companies towards an ever-greater overseas presence? Keep writing laws that induce them to do just that.

Finally, lefties fail to see that by removing barriers to competition, jobs and wages should both increase. It’s a basic reflection of supply and demand, and if there were fewer impediments to starting a business, there might just be more business and more employment options available to workers. But in our regulatory state, a place of ever-increasing larding on of new legislation, who will be willing to fight city hall, county governments, state governments, the Department of Labor, the EPA, et al.?

We don’t really know the answer to that, but all else being equal, we can reasonably say fewer entrepreneurs will emerge when government builds such barriers to competition. That means fewer entrepreneurs which means fewer start-ups and small businesses and that’s where most jobs are created (except in today’s environs where most jobs created are government jobs and don’t create value nearly commensurate with their costs).

Instead America is stuck with—by its own choice—an Executive who appears to understand nothing about basic economics (or for that matter, truth), supported by a mainstream court-eunuch media who is dedicated to this Executive, madly (and angrily) scribbling economists who are out of their depth and deny reality, politicos with fatal levels of hubris and self-deception. Mistakes have consequences and that’s why the country is headed in the wrong direction.

The brilliance of Ross Douthat

Ross Douthat is a voice in the wilderness. (The wilderness is, of course, the New York Times.)

Ross has not only captured the essence of Obama’s big government America but he’s boiled it down to a bumper sticker which the left can now offer: the government will solve your problems.

Big government thus becomes Staples with its “easy” button.

Skeptics ask “If big government were going to solve our problems, wouldn’t they already be solved by now?” Or “If deficit spending could fix the economy, shouldn’t it be in grand shape by now?” Similarly they can point the failures across history of government to solve people’s problems; consider Nazi Germany, the USSR, Cambodia, and Red China for starters.

The reality is big government does not create value that’s commensurate with it’s costs. That, and the reality the poor you shall always have with you.

Big government promises to solve economic problems, disassociation, single parenthood, and the challenges it has itself created, fostered, and fermented via multiple moral hazards:

…the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women…

…the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

It seems that liberals fail to acknowledge that man is a fallen creature and that government is made up of flawed human beings just like us. The bigger the government (or the more powerful the government; they seem to go hand in hand), the bigger the accumulated flaws. The founding fathers had it right: government is to be constrained and not encouraged.

Non-government solutions—like families or the Church—face the challenge of still having to work through flawed human beings but generally with a better root-cause analysis. That is, they more often acknowledge our problems are first a condition of the heart (or of our basic nature) and somewhere after that, a condition of the pocketbook.

The left: legalized pot & homosexual marriage; no Big Gulps, cars, or guns

keeperThe left has a phrase it often falls back on. They fall back on it so often they have an ongoing contract with an important national-level printing company that specializes in protest signs, bumper stickers, and t-shirts. The phrase is “keep your laws off my body.”

The fundamental issue of the slogan is one of consent and the desire for governmental non-regulation, that is, personal freedom.

The phrase “keep your laws off my body” is thought to have its origins in the left’s desire for unfettered abortion, but it also has implications for the homosexual community, the use of recreational drugs, and more. However, some have postulated that abortion is bad for the child (and for the mother); that a homosexual lifestyle is less safe and healthy than an otherwise equivalent heterosexual lifestyle; that drugs make people do dangerous and foolish things.

On the other hand the left has no problem—it’s always for your own good—in keeping you from buying a 20 ounce Coke, or a weapon (for self-defense or recreation) or in making life so impossible to drive a car that there’s no practical choice but to opt for “public transportation” (unless you’re a high-ranking state official: then your time is more valuable and it’s state troopers driving your limo, taxpayer-provided helicopters, or even Air Force One).

Seat belts? Click-it-or-ticket (even in states that don’t require motorcyclists to wear helmets; go figure). “Junk food” vending machines in our schools? The left is outraged. One of Michelle Obama’s main goals in life is to impose joyless eating on our children and eventually, everyone else (except for an approved and particular state-approved “elite” which is somehow more equal than others).

And regarding that issue of consent and personal freedom, think about taxes. Whose money is it to begin with?

It could be a while before the left extends their thinking to its logical conclusion: “Keep your laws off my wallet, my car, my gun, my free speech, my religion, my children and family, and my Big Gulp.”

A Progressive Surge?

Only flat-earthers, as epitomized by The Nation, could take a narrow Obama victory (getting fewer votes than John McCain in 2008 and losing 10 million voters) and call it A Progressive Surge.

Mark Steyn offers a more realistic take on the Obama surge:

In the course of his first term, Obama increased the federal debt by just shy of $6 trillion and in return grew the economy by $905 billion. So, as Lance Roberts at Street Talk Live pointed out, in order to generate every dollar of economic growth the United States had to borrow about five dollars and 60 cents. There’s no one out there on the planet — whether it’s “the rich” or the Chinese — who can afford to carry on bankrolling that rate of return. According to one CBO analysis, U.S.-government spending is sustainable as long as the rest of the world is prepared to sink 19 percent of its GDP into U.S. Treasury debt. We already know the answer to that: In order to avoid the public humiliation of a failed bond auction, the U.S. Treasury sells 70 percent of the debt it issues to the Federal Reserve…

That’s a more accurate description of the progressive/regressive surge: increased federal debt, government misinvestment, and the Ponzi scheme that pays for it.

To lean on one of the left’s intellectual leaders, it’s the government spending, stupid. Things that can’t continue forever won’t.

Libtards fail to understand economics

The Obamunists, AKA the libtards, clearly fail to understand economics. Somehow, they are incapable of grasping that massive government intervention (for example, Obamacare) might actually dissuade business from hiring or from sustaining current hiring levels. Libtards are the ones who think things like healthcare, Obamaphones, and food stamps are free.

From Twitchy, one person knows the truth:

Among the commandments of life under the Obama administration: thou shalt not speak ill of Obamacare. Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter was hammered with Twitter abuse after informing shareholders and franchisees in August that implementing Obamacare would necessarily increase costs of running the business. Applebee’s [sic] is under the gun today after Zane Tankel, a franchisee whose company runs 40 New York-area restaurants, told Fox Business Network that a hiring freeze might be in the works.

Libtards somehow don’t get, or choose not to get, that government disincentives—whether ever-increasing regulatory constraints or government directed “investments”—lead to crony capitalism and reduced consumer (and employment) options.

Is the idea of government pizza—Papa Sam’s?—appealing?

Ultimately, someone must create value for society and the government can’t do it as well—or at all—as the market can.

Destroying progressive economists with half his brain tied behind his back

Art Laffer destroys liberal economists (and politicos) and their on-going call for mo’ stimulus.

The bottom line:

Of the 34 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations, those with the largest [government] spending spurts from 2007 to 2009 saw the least growth in GDP rates before and after the stimulus.

The four nations—Estonia, Ireland, the Slovak Republic and Finland—with the biggest stimulus programs had the steepest declines in growth. The United States was no different, with greater spending (up 7.3%) followed by far lower growth rates (down 8.4%).

The liberal economists will no doubt say “But it would have been so much worse without the stimulus.” Such an argument ignores the facts of this case: mo’ stimulus = mo’ economic shrinkage. It also ignores the fact the “stimulus” has to be repaid.

More:

…the truth is that government spending does come with debits. For every additional government dollar spent there is an additional private dollar taken. All the stimulus to the spending recipients is matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis every minute of every day by a depressant placed on the people who pay for these transfers. Or as a student of the dismal science might say, the total income effects of additional government spending always sum to zero.

I’d suggest that given the bureaucratic transaction costs and poor “investment” choices the government makes (think Solyndra, GM, et al) that the value gained is less than zero. And there’s still the moral hazard of mo’ stimulus:

Meanwhile, what economists call the substitution or price effects of stimulus spending are negative for all parties. In other words, the transfer recipient has found a way to get paid without working, which makes not working more attractive, and the transfer payer gets paid less for working, again lowering incentives to work.

When liberal economists (“experts” like Paul Krugman or Brad DeLong—how often we confuse credentials with knowledge) need to make a point, they often pull out a model or truncate the data. And as with global warming climate change climate chaos, all that’s required to get the desired results is to change the model’s algorithms and/or its inputs.

The silence of the leftist lambs

Heard about any honor killings by Christians?

No.

What you do hear about is nanny state politicos in Chicago and Boston wanting to ban Chick-fil-A because the restaurants’ ideas don’t match those of the professional left (including the tolerance, equality, and diversity communities).

So while you won’t hear the same lefties in the media or politics saying anything about honor killings, one writer wants that to change. I don’t think it will.

For the left, their bumper stickers notwithstanding, some are simply more equal than others and tolerance must be imposed by the wise.

Why we need more government

bailoutThe call for ever-more government is compelling, assuming you’re into crony capitalism, venture communism, and the privatization of profit and the socialization of risk.

And America’s misnamed “elites,” especially the left, seem to be into all these things. Why? In order to transfer money and power to those the government chooses to reward. After all, who could know more than the elites?

But even the paper of record for all things government can’t deny the real truth in a review of Neil Barofsky’s new book Bailout.

Government officials, he [Barofsky] says, eagerly served Wall Street interests at the public’s expense…

Barofsky was the special investigator for TARP, the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (or as it’s more commonly described, “the troubled TARP program”).

“The suspicions that the system is rigged in favor of the largest banks and their elites, so they play by their own set of rules to the disfavor of the taxpayers who funded their bailout, are true,” Mr. Barofsky said in an interview last week. “It really happened. These suspicions are valid.”

The solution to the problem, any problem, has become more government intervention. Psychotic college student goes on murderous rampage? Gun control and more homeland security. Healthcare cost too high? Legislate—and simply declare—that it’ll be cheaper. Too many fat people as determined by government bureaucrats? Deem Big Gulps to be illegal. And regarding other legislation?

Mr. Barofsky’s assessment of his former regulatory brethren is crucial for taxpayers to understand, because Congress’s financial reform act — the Dodd-Frank legislation — left so much of the heavy lifting to the weak-kneed.

“So much of what’s wrong with Dodd-Frank is it trusts the regulators to be completely immune to the corrupting influences of the banks,” he said in the interview. “That’s so unrealistic. Congress has to take a meat cleaver to these banks and not trust regulators to do the job with a scalpel.”

Of course, that assessment assumes Congress can be trusted with a meat cleaver; Dodd-Frank was written when Dems controlled everything. While the 2010 elections improved the House, the Senate still can’t be trusted with anything sharper than a marble.

I don’t know when the cumulative detrimental effects caused by our government began, but we’re well into the decline and our suffering is great.

C’mon November!

More government: it’s for the children

Read an anecdote about the corruption associated with Ontario’s automotive emissions testing and then read all the war-stories about others who’ve had similar problems on emissions testing and safety inspections in the comments. While we all want clean and safe vehicles—and we want others to have the same—the issue is really one of 1) whether it’s worth the time and money and 2) can we feel confident about the results?

Liberals often veil their intentions by using a motherhood and apple-pie appeal. It’s for the children. If that fails, it’s for the environment. If that fails, it’s for your own good and regardless, it’s always an issue of “common sense.”

As the terminator might say: “Your guns. Give them to me. It’s for the children and it’s common sense.”

The reality is it’s really all about the power, a position driven by a worldview and embraced by our President which offers this: people are too lazy/stupid/ignorant/otherwise flawed to make choices for themselves.

It’s thus ironic that the liberal solution always calls for layering on more government (comprised of human beings) or legislation (written by human beings and calling for more government) to check, approve, control, and/or restrict. The conservative solution is to allow the market to fulfill people’s needs—within the framework of the founding documents—and  allow them to choose themselves.

And the supreme irony—and sadness—of the liberal worldview? The children themselves will be the bill-payers for the liberals’ initiatives. Why? I think it’s because they don’t vote.

A benevolent weed wacker for the government garden

A benevolent weed wacker for the government garden

By ERIC CLUE and NICK HACKER

Since the days of Jesse Jackson (the elder, not the younger), we have become political prisoners of the alliterations we use, even when they are mightily misleading. Consider how our political powers talk about the economy. Last month President Obama praised immigrants as an “economic engine.” Mitt Romney says that tax cuts will “forever fuel” a recovery. Others like Joe Biden, the Administration’s leading intellectual, fear a “super scary stop” in job growth unless the nation keeps doing what it’s been doing.

But our many alliterations ignore the need for a benevolent weed wacker in “the marketplace.” We too often tend to think of markets as extremely efficient, of humans as routinely rational, of incentives as commonly clear, and of outcomes as approximately appropriate. From this a series of market-based total truths follows: regulation and taxes are rotten and terrible because they impede the market’s implicit weed wacking works. Government stimulus is wimpy, wasteful, and wishful.

Together, these compose the great gospel of the market mavens. However, according to the alliterations and mega-metaphors we’ve developed—along with our proprietary algorithms—there is simply no evidence for it. We say trickle-down economics has fatally failed. What has worked? The President’s great leveling efforts (often derisively called trickle-up poverty) which have made everything free for so many Americans: college, disability payments, health care, housing, transportation, food stamps, cable television and high speed internet, and unlimited unemployment.

The 2008 crash and the Great Recession prove irrefutably how inefficient and irrational markets really are. And there is absolutely no evidence in the heart of any properly indoctrinated liberal economist that government interference could have possibly contributed to such happenings. None.

What we require now is a friendlier framework for thoughtfully thinking and tactfully talking about a new economy, grounded in modern understandings of how we want things to work. Economies (as social scientists and even liberal arts majors understand) aren’t super simple, largely linear and perfectly predictable, but complex, nonlinear and ecosystemic. An economy isn’t a machine; it’s a garden as shown by the mixed metaphors and subtle settled science of the documentary film Being There. The economy can be fruitful if well tended, but it will be overrun by obnoxious weeds if not.

So what is needed? A new framework, which we call Gardenbrain. With Gardenbrain, markets can become both efficient and effective if managed by government gardeners armed with benevolent weed wacking policies. Where Marketbrain—the idea that the marketplace actually works—posits that individual effort and initiative should be honored, Gardenbrain recognizes that we’re all better off when none of us are better off. Where Marketbrain treats inequality as the predictable result of unequally distributed talent and work ethic, Gardenbrain reveals that sophomoric subsidies and crony capitalism can instead help create a self-licking ice cream cone.

Gardenbrain challenges any non-liberal policy. And gardens are lovely and delicious while markets are ugly and malicious.

Consider regulation. Under the prevailing Marketbrain assumption, regulation is an invasive interruption of wealth creation in a largely self-correcting economic system. But the Gardenbrain metaphor, backed by our insightful ideology, allows us to instead assert an economy cannot self-correct any more than a garden can self-tend. And regulation — the creation of government standards to raise the government-determined quality of life — is God’s work.

Is it possible to garden clumsily and ineffectively? In a word, no (excluding mismanaged economies like East Germany and the former Soviet Union). Wise regulation is how humbly humanistic societies turn a dangerous jungle of “freedom” into a prosperous government garden. According to our algorithms, this explains why wherever one finds a highly-regulated economy one also finds a large and powerful government Leviathan. And where regulation is lessened, we find widespread freedom which can be a precursor to anarchy.

Or take taxes. Under the efficient-market hypothesis, taxes are an extraction of resources from the market. Taxes are not just separate from economic activity, but holistically hostile to it. Yet if this was an accurate reflection of our self-selected reality, then given our low and lax tax rates we should be wallowing in work. (Full disclosure: our algorithms have filtered outliers that don’t confirm our hypothesis, such as the current European economic situation.)

Gardenbrain, in contrast, says taxes are the foundational fertilizer which allows us to sustain the government garden. A well-designed tax system — in which the rich (those households making anything close to $200K/year) contribute and the poor (those much-needed special interest groups and voting blocs) benefit — ensures that wealth is properly “spread around” in order to foster fairness and satisfy standards. Reducing taxes on so-called “job creators” is fantastical folly. Jobs, we now know, are the consequence of a feedback loop between government, the people, and demand—as best managed by a government controlled economy—which truly creates jobs. Good growth doesn’t trickle down; it emerges organically from the government out.

Lastly, consider spending. The word spending means literally “to use up or extinguish value,” and most Americans believe that’s exactly what government does with their tax dollars. But government spending is not a simple single-step transaction that destroys dollars as an engine burns evil and dangerous fossil fuels; instead it’s an investment that circulates the government’s money. To invest tax dollars on education, green energy, the children, clean air and water, undocumented workers, free healthcare, and the likes is to carefully circulate natural nutrients through the grand garden of government.

Humans, we existentialists say, emerged from the primordial ooze and know there is no enduring truth. Perhaps that is why we have long had a poor understanding of the relative truth needed to grow government gardens. We need to elect the right gardeners (our benevolent weed wacking and redistributional elites), have them secure the soil (through, for example, the whenever-required application of eminent domain), and then depend on their goodness and wisdom (to properly cast the seeds of investment). Of course, they’ll also fertilize, water and wack the weeds for us. Lastly, our good government gardeners must also input algorithm changes, add useful alliterations, allegories, and metaphors, and when needed, re-define language in order to create the ideological story the people should hear. When the marketplace of ideas is finally eliminated by our elites, the fine and fruitful government garden will grow greatly.

Eric Clue and Nick Hacker are the authors of “The Government Gardens of Goodness: A Story We Made Up on Citizenship, the Economy, and the Role of Government.”

(Note: if you must, read the original here.)

Outsourcing education, character development, and parenthood itself

George Will offers an interesting column on the Chicago Teachers Union, but it’s more than that. The column touches on much of what’s gone wrong with the larger Academic-Education Complex (and later, becomes even broader still):

Unions can wound themselves by injuring their industries (e.g., steel and autos), but primary blame for improvident contracts with public employees belongs to the elected public officials who grant them.

Are the unions (to include government unions), killing the goose that lays the golden eggs? Or is it leadership who approves such union contracts? It seems both are conspirators in seeking rewards, whether those rewards come in the form of pay and benefits or re-election. And speaking of the goose, that sure is a mess of blood, guts, and feathers laying in the middle of the street.

And why would my olfactory system sense more liberal enthusiasm for new federal bailouts with the intended beneficiary being the members of the academic-educational complex (or the even larger public-service complex)?

There’s also plenty of teachers union blame the victim thinking at work here, even if its logic ultimately fails.

…money — salaries and pensions — may not be the most problematic point of contention. It might be teacher “accountability,” including merit pay, and identifying failing schools and teachers. [Chicago Teachers Union President Karen] Lewis says, “We can’t choose the children that come into our classrooms.” Chicago schools are 86 percent black and Hispanic, and low pupil performances strongly correlate with household incomes.

Teachers unions, however, have painted themselves into a corner by insisting that spending is the best predictor of educational performance — increase financial inputs and cognitive outputs will rise.

In the last 50 years, real per-pupil spending nationwide has tripled and the number of pupils per teacher has declined by a third, yet educational attainments have fallen.

Then, Mr. Will gets quite close to the real issue, the disintegration of the traditional societal values, the family, and of parental responsibility. Wait, we were told it takes a village, weren’t we?

In Chicago, 84 percent of African-American children and 57 percent of Hispanic children are born to unmarried women.

The city is experiencing an epidemic of youth violence — a 38 percent surge in the homicide rate, 53 people shot on a recent weekend, random attacks by roving youth mobs. Social regression, driven by family disintegration, means schools where teaching is necessarily subordinated to the arduous task of maintaining minimal order.

So is Chicago the next Detroit? And is America the next Chicago?

Educational failings are merely symptoms of what happens when government incentivizes the wrong things using other people’s money. And the distortion of government interference reaches far beyond the non-competitive public education monopoly (which itself falls under the larger social-welfare monopoly of public housing, health care, make-work jobs programs, food stamps, green energy, etc.). Conversely, liberals stake out a different position and feel it’s a beneficial thing that our elites know what we really need and what’s good for us.

Elite is rapidly becoming a word which has lost all meaning. Now hurry up and eat your government cheese (and don’t forget your Supreme Court mandated vegetables, either).

Controlling the economy

Liberal politicos, agencies, commissars, czars, bureaucrats, and their court stenographers all have a problem with their worldview: it isn’t reality-based.

Their worldview asserts government is in control and that with only a bit more government power and with the right enlightened leaders pushing government’s mighty levers, intractable problems will simply go away. Whoosh.

And when that doesn’t work, as it hasn’t for the President, you are forced to run from your own record and blame others.

Reality shows that the economy is a little more difficult to control. From Janet Daley:

The economy is now beyond the control of national governments, and therefore outside the remit of democratic politics. It has become truly global, and thus a law unto itself; nation states have gone broke in their attempt to feed its gargantuan appetites for consumption and debt. The remedies for this began in panic and are now ending in delusion: first the banks went bust and were bailed out by governments; then the governments went bust and needed to be bailed out by – whom? International funding agencies which get their cash from – where? From central banks which will have to print gigantic amounts of money to replace all the money that simply disappeared in the bad debt that bankrupted the banks in the first place. And if we all agree to accept the illusion that this newly printed cash has actual value – if we all clap really hard and say that we believe in fairies – then the whole show can get back on the road and we will be rich again.

When you unpack the liberal economic mash of how value is created down to the component level, you’re left with their fundamental (and sad) assertion: and then a miracle occurs.

But and then a miracle occurs won’t carry the day for the secular, cynical, and progressive; it isn’t adequate. Instead,

The official solution… is to eradicate more forcibly than ever the messy democratic accountability of national governments to their people.

Hence the undemocratic and extra-legal actions of the aforementioned politicos, commissars, agencies, czars, bureaucrats, and media stenographers. Legislation by regulation and/or executive order must rule the day. It’s for your own good, they say.

Unwinding the work of many well-intentioned fools would normally be be a multi-generational task but it’s likely to move much faster once the people realize the dire straights our elites have placed us in.