I don’t like Bernie because he’s a socialist

Bernie sanders yelling

[92,000 104,000 116,000 121,000 130,000 142,000 people and counting.  I must have hit a nerve here….  Welcome to all of you, even the trolls (of whom there are many, and yes, dear trolls, I am ignoring you in the comments section).]

My older Little Bookworm can vote in the upcoming election, so she’s paying a bit of attention to things.  She told me that, on her SnapChat and Facebook pages, all of her friends are mesmerized by Bernie and most of them are getting information from a website called “I Like Bernie, But….”  I checked out the website, didn’t like it, and created my own website called “I Don’t Like Bernie, Because….”  The following is my first post at the new website:

Isn’t Bernie a socialist? Why, yes he is

The website I Like Bernie, But… takes it upon itself to answer concerned readers who ask “Isn’t Bernie a socialist?”  It assures these people that Bernie isn’t a socialist socialist. Instead, he’s a democratic socialist, which the website promises is something entirely different:

Bernie is a democratic socialist

The above conclusions are just wrong, and they’re so very wrong that they need to be corrected and explained in a lot of paragraphs.  Here goes:

To begin with, you need to understand what it really means to be a socialist.  Only then can you understand that putting the word “democratic” in front of “socialist” doesn’t change anything.

So what is a “socialist” system?  Think of the realm of available politics as a line moving from left to right.  On the far left side are totalitarian regimes, which means government has all the control and the people have none.  At the far right side is anarchy, which means there is no government at all, although the resulting chaos usually means that people have no control either.  (Ironically, anarchy usually ends when a strong man takes over and creates a totalitarian regime.)

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A retirement home offers a painful reminder about monopolies’ negative effects on consumers

monopoly-logoYesterday, I attended a meeting at my mother’s retirement community and got a very good reminder about why monopolies are bad for consumers. Without breaching privacy, I can tell you this: the retirement community is one in which residents pay a significant buy-in fee, which they are told is applied to their tenancy for the first ten years. Thus, if they leave the community at any time within the first ten years, they are entitled to have refunded an increasingly small percentage of their original buy-in fee. If the resident dies within the first ten years, the fee is not refundable to the resident’s estate.  For current residents, depending when they bought in, these fees range from $150,000 to $250,000.

In addition to the buy-in fee, the residents pay a sizable monthly rental for room, food, amenities (such as a pool and small library), and services. These services include drivers to local malls and doctor’s appointments. Almost without exception, in order to fund the buy-in and rental, the residents sell the homes in which they lived. Unless the residents are quite wealthy, they are then locked in, because they no longer have the wherewithal to go anywhere else.

Unfortunately for the residents, their monthly rentals have been going up at a rate in excess of inflation. This is disturbing enough but, worse, the services and food they receive for this increased rent, rather than staying the same or even becoming better, are diminishing. Favored service employees are being squeezed out and either not replaced or replaced with less qualified people,* and the food is less appealing — something that’s a problem for elderly people who have aging taste buds and delicate appetites to begin with.

The home is also accepting primarily older and sicker residents who are more likely to die within a short time of moving in.  Doing this ensures a greater supply of those non-refundable buy-in fees.  A younger, healthier population, of course, results in lower turnover.  This admission policy diminishes the community’s vitality, which used to have a good spread of people ranging in age from 65 to 105, but now tends to an older, sicker demographic (something I’ve noticed when visiting my mother).

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Thieving monkeys and government corruption

Monkey with iPhoneOne of my friends posted a very cute video on Facebook. If you can’t get the video to work, what you would see if you watched it is some clever monkeys in a Japanese tourist area. Rather than stealing people’s food, they instead steal people’s glasses, hats, flip-flops, and even their smart phones.

This is not a sign of monkey brain-death, with the monkeys so fascinated by modern technology they no longer care about food. Quite the contrary. It’s a sign of advanced monkey intelligence. Stealing food is random, leaving them with whatever dribs, drabs, and dregs they can find.  Stealing things humans consider valuable gives them something to hold for ransom.  Thus, the monkeys will return the stolen items only if the owner offers them a sufficiently satisfying quality and quantity of food:

Now, some might think this is just cute and clever, or that it shows that monkeys understand supply and demand as well as the concept of bartering. People with these thoughts will be right, but they’ll also be missing the bigger picture. What Wolf Howling pointed out to me when he saw the video is that we are witnessing government (or the mafia) in action: The monkeys forcibly remove something of value from the people unfortunate enough to be in their jurisdiction, and then make people pay ransom to recover whatever it was the government took in the first place. This is not government of the people, by the people, and for the people; it’s corruption.

And while I’m on the topic of government corruption, I’d like to throw in a few words here about Daniel Hannan’s Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World, which, peculiarly enough, has something to say about thieving monkeys.  Not in those precise words, of course, but his discussion about liberty and capitalism seems to apply to those clever primates.

I bought the book back in July, when I was fortunate enough to attend one of Hannan’s speaking engagements, but I’m embarrassed to say that the book languished on my “to read” stack until this week. Because Hannan is erudite, charming, and articulate, I knew the book would be worth the read, but I spent the last half of 2015 scrambling from one family demand to the next, and coddled myself in between with a steady, pathetic diet of my junk novels.

This year, is different: I am steadily resuming control over my life and over my reading, so I sat down to read Inventing Freedom and, so far, have found it a much more interesting and enjoyable read than any junk novel could have been. I was depriving myself of something really pleasurable by delaying so long before reading it. Anyway, the last six months are water under the bridge, and I want to talk about Hannan’s book, which I’m almost halfway through.

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Nailing the heart of Benghazi

I wrote a lovely post, right here, last night.  Cheerfully hit the “publish” button and went to bed — only to wake up this morning to discover that the post not only didn’t get published, it vanished entirely.  I’m not sure I can replicate it, but I’ll try.

The point I was trying to make was about the morality that can or should undermine political systems.  I’d had a talk with a very mature, thoughtful teen, whose parents raised her to revile capitalism as an evil system that needs to be tempered by big government.  I said that it needed to be tempered by morality.  I pointed out that Adam Smith came up with his “invisible hand” theory at a highly religiously moral time, when it was inconceivable that any government would exist in a moral vacuum.  He knew, of course, that there were hard, cruel people who had no truck with morality, but it was also probably inconceivable to him that there could a paradigm without an overarching moral sense.

Texas booms, I suggested, not just because it’s capitalist, but because it’s in the Bible Belt.  China has slave labor, practically slave labor, and tainted goods (melanin in foods, antibiotics in bees, etc.) because it’s capitalism without a moral paradigm.  The State has no room for morality and when the state is the only thing Left, morality leaves society.

The next day, I read Darren Jonescu’s scathing indictment of the particular brand of evil that Hillary and Obama exemplify.  I’m quoting a lot, but there is a lot more to read, and I urge you to read it all:

In the first months after the Benghazi attack, the most urgent question, and one only rarely asked, was “What were Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton doing during the seven and a half hours between the initial emergency communications from Benghazi and the final American deaths?” A negative answer was provided in February by Leon Panetta: they were not engaging with their subordinates; they were not contacting anyone to discuss options; they were giving no orders for action; they remained entirely uninvolved.

We are left to speculate about the positive answer to that question. Were they sleeping? Curled up by the fire with a good manifesto? Playing poker with Huma and the gang? Practicing jokes for a fundraising speech? Your guess is as good as mine.

And none of these guesses really matter in the end, compared to the looming horror that attends any of thepossibilities, namely this: the president and secretary of state of the most powerful nation on Earth are impervious to shame. They can do — they have done — what you hope you could never do, what you pray your children will never be able to do, what psychologists fill academic journals attempting to explain. They were informed that their countrymen — their appointees — were being attacked, were issuing repeated cries for help, and, if nothing were done to intercede, were likely to be killed. Knowing this, and knowing, further, that they had at their disposal the most powerful military in the world, no risk of personal harm, and many subordinates prepared to leap into action at their word, they blithely walked away from the desperate men pleading for their help, and carried on with whatever they happened to be doing that night. They let other men suffer unto death without lifting a finger to help, or even indicating a moment’s regret for their inaction after the fact.

They demonstrated a cold lack of interest in the suffering of others — not the abstract, theoretical suffering of collective interest groups, such as “the poor” or “gays” or “women,” but the real physical pain and mortal terror-style suffering of individual human beings in mortal crisis.

Walking home one evening, you hear men across the street shouting for help, as they are in the process of being overwhelmed by a gang of thugs. You walk away, unconcerned with their cries or the sounds of bats smacking down on their flesh. You do not call the police or volunteer any assistance. You go to bed and sleep well. The next day, and each subsequent day, you carry on with your life of fun, friends, and self-indulgence, never giving a second thought to the men who died because you did not care to help. If a neighborhood reporter asks you about the crime, you put on your gravest voice and say, “Gosh, that’s so sad; I hope they find the creeps who did it.”

Right.  What he said.  Both Hillary and Obama claim to have been raised religiously.  Hillary showed up for church in her days as First Lady, but doesn’t seem to bother to do so now.  Obama gave up the pretense of religion the moment was elected.  For both, there are only two Gods:  the state and their particular political needs at the moment.  Neither has a sense of right or wrong independent of their particular pragmatic concerns at any given time.

I’ve mentioned before a year 2000 movie called The Contender, about an upstanding Democrat woman whom the evil Republicans falsely accuse of group sex to derail her appointment to fill a vacant Vice Presidency.  The most interest part of the movie comes when the woman, played by Joan Allen, makes her statement to Congress, a bastion of wholesome Democrats and foul Republicans:

And, Mr. Chairman, I stand for the separation of Church and State, and the reason that I stand for that is the same reason that I believe our forefathers did. It is not there to protect religion from the grasp of government but to protect our government from the grasp of religious fanaticism.

[The Founders could not have made it more clear that Freedom of Religion, which is contained in the First Amendment, protects religion from government, not vice versa.  The Amendment’s language is unequivocal:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” There’s nothing in there mandating that no religious person can serve in Congress or have a say in America’s government.]

Now, I may be an atheist, but that does not mean I do not go to church. I do go to church. The church I go to is the one that emancipated the slaves [that would be the Republican sect of the church], that gave women the right to vote, that gave us every freedom that we hold dear. My church is this very Chapel of Democracy that we sit in together, and I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes. I need my heart, my brain, and this church.  [And there you have it — President Obama’s creed writ large:  “I do not need God to tell me what are my moral absolutes.  I need my heart, my brain, and this (Progressive) church.]

Found it on Facebook — Socialism versus Capitalism

In an earlier post, I ranted about the nasty vapidity that characterizes the “posters” my liberal friends put up on Facebook whenever an election draws near.  I also mentioned that my conservative friends consistently post more substantive articles and images.  This one, from my brother-in-law, manages to be both pithy and substantive.  It packs a world of ideas into a picture and two sentences:

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything before that so clearly distinguishes the fundamental differences in the premises from which socialists and capitalists operate when they make their political arguments.  This poster provides a perfect visual to Winston Churchill’s own epigrammatic statement that “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

Obama’s supporters do too believe in free enterprise *UPDATED*

Obama has been going after traditional American capitalism with a vengeance.  He’s graduated far beyond his Joe the Plumber kerfuffle, and his vague murmurings about the fact that it’s possible for people to earn too much (excluding, of course, Obama himself and all his rich friends).  With his attacks on Bain, he’s saying straight out that the American way of doing business is evil and should replaced by something more friendly, such as a completely government controlled economy.

I therefore found it tremendously amusing to learn that one of his main bundlers was herself something of an entrepreneur in the old days:

A major Obama campaign fundraiser wrote, directed, and produced a 2004 film titled “I Want To Strip For My Man But I Don’t Know How … Unleashing the Naughty Girl In You!” that instructs “everyday women” how to strip.

Stacii Jae Johnson, who currently serves as special events director in the office of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D) and has bundled between $50,000 and $100,000 for the Obama reelection campaign, is a former Hollywood actress with extensive connections to the film and television industries.

I wonder if sex will still be allowed to sell in the new Obama economy or if everyone will just have to give it away for free, per some government code akin to the health care mandate….

UPDATE:  For more serious thoughts about Obama’s attack on capitalism, Jay Cost has (as always) smart things to say.

Edward Conard makes sense — no wonder the Left hates him

The New York Times has a long article about Edward Conard, a former Bains partner, who makes the case — a compelling one, I believe — that in America, the wealthy aren’t parasites, they’re economically useful.  In a stagnant, agrarian class society, the wealthy simply live at the top, feeding off the poor.  In a dynamic marketplace, however, the wealthy don’t simply hoard their money in bags of gold and jewelry.  They spend as much as they are able (and, no matter how extravagant they are, it isn’t that much relative to their wealth), and they invest the rest.  In addition, because it’s their money, not other people’s money that they are investing, they invest it with an eye to market efficiency and profitability, rather than wasting it on political correctness and drowning it in bureaucracy.  It’s that last point that explains why the wealthy better than the government when it comes to creating wealth, not just for themselves, but for others.

Conard spells this out in his new book, Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About the Economy Is Wrong.  This may be a good vacation read for me.

Wendell Romney

Does history repeat itself? I fervently hope not.

Ok, I have grudgingly thrown my support behind Mitt Romney. It’s not that I am excited about Romney as a candidate, but I am genuinely excited about the need to get Obama out of office before he does irreversible damage to this country. But, here is where I see a problem:

In one corner, we have a radical Marxist/Progressive, with little to no understanding of human nature and economics, who is on a tear to totally transform society to fit a bankrupt utopian ideology. In the process, he destroys jobs, strips companies of investment capital, destroys human capital, demonizes success, romanticizes failure, takes command of and promptly ruins entire segments of the economy, undermines the Constitution, blatantly disregards the law and does his very best to bankrupt the country while redefining entire segments of the population as dependent wards of the state.

In the other corner, we have a square-jawed, well-coiffed, highly intelligent, erudite and successful businessman who made his mark in an industry demonized and under constant assault by the President. Formerly a Liberal, he now claims to be a Conservative, although large swaths of the Republican party refuse to accept his supposed conversion to conservatism as sincere. He is a nice, rational man who believes in using soft-spoken discourse to sway people and find common ground. Rather than go on a blistering attack in support of the capitalist, free-enterprise economy, he ends up trying to placate the population with his moderation and management credentials, while fending off internal strife within the Republican Party between those that promote strong advocacy of conservative principles and those seeking an accommodationist “middle way”. In many ways, he remains tone deaf to how others perceive him to be and how they react to his awkward choices of words.

This man of whom I speak was Wendell Willkie. He ran against FDR in 1940 and got creamed by 5 million votes. Now, I realize there are many differences between then and now, but take a look at these photos below and please tell me they don’t suggest a spooky echo of the past.

Wendell Willkie

Mitt Romney

The #antisemitism of #OWS

Antisemitism in connection with OWS was a no-brainer.  The Left is antisemitic.  It has been since Marx.  Hitler institutionalized it to deadly effect.  Stalin was less methodical than Hitler, but he made Judaism illegal and instituted various pogroms within his own party to drive out, imprison or kill Jews.

No matter how many Jews are on the Left (and Jews are, unforgivably, still drawn there), the Left understands that Judaism in the abstract stands for individualism and justice, two notions antithetical to collectivism.  The Left has also historically conflated Jews with capitalism.  Jews, of course, aren’t the only capitalists (statistically, they’re only a small percentage of capitalists); they’re just visible capitalists if you’re a Jew hater.

In the coming days and weeks, you’re going to see an increasing number of articles and videos in the conservative media about the increasing antisemitism connected with the Occupy this city and that city.  Today, we’ll start with just two:  a photo essay from L.A. and a video, which you can see below:

My questions for you:  How long do you think it will be before the MSM pays attention?  Or, an even better question, do you think the MSM will ever pay attention?  Same question[s] regarding leading Democrat politicians, such as Obama, Pelosi and Reid….

Greed is so good that it might just save America — if Veruca Salt doesn’t kill us first

Maybe it’s Americans’ innate capitalist instinct — the need to commercialize everything — that is our true bulwark against a Russian or French style revolution. Sadly, though, it’s that same acquisitive quality, the one that sees most American young people grow up as Veruca Salt, that encourages the temporary ravages and inconveniences of publicly staged adolescent temper tantrums. The only bulwark against those tantrums is a culture that actually requires young people to grow up.