“I heard Bernie wants to raise taxes” — you heard right, and it’s going to hurt

Bernie sanders yellingMy daughter introduced me to a pro-Bernie site called I Like Bernie, But….  There, in response to various concerns voters might have about Bernie (e.g., he’s a socialist or a taxer), the website provides short, pithy, and entirely inaccurate responses aimed at setting those fears to rest.

Because I know that the website appeals strongly to young voters, I created a website called I Don’t Like Bernie, Because… that challenges the misinformation.  Today I challenged the pro-Bernie’ website’s breezy promise that higher taxes on the rich will easily fund Bernie’s spending plans, leaving tons of money left over for everyone else.  Here’s that post:

“I heard he wants to raise taxes” — you heard right, and it’s going to hurt

The new website I Like Bernie, But tries to calm people’s fears about Bernie Sander’s socialist extremism.  It states questions reflecting concerns that people might have about Bernie, and then provides pithy little answers refuting those fears.

In a previous post, I addressed the myriad falsehoods, omissions, and misconceptions in the website’s assurance that Bernie isn’t a dangerous socialist, he’s a good socialist. This post addresses the misleading answer to a concern that “I heard he [Bernie] wants to raise taxes.”

Here’s what I Like Bernie, But…. has to say about Bernie and taxes:

I Like Bernie But On Taxes

That’s simply false. Here’s the truth:

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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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Government-imposed minimum wages: A world that cultivates every person’s inner Veruca Salt

veruca-salt-now2

A month ago, my Facebook feed (which reflects the fact that many of my friends are Progressives) was suddenly overrun by a series of posters, all pointing out that minimum wage work is insufficient to support the cost of a two bedroom apartment.  It’s unlikely that the new minimum wage laws that went into effect on January 1, 2016, in 14 states will change these charts:

minimum wage won't afford two bedroom apartment

Also, in a charming irony, that problem is worse in most blue states compared to most red ones, as you’ll see if you compare the two charts below:

Minimum wage two bedroom apartment

red state - blue state

There are three major bad ideas packed into the notion that minimum wage should be the Rolls Royce of salaries.

The first problem is basic economics: The reality is that a higher minimum wage benefits the few over the many:

Increasing the minimum wage is an inefficient way to reduce poverty, according to a Fed research paper that comes amid a national clamor to hike pay for workers at the low end of the salary scale.

David Neumark, visiting scholar at the San Francisco Fed, contends in the paper that raising the minimum wage has only limited benefits in the war against poverty, due in part because relatively few of those falling below the poverty line actually receive the wage.

Many of the benefits from raising the wage, a move already undertaken by multiple governments around the country as well as some big-name companies, tend to go to higher-income families, said Neumark, who also pointed to research that shows raising wages kills jobs through higher costs to employers.

On its face, then, the charts’ premise, which is that higher minimum wages will see everyone in better homes, is wrong.

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Promoting socialism is like giving candy to little kids (and just as dangerous for the kids)

Lenin posterYesterday, John Hinderaker asked “Can the Democrats Mainstream Socialism?”  After all, Bernie is proudly stating that he is a Democratic Socialist (which we hope is different from a National Socialist, although he seems just as intent upon controlling all citizens within his realm).  It’s not just Bernie, though.  Hinderaker looks  at Democrat party pushes for socialism, coupled with scary numbers about Americans’ receptivity to this doctrine.

What any logical, intelligent, educated person will do, is point to the fact that socialism, since it first reared its head during the French Revolution, and then later as Marx refined it, has been a failure everywhere it’s been tried.  As best, it’s bankrupted nations, as it’s doing with Europe; at worst, it’s resulted in blood-soaked domestic tyrannies that often sought to spread their loathsome tentacles throughout other lands, a death-ravaged tale that traverses the world from the former USSR, to Italy, to Germany, to China, to North Korea, to Vietnam, to Cuba, etc., etc., etc.

I was bemoaning to a friend the fact that Americans seem incapable of learning from history.  Of course, a lot of young Americans who are products of modern American education don’t know history or, if they do know history, it’s a version that would make Marx proud.  I’ve already suffered through one child getting an AP US History education and am now valiantly combating the dreck that’s being visited on my second child.

But even people who ought to know better — the ones who still managed to catch the rag-tag end of a decent education before the 1980s or so — are drawn like moths to a flame when they hear the word “free.”  “Free education!” “Free healthcare!” “Free retirement care!”  They can’t seem to stop themselves.  They hear the sound and every rational thought flees their brain.

I realized today what this phenomenon reminds me of.  It reminds me of this scenario:

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The collected (nit)wit and (un)wisdom of Bernie Sanders

My Progressive friends are flooding my Facebook feed with posters dedicated to what they perceive as the “wit and wisdom” of avowed socialist and Democrat Party candidate Bernie Sanders.  I thought I’d take a look at what passes for intelligence from Bernie Sanders and his acolytes on the Left.  My comments are below each poster.  Please feel free to chime and, most definitely, to correct me if I’m wrong:

Bernie Sanders on childhood poverty

You’ll constantly see Bernie use this type of “cause” and “effect” rhetoric.  To Bernie, too many millionaires and billionaires equals poor children.  In this, he is just as sophisticated as the Climate Changistas who attribute every weather event and every societal wrong to climate change.

Here’s the reality about those poverty stricken children, and it has nothing to do with the Koch Brothers (who are Bernie’s favorite bête noire and scapegoat).  In a free(ish) market system, there is one sure way to become financially secure:  study, marry, and have children, in that order.  If you skip studying (and this is true no matter how useless America’s higher education system is), you’re less likely to have money.  And if you skip marriage on your way to children, you’ve virtually consigned those children to poverty:

A dramatic rise in unwed births and the accompanying decline in marriage are the most important cause of child poverty in the United States. As Chart 1 shows, in 2009, 37.1 percent of single-parent families with children in the U.S. were poor. In the same year, only 6.8 percent of married couples with children were poor. Single-parent families were nearly six times more likely to be poor than were married families.

[snip]

The overwhelming majority of poor families with children in the U.S. are not married. (Overall, a third of all families with children at all income levels are not married.) But a staggering 71 percent of all poor families with children are unmarried. By contrast, married couples comprise only around 29 percent of poor families with children. (See Chart 2.)

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Bookworm Beat 8-11-15 — the illustrated edition, devoted to excavating the Leftist mind through Facebook posters

Woman-writing-300x265One of my Facebook friends is an uber-Leftist, although he does staunchly support Israel.  He never puts up personal posts.  Instead, his Facebook feed is filled with posters, some inspirational, some funny, some pro-Israel, and most pro-Left and anti-Republican.

I thought that for this illustrated edition, instead of the usual conservative-oriented posters, I’d take a peak at, and run some comments by, the stuff coming from the Left.  In each case, my commentary about a poster will be below the poster.

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Hey, Sweden! How’s that open immigration and PC-multiculturalism working out in your faux-socialist land?

swedish-rape-victimI was cruel to a young Swede the other day when, without being at all rude, I told him unpleasant, unnerving truths about his country. First, I told him that his country never really had socialized medicine. Instead, it had “paid for by America” medicine. During the Cold War, Sweden was able to put aside a nation’s first obligation to its citizens, which is to defend it against foreign enemies, when America took on that role. With the money freed from defense, Sweden could have pretend socialized medicine.

The second thing I told him is that Sweden never had real socialism. (Yes, I’m sure this is a shocker to many of you, because Sweden is considered the ultimate socialist success story.) The reality, though, is that Sweden never truly had an all-powerful central government. That anomaly is due to something sui generis about the Scandinavian countries: In the years after WWII these countries were small, racially homogeneous, and comprised of citizens all of whose minds had the identical values. This meant that Sweden’s socialism was more of a societal collaboration. It never needed the strong arm necessary for socialization in countries lacking any one of those specific and unique factors.

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[VIDEO] Daniel Hannan on the fact that Nazis were socialists

I was fortunate enough to hear Daniel Hannan speak earlier this year. He is, in a word, brilliant. A few other words: informed, moral, funny, articulate, and a true classic liberal. In a just world, he’d be one of our greatest statesman. In today’s world . . . well, we’re still fortunate enough to get to hear him speak:

The Bookworm Beat — 9/11/14’s “ISIS and other stuff” edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingLet the information download begin:

Alleged New York Times Baghdad Bureau Chief lambastes Obama administration

If a Reddit user really is Tim Arango, Baghdad Bureau Chief for The New York Times, it’s very impressive to read his scathing indictment of the administration’s Iraq policy and conduct:

it’s not my job to rate the obama administrations actions in iraq. but i will tell you that after 2011 the administration basically ignored the country. and when officials spoke about what was happening there they were often ignorant of the reality. they did not want to see what was really happening because it conflicted with their narrative that they left iraq in reasonably good shape. In 2012 as violence was escalating i wrote a story, citing UN statistics, that showed how civilian deaths from attacks were rising. Tony Blinken, who was then Biden’s national security guy and a top iraq official, pushed back, even wrote a letter to the editor, saying that violence was near historic lows. that was not true. even after falluja fell to ISIS at the end of last year, the administration would push back on stories about maliki’s sectarian tendencies, saying they didn’t see it that way. so there was a concerted effort by the administration to not acknowledge the obvious until it became so apparent — with the fall of mosul — that iraq was collapsing.

Given the poor grammar, though . . . well, I don’t know. You decide. Maybe he was typing away on a small android keyboard. Or maybe that’s how Times’ writers really write before the editor gets hold of their stuff.

9/11 from outer space

Learn a little more about 9/11’s first hero and first fatality

Danny Lewin, an American-born Israeli, was a tech giant in Israel — and 9/11’s first hero and first fatality.

Why do Muslims rape women?

Short answer: Because Mohamed. The Prophet practiced what he preached, and his followers have done so too since Islam’s inception.

The War Against Women

The pressing issues at NOW (the National Organization for Women):

  • Having other people subsidize your sex life and abortions
  • Getting paid the same money as men, no matter that you’re not doing the same type of work
  • LGBTQ rights
  • Believe it or not, the Equal Rights Amendment lives as “constitutional equality.”
  • Protecting women of color who have even fewer rights than women without color
  • And violence against women, which includes a campaign to fire George Will

An issue that is not discussed at NOW:

Thousands of Iraqi women are being forced into sex slavery in brothels run by a ‘police force’ of British women jihadis, it has been reported.

As many as 3,000 women and girls have been taken captive from the Yazidi tribe in Iraq as Isis militants continue their reign of terror across the region.

Sources now say that British female jihadis operating a religious police force called the al-Khanssaa brigade, that punishes women for ‘un-Islamic’ behaviour, have set up brothels to for the use of Isis fighters.

ISIS goes full socialist

An ISIS supporter put up a Facebook post lauding ISIS’s incredible largess once it’s in power:

Ten Facts from the ‪#‎Islamic_State‬ that everyone should know.

1. We don’t pay rent here. Houses are given for free.
2. We pay neither electric nor water bills.
3. We are given monthly grocery supplies. Spagetti, pasta, can foods, rice, eggs and etc.
4. Monthly allowance are given not only to husband and wife (wives) but also for each child.
5. Medical check up and medication are free – The Islamic State pays on behalf of you.
6. You can still survive even if you don’t speak Arabic. You can find almost every race and nationality here.
7. For every newly married couples are given 700usd as a gift. (Only for Mujahid and I’m not sure if it’s still available now).
***
9. No one is conducting business during prayer time. You can see people left their shops opened and pray either in the masjid or near by their shops.
10. The number of mix-marriages and mixed-race children are so high. It’s beautiful to witness brotherhood with no racism.

From a muhajir sister,also spouse of a Mujahid brother at #Islamic_State
Diary Of A Muhajirah

People have noticed that these promises are pretty much in line with what every socialist state promises. Nevertheless, there’s one profound difference:  Socialist states are predicated on the notion that everyone works cheerily together for the public good, while in a caliphate, the producers and the consumers are two different groups.

In socialist nations, the difference between reality and rhetoric has within it the seeds of socialism’s downfall.  Despite the rhetoric, the reality is that people will only work for the public good, as opposed to their own good, at the point of a gun. Moreover, even with that gun pointing at them, the socialist workers inevitably produce less well as time goes by.  The result is that the free houses are poorly-built, overly-populated apartment blocks; the water and electric bills don’t exist because people have no running water or electricity; the food is poor quality and limited in quantity, and the medicine is primitive.  These realities inevitably kill the enthusiasm for socialism amongst everyone but the very small inner circle.

In the caliphate, as I said, things are different, very, very different. The consumers are one perpetual class, always enjoying luxury, while the producers are another perpetual class, always suffering servitude.  A case in point is the fact that, as you probably noticed, I left out Item No. 8 in the above list. That’s the one that talked about paying for this socialist Islamic paradise:

8. You don’t have to pay tax (If you’re a Muslim).

Coerced payment from the non-Muslims is always at the point of a gun or the tip of a sword.  And when one batch of non-Muslims, because they’re dead or worn out (think:  Qatar),  stops producing, the answer isn’t to convert your economy to a more capitalist one. After all, large segments of the population (the armed ones) are doing just fine with this Islamic socialist system.  Rather than changing the system, they just go out and conquer another nation.  A vigorous, blood-thirsty, rape-rich attack (think:  ISIS) usually brings into the caliphate’s fold a fresh batch of cowed producers to support the takers. As Islam’s rise showed, this system can work effectively for centuries before it finally hits a wall.

Is the media preparing to turn on Obama?

It’s becoming impossible for the base to ignore that Obama has failed to fulfill his promises. Obamacare didn’t socialize medicine; it propped up insurance companies. The economy has been a boon for cronies and no one else. And around the world, countries hate America, even as the anti-war president is poised to launch yet another war. What to do, what to do? It appears that one of the things the media’s doing, before it even gets around to explicit attacks, is some subliminal undermining — how else to explain Thomas Lifson’s discovery about the media’s changing visuals for Obama.  Remember, those whom the media Gods would destroy, they first dehumanize.

Will Obama learn his lessons?

When it comes to foreign policy, Obama has repeatedly been proven to be decisively wrong in both his reading and his handling of situations around the world. Daniel Henninger asks the right question: Will Obama realized that he’s been humbled?

My answer: No. His Leftist, insular, narcissistic, self-aggrandizing world-view leaves no room for humility, regret, or repentance.

Democrats may be getting snitty about Obama’s constitutional overrides

The Democrats were fine when Obama ignored the Constitution to re-write Obamacare so as to help them out in elections and spare cronies from its worst effects. They’re encouraging Obama to override the Constitution when it comes to immigration. But when it comes to starting yet another war, the same Democrats who were supine when he bombed Libya now complain that Obama needs to get Congressional permission this time around. Amazingly enough, the Republicans who were cowed, rather than supine, about Libya are also making noise about limitations on Obama’s war-time powers.

Turkey’s flying the coop (along with everyone else)

It doesn’t help Obama’s war presidency that the coalition of the willing in the fight against ISIS won’t include Turkey. That’s gotta hurt.

Turkey is not the only nation that casts a wary eye on Obama’s call-out to the world to help fight ISIS. A lot of non-Muslim (or, more accurately, not-yet-Muslim) nations have already announced that they’re going to be part of the coalition of the un-willing.

When it comes to Obama’s insistence that America won’t have to fight this war alone, Michael Ramirez hones in perfectly on the flaws in his argument.

Why should anyone pay attention to Barack Obama on ISIS?

Obama’s speech yesterday (which I hope to discuss more in a later post) is getting booed from all quarters. The peaceniks don’t like the war cries, and anybody of any intelligence doesn’t like the apologetics for Islam, the lunatic strategy of promising no boots on the ground (and we know how much Obama’s promises are worth), and the assurance that Middle Eastern and Muslim countries will rush to America’s aid, providing their troops to face down ISIS’s rampage.

Most importantly, there’s no reason to believe either Obama’s diagnosis or prescription regarding ISIS. As the Washington Free Beacon shows, when it comes to radical Islam, Obama has been wrong every time:

There are a few possible causes for a 100% failure rate when it comes to analyzing a political situation:  incredible stupidity, incredible denial, or incredible evil. Take your pick. It really doesn’t matter which reason you choose, because the results are the same regardless, and we’re still stuck with him for another 2.5 years.

DOJ covertly attempts to influence House IRS hearing

You’ve probably already heard about assistant to Eric Holder who dialed a wrong number and revealed to Rep. Darryl Issa’s office that the DOJ intended to use covert methods to come to the IRS’s aid in hearings before the House. If you haven’t heard, though, or if you want more details, the good news is that the story has broken out of conservative circles and hit the big time at The Hill, where you can read more about it.

For Ted Cruz, getting booed is a good thing

Ted Cruz continues to prove that he’s the smartest man in the room. When he went to a gathering of Middle Eastern Christians and was booed off the stage for defending America and Israel, the guys and gals exercising the thug veto probably thought that Cruz had lost that round. They would have done better to remember that as America finds itself staring down ISIS, many Americans aren’t feeling the love for the usual Middle Eastern rabble-rousers, whether Muslim or Christian. Moreover, many of them may be getting the sinking feeling that Israel is the canary in the coal mine and that America is next in line to be wrapped in Islam’s suffocating embrace.

Smart Ted, however, knew exactly how that booing would play, and he’s publishing his speech and the room’s response far and wide:

“Tonight, in Washington, should have been a night of unity as we came together for the inaugural event for a group that calls itself ‘In Defense of Christians.’ Instead, it unfortunately deteriorated into a shameful display of bigotry and hatred,” Cruz said in a statement provided to Breitbart News. “When I spoke in strong support of Israel and the Jewish people, who are being persecuted and murdered by the same vicious terrorists who are also slaughtering Christians, many Christians in the audience applauded. But, sadly, a vocal and angry minority of attendees at the conference tried to shout down my expression of solidarity with Israel.”

As America gears up for yet another war against radical Islamists, it’s useful to know who our real friends are. Score one for Ted!

Jeff Dunetz continues his efforts to call out anti-American, antisemitic radio hosts in New York

Jeff Dunetz (Yid With Lid), continues his annual effort to call out and get an apology from Mike Francesa and Chris Mad Dog Russo, the popular hosts of a New York sports radio show. Dunetz notes that the show was enjoyable in part because the two men disagreed with each other all the time, making for some interesting fire works. On September 12, 2001, though, the two were unanimous in blaming . . . Jews and America for the attack that killed almost 3,000 people, and demanding that American Jews be forced to take an oath of loyalty.

The Scientific method, as explained by Richard Feynman

One of the more delightful books I’ve read in the past many decades is Richard Feynman’s Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! (Adventures of a Curious Character). Feynman may have been one of the smartest guys on the planet, but he somehow managed to avoid becoming one of those geniuses so lost in his head that he was unintelligible. It’s a funny, fascinating, informative, very human book, and I recommend it highly.

I also recommend Feynman’s explanation about the scientific method. I especially recommend it to the climate “scientists” whose theories have been proven wrong at every turn. In real science, failure vitiates the theory. In climate “science,” failure reinforces the theory.

Pictures

Reversing terrorists' cost-benefit calculus

Jews survive and thrive

The Bookworm Beat — 9/2/2014 Truly Epic Illustrated Edition

I’m in a very visual state of mind today, so I thought I’d dedicate a post to the superb cartoons and posters people send my way.  Special thanks go to Caped Crusader, Sadie, Earl, and W “B” S for helping me compile this truly epic illustrated edition.

Cicero on foolish Romans

Eye on the ball

Truth in the equation

Problem is where he lives now

Benefits of crossing American border

New iPhone and food stamps

Jobs created under Obama

Gas prices when Obama took office

Fantasy Island

Obama's self-portrait

The real Ferguson tragedy

Coexist NOT

Driverless car

Checkout time

The Muslim war on women

Arguing with a Progressive

Reasons Obama wouldn't golf

Tobacco and pot

Pat Robertson - Progressive straw man

TSA and Ebola

If Netanyahu worked like Obama

The real terror tunnels

Political correctness versus killing

Grow flowers or grow weeds

Freedom is meaningless

Obama knows who's evil in the world

No WH guests at cop funerals

Socialized medicine the cornerstone of communism

Veterans trying to get illegal's benefits

The flow of goods between Israel and Hamas

Obama does what's necessary

True friends

America a model for the world

The tragedy of math

The Face of Radical Islam

Mike Rowe about hard and smart work

And a hat tip to the wonderful American Digest for these two:

Old Lady trash

Exhibit 1

Thursday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSorry for the long silence today. I had a standard-issue medical test done on me this morning and, while I passed with flying colors (I’m such an overachiever), the procedure knocked me off my pins and I’m only now getting back to something akin to normal.

I haven’t yet had the chance to read today’s news (which I think looks sort of like yesterday’s news, right down to yet another air tragedy), but I have a ginormous backlog of links I gathered yesterday that I’d still like to share. So, fasten your seat belts and . . . we’re off!

** 1 **

Just an observation about Israel’s efforts to rout Hamas in Gaza: Many, myself included, think that this is Israel’s moment in Gaza. The ones who are openly supporting her incursion are all Israelis (as opposed to merely some Israelis), most Americans, European heads of state, the EU (!), and citizens of good will the world over. Heck, even the notorious anti-Israel Washington Post has another editorial denouncing Hamas and insisting that it must be disarmed before Israel gives up the fight.

The ones who are tacitly supporting her incursion are heads of state all over the Arab world who, scared by both Iran and ISIS and, as in Egypt’s case, deeply hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, are keeping silent or even castigating Hamas. The only ones who are opposed to Israel having the chance, once and for all, to destroy one of the world’s most malignant terrorist organizations, are Barack Obama, John Kerry, and the hate-ridden Muslim and hard-Left rioters in European and American citizens.

** 2 **

At the end of my conversation with Sol Giggleweed, I added that, in a comparison between Hamas the Nazis, the Nazis are actually better than Hamas insofar as they revered their own women. My sister added another Nazi virtue that Hamas lacked: the Nazis did not use their own women and children as living, breathing defense systems.

Apropros this reverence for life, check out this Facebook post.

Indeed, even canine life comes in for care (in stark contrast to the Muslim world, which hates dogs and, at least in Pakistan, tortures them for fun):

Israelis care for dogs

 

** 3 **

Arabs, Muslims, and Leftists keep agitating for a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Rhymes with Right agrees in principle, but differs somewhat as to precisely which pre-1967 borders Israel should be returned.

** 4 **

I don’t understand why America’s multiculturalists aren’t more up in arms about ISIS’s blatant disrespect for Christian culture in Iraq. (And yes, I’m being very, very, very sarcastic there.)

** 5 **

Yet another article about the U.S. State Department’s absolutely disgraceful failure to bring over to the U.S. the Afghani interpreters who now sit in the Taliban’s cross hairs.

** 6 **

Yes, it’s true. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is planning to move to race-based grading: Teachers are required to add a separate (and impliedly lower) bell curve for grading for non-whites. You’d think things such as this would bring non-whites to the realization that the Left thinks they’re really stupid.

** 7 **

HBO no longer makes any pretense of hiding its hardcore DemProg credentials. Even its obscene, sex-obsessed vampires are DemProgs so, when they get the opportunity, they apparently used an imaginary Ted Cruz fundraising as the opportunity to engage in some foul-mouthed Republican and women bashing. Ted Cruz and his aide Amanda Carpenter, however, elegantly and easily show why mental midgets shouldn’t tangle with people infinitely smarter than they are.

** 8 **

You know what happens to a socialized manufacturing sector? Nothing. It doesn’t innovate, grow, or create wealth. Instead, as Venezuela has demonstrated for the umpteenth time, socialized manufacturing sectors collapse very badly. (Article is behind a Wall Street Journal pay wall.)

** 9 **

Should you be able to get behind that Wall Street Journal pay wall, you should also read Daniel Henninger’s scathing denunciation of a president who is just too bored, busy, and important to deal with the crises popping up all over the place. He’s not even trying to play crisis whack-a-mole. He’s just walking away and looking for the next fundraising party.

If you can’t get behind that pay wall, you can still read Mark Steyn on Obama’s vanishing act, played across the backdrop of the endless rewind and replay in the Middle East.

** 10 **

Britain is mad at Russia because of the fact that pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine, armed with cutting edge Russian weapons, shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Of the almost 300 people who died, many were British subjects. Britain is so mad, in fact, that it’s reviving the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a Putin critic who died very painfully in England from polonium poisoning.

** 11 **

One of my tawdry media indulgences is the Daily Mail, which is a combination of sleaze, trash, eccentric wonders, and actual cutting-edge news from all over the world. One of the things I’ve noticed lately in the Daily Mail is the number of young to middle-aged bankers who have been killing themselves or dying of mysterious circumstances. Zero Hedge has noticed too and obviously wondered whether it’s just a coincidence that we’re aware of because of world wide reporting or if something really weird is going on.

** 12 **

Planned Parenthood continues to teach Americans young women about sexual perversion. Says Ed Morrissey:

Planned Parenthood gets millions of dollars for sex education and other programs from the federal government, and the education they provide is exactly what those parents predicted. No 15-year-old needs instruction on how to let herself get handcuffed or tied to trees by her boyfriend as part of rational education about health and sex. If a 15-year-old even hinted that her boyfriend was pressing her to try these kinds of activities, that calls for an intervention, not a how-to for submission. The advice to watch pornos for further sex education threatens to distort the teen’s sexuality for a lifetime, from a healthy expression of love and pleasure in the context of marriage to decades of being someone else’s rag doll for exploitation.

This isn’t education. It’s indoctrination, and the cultivation of Planned Parenthood clients for the next 20 years. Planned Parenthood can continue to offer sex education, but it shouldn’t get tax dollars to do so.

** 13 **

Jonathan Turley, a Barack Obama voter and law professor, has made a name for himself of late by speaking out against the expanding administrative state. He sees the D.C. Circuit’s Halbig decision, which confines Obamacare subsidies to state-established exchanges per the laws explicit language, as a very important one and contrasts it favorably against the 4th Circuits King decision, which ignored the statute’s explicit, unambiguous language in favor of a “well, I think the legislature really wanted to do this” analysis:

At the heart of the conflict is a fundamentally different view of the role not just of federal courts but also of federal agencies. I have long been a critic of the rise of a type of fourth branch within our system. The Framers created a tripartite system based on three equal branches. The interrelation of the branches guarantees that no branch could govern alone and protects individual liberty by from the concentration of power in any one branch.

We now have a massive system of 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies with almost three million employees. Citizens today are ten times more likely to be the subject of an agency court ruling than a federal court ruling. The vast majority of “laws” in this country are actually regulations promulgated by agencies, which tend to be practically insulated and removed from most citizens.

** 14 **

The government is still doing a fancy dance around Obamacare. Separate from the fact that the administrative branch went all legislative and re-wrote the statute to suit the Democrats’ political purposes, the fact remains that the Exchange’s only measurable success is getting people onto the exchange. Everything else . . . well, not so good.

** 15 **

Hundreds of California taxpayers and professors are upset about the fact that San Francisco State University used taxpayer funds for terrorist outreach. I agree with their anger. I’m only sorry that we don’t live in a country that actually supports the rule of law. Since Hamas is a designated terrorist organization, in a law-abiding country, the federal government would have come down on SFSU and the errand faculty like a ton of federal bricks.

** 16 **

Back in the 1930s, the primary difference between Soviet Communism and German and Italian fascism was that the former nationalized businesses while the latter allowed them to exist (and profit), provided that they subordinated themselves to the government agenda. Jonah Goldberg, in talking about Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to subordinate American business to the federal government DemProg agenda, never mentions 1930s era fascism, but I couldn’t help noticing the structural similarities.

** 17 **

And while we’re speaking of that cozy relationship between business and DemProgs, here’s more on the federal government’s policy of privatizing corporate profits (if they make a profit overseas, they keep it) and socializing their losses (if they lose money, taxpayers suck up the loss).  You don’t need to look overseas, of course.  Obamacare is one big gift to the insurance industry.  That makes it something everyone can hate:  conservatives hate it because it brings health care under federal government control and socializes costs; Leftists hate it because these socialized costs are all funneled into the insurance company’s pockets.

** 18 **

There’s an old saying that, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. When it comes to the Obama White House and its efforts to hide all of its agents’ emails, mails, documents, texts, etc., there’s a new old saying:  Where there’s neither smoke nor fire, there’s a cover-up. The most recent one involves Shirley Sherrod.

** 19 **

Trey Gowdy continues to be IRS Commissioner Koskinen’s worst nightmare:

Gowdy must have been one hotshot trial lawyer.

** 20 **

Andrew Klavan takes a satirical look at one of the real security concerns flowing from the Obama-manufactured border (border? what border?) crisis:

** 21 **

Moral high ground

How Iron Dome works

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Taking cover in a war zone

Carpenter Ants

Ask what you can do for your mother

Everything you always wanted to know about the welfare state, but were afraid to ask

(Photo from Tom Gordon Palmer's Facebook page)

(Photo from Tom Gordon Palmer’s Facebook page)

I had the good fortune yesterday to attend a lunch at which Tom Gordon Palmer, a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute and an executive at the Atlas Network, was the guest speaker. In an entertaining, often amusing, and clear speech, Palmer introduced us to the realities of the welfare state.*

Palmer opened the “welfare state” portion of his talk by pointing out that, barring a few manifestly silly people, most people today don’t really believe in classic “socialism.” Instead, they support something equally pernicious: the welfare state. Indeed, the welfare state may be even worse than socialism because, by creating utterly dependent political constituencies in lands that are ostensibly democratic, it’s very difficult to correct or dismantle.

While the Romans may have had their bread and circuses, the modern welfare state started with Otto von Bismarck, who envisioned a world, not of bread and circuses, but of steel and blood. Bismarck was the original nationalist, imagining a people emotionally wedded to the state and financially dependent on it.

Palmer made clear that, from the beginning, the welfare state was not socialism.  Unlike socialism, Bismarck’s welfare state, which was the template for all future welfare states, did not disallow private property, which was needed to fund welfare, nor did it centrally control the economy, although it certainly meddled in the economy. The welfare state was essentially a form of bribery using social services, such as health, education, and welfare. The result could be summed up this way: “We, the state, gave you something you consider essential to your well-being. Now you owe us your political support and, if called upon, your military service.”

Bismarck’s opponents saw which way this would end. They feared (correctly) that the welfare state would result in “a nation of helots.” Instead of making people dependent on the state for social service handouts, the opponents wanted the state to fund individually-owned accounts, so that citizens would have an ownership interest in their well-being, as well as marketplace power to choose which services they wanted. The opponents lost.

This first welfare state became the template for Hitler’s fascist Nazi movement. Right until the end of the war, Hitler was an extremely popular leader because he kept giving the German people things. Indeed, in the beginning, the war, rather than causing Germans to get less from the state, actually enabled them to get more. We all know that Hitler confiscated everything that belonged to the Jews, including their teeth and hair, and handed all these things over to the German people as a right or entitlement flowing to them from the State, furthering their allegiance to the Nazi party.  What many don’t know is that Hitler’s troops also looted the treasures and treasuries of all occupied countries, sometimes through straightforward theft, and sometimes by devaluing the nation’s currency so that German troops were able to “purchase” goods for a fraction of their actual worth.

The Nazis were, to date, the most blood thirsty welfare state but, take away the whole bit about world domination and destroying “inferior” people, and you end up with a welfare state that pretty much looks like every other welfare state in the 21st century. According to Palmer, all welfare states share two common traits.

1. Welfare states use the PayGo or “Pay As You Go” method. On paper, PayGo sounds good: the government doesn’t run up a deficit to fund social welfare. Instead, it pays current expenses with current tax revenues. The government takes money from Taxpayer A and immediately hands it over to Welfare Recipient B. As long as there are more Taxpayers than Welfare Recipients, this system works. Problems start, however, when the balance shifts, so that there are more takers than givers.  This problem is inevitable because of a principle called “the tragedy of the commons.”

Imagine a pond with a finite number of slow-breeding fish. The sensible thing for the community is to set a quota on people’s fishing rights so as not to deplete the resource and to give it a chance to regenerate. The sensible thing for the individual, however, is to take advantage of whatever fish the pond has to offer, since he operates on the assumption that, if he doesn’t catch them, somebody else will. It’s this “if I don’t take it someone else will” mentality that permeates so much of the welfare state, with people lining up for handouts because they’re there — never mind that, with everybody lining up, takers will swiftly outnumber givers.  This is so because the takers will include large numbers of former givers who figured “why should I give when I can take?” and jumped in the welfare line.

As long as there are still givers, the system will limp on.  As their numbers decrease, the welfare state uses its coercive power to get more money out of them.  Eventually and inevitably, though, the golden goose is dead — the givers are broke and the nation’s wealth destroyed.  And when the system stops working, the last generation of givers, the ones who were promised that there was a “lock box” or “trust fund” into which their money would be waiting for them, get nothing back for their efforts.

If what I’ve described sounds familiar to you, it should: It’s a pyramid or Ponzi scheme. If someone does it in the business world, he goes to jail. If the entire United States government does it, the takers keep voting into power the political party that promises most sincerely to keep the Ponzi scheme afloat.

The other thing about a government Ponzi scheme that differs from a business Ponzi scheme is the temporal factor. A business Ponzi scheme quickly runs out of new investors.  A government scheme, however, reaches into the future, tagging unborn generations as mandatory contributors to an inherently corrupt economic plan.

2. Welfare states characterize the plan as one of “social rights.” Terminology matters. Privileges come and go, but rights are forever. Roosevelt knew this, which is why, in a 1944 speech, he announced a “second bill of rights” that perfectly encompasses all of the promises of the welfare state:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;

The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

Unlike the Founders, Roosevelt didn’t bother to convene a constitutional convention to make his new “bill of rights” official.  Instead, he relied on politician’s greed for votes to make it happen.  He knew that, if you give people things, they will vote for you.  The race was on for both parties to give voters the most things.  The only differences between the parties were the kind of things they would hand out and whether they wanted to pay for these things now or later.  The Democrats usually won this race, because they’d give everything and just put it on the government’s tab, to be paid at some indeterminate future date.

In addition to its permanence, there’s another advantage to a “right”:  It’s not charity, thereby bypassing opposition from people who might have moral objections to receiving charity. Of course, once the welfare system becomes entrenched, that moral generation quickly dies out.

What we’re see today in America is what happened in Greece, Italy, and Spain in the last few of years: The PayGO system is collapsing because the takers vastly outnumber the givers and, in any event, the givers have nothing left to give. Our current entitlement obligations — which are separate from government debt, because we’ve been stealing from the unborn, rather than borrowing from existing creditors — are somewhere in the range of at least $147 trillion.

Moreover, to the extent entitlements must be paid now using current revenues, entitlement spending is swamping government budgets across America. In California, for example, pension payments gobble up most of the state’s budget, leaving no money for other state expenditures, such as basic infrastructure maintenance or debt service.

What Palmer stressed is that, while the welfare state feels like socialism, because of the huge welfare transfer, it’s not socialism. We do not have a centrally managed economy or one without private ownership. What we have, instead, is a government playing a perverted Robin Hood game — it steals from those it decides are rich and gives to those whose votes it wants.

A perfect example of the speed with which the welfare state destroys the economy, said Palmer, is Italy. What few people know or remember is that Italy had a free market after WWII and, not coincidentally, had a huge economic boom, bigger even than Germany’s. That’s why the 1960s were the era of la dolce vita: Italians were young and their economy was vibrant. And that was the moment, in the 1960s, when do-gooders said, “We’re so rich, let’s spread the wealth.” Rather than setting up a true trust fund, or having people pay into their own lock box accounts, Italy set up a welfare state . . . and that was the beginning of the end.

One of the big downsides of the welfare state is that it always ends badly. True socialist economies actually can lateral over to a marketplace economy by having the government back off of economic management.  We’ve seen this in action in some former Soviet bloc countries, such as Latvia and Estonia. Dying welfare states, however, are corrupt from top to bottom, and are therefore more likely to end up as Nazi Germany. In Greece, for example, the public is being torn two ways, both equally evil:  Marxist and Neo-Nazi groups are growing fast.  The latter are every bit as violently antisemitic as the original Nazis were (never mind that there are almost no Jews in Greece).

The absence of Jews within their borders is not a problem for nascent Neo-Nazi movements in bankrupt welfare states.  Indeed, image conscious Neo-Nazis in places as diverse as Greece and Hungary try not to use the word “Jews” (unless they’re talking about the evil Zionist Jews in Israel, of course). Instead, they talk about “New York financial interests” or “dirty foreigners coming to get our social benefits.”

As to that last point, Palmer pointed out that the “dirty foreigners” are on the bottom of the Ponzi scheme pyramid, paying in more than they’ll ever get out. (And no, I don’t know whether he was referring to the Turkish, Algerian, and Moroccan workers all over Europe when he said this, or only to America’s self-imported immigrants from Mexico.)

Because welfare states always bankrupt themselves, default is inevitable. In America, this bankruptcy, which is roughly 20 years in the future, can take three forms: (1) default on the national debt, which is unlikely; (2) a change in the welfare formula (later retirement, death panels, etc.), which is more likely; and (3) inflation, which is most likely and completely disastrous, because it destroys a nation’s wealth, as well as destroying individual lives along the way.

And speaking of wealth, Palmer says that there are two alternatives to a crash. The first is self-help and wealth-creation, which is achieved through secure property rights; a reliable, relatively un-corrupt legal system; and free trade. As an example of this method in action, Palmer told us about Kakha Bendukidze, the man who saved the Republic of Georgia during his tenure as Minister of Economy, Minister for Reform Coordination, and Head of the Chancellery of Government of Georgia. My notes are scrambled about Bendukidze’s acts (they just say “wiped out most of the government”), so let me quote Wikipedia:

He is known as a committed libertarian and strong supporter of market economy, deregulation and privatization, stating that the Georgian government should sell everything except its honor. During 2004-2007, under his leadership, Georgia became the top-reforming country in the world, according to the World Bank’s Doing Business report. In particular, Georgia jumped from 137 to 11 on the ease of doing business scale, ahead of Germany and France.

Since the weakening of the democratic credentials of the Saakashvili government after the police crackdown of the 2007 protests, the government has put the stress on his successful economic reforms. Bendukidze was pivotal in the libertarian reforms launched under Saakashvili, including one of the least restrictive labour codes, the lowest flat income tax rates (12%) and some of the lowest customs rates worldwide, along with the drastic reduction of necessary licenses and permits for business.

In addition to his wildly successful economic reforms, Bendukidze cracked down on rampant corruption and brutality in Georgia’s police force. He did it by doing away with the police entirely, including their buildings, which were filled with windowless, blood-stained “interrogation” rooms. When people objected, he said “If you’re sitting in a dark room and you turn off the lights, does it get darker?” In other words, if the police are themselves a crime problem, getting rid of them probably won’t increase crime. Bendukidze then built up a whole new police force, housed in buildings with windows into every room.

The second alternative to default and collapse is mutual aid societies. America used to be filled with them, although the young generation probably has never heard of them. We oldsters knew them as the Elks, the Shriners, the Freemasons, etc. [Update:  I forgot to add that, the only real surviving mutual aid society in America, according to Palmer, is Alcoholics Anonymous.]  These societies had deep roots, going back to Roman burial societies. They were voluntary associations, complete with codes of conducts and secret rituals, that bound people tightly together. They transcended class. The local gentry would rub shoulders with the butcher and baker as they went through their Masonic or Shriner rituals.

The mutual aid societies had funds into which everyone paid (presumably on a sliding scale, giving their egalitarian membership). These funds would then be disbursed to members in need. Because small, social groups managed the funds, they kept track of the deserving poor versus the undeserving poor. The latter did not get access to these emergency funds. The societies also kept track of moral hazard issues: people were socially pressured to avoid dangerous behaviors that could deplete the funds.

Welfare states hate mutual aid societies because they are the antithesis of big government (whether in the form of socialism or the welfare state). In England, the Fabians, who wanted socialism without bloodshed, used sneaky legislation to destroy these societies.

In 1911, the Fabians got the government to enact the National Health Act. Before the act, a mutual aid society member might voluntarily pay a small amount of money every month into the communal pot.  In exchange, he and his family would get access to perhaps seven different doctors, kind of like an HMO.  The National Health Act mandated that all citizens pay a proportional tax to the government, in exchange for which they’d get access to their original seven doctors, plus perhaps five more. Rather than paying twice for the same benefit, Brits ended their voluntary associations and paid only the coerced tax. (Does this sound familiar to you?) Once all of the voluntary associations were gone, Britain went to the next step, which was to socialize medicine. (I swear that this sounds familiar to me, and I’m talking about recent history, not events overseas in the 20th century.)

At this point in Palmer’s talk, I ran out of paper and began to write in microscopic script that I can no longer read. I can tell you, though, that it is possible to back away from the precipice towards which we’re speeding. As an example, Palmer pointed to Canada which had, as he said, an “adult discussion” about the coming economic collapse. Intelligent, numerate politicians from the center left and center right identified the problems, talked about solutions, and cut Canada’s indebtedness by 50%.

Palmer repeatedly stressed the necessity of having a bipartisan discussion. If Republicans get hold of government, their reforms will be as suspect to 50% of Americans as the Democrats’ “reforms” were. Moreover, as the Bush presidency showed, Republicans with the bit in their teeth spend almost as much as Democrats do, although they use the money to woo different constituencies.  Only divided government slows government spending. The bipartisan aspect of any discussion about avoiding default is the equivalent, I think, along the lines of the fact that it takes two thieves to strike an honest bargain.

(Let me just add here that, when it comes to Republican spending, Palmer expressed his distaste for neocons who, he believes, substitute nationalism for socialism, with equally bad social and economic results. He cited David Brooks as an example, since David Brooks wants to spend lots of money on all sorts of Big Government things that aggrandize America. I agree that Brooks is wrong, but I don’t see him as a neocon. He’s simply a leftie who likes America.)

The problem today with that bipartisan strategy, says Palmer, is the lack of numerate adults in politics, especially among the Democrats.  There were numerate Democrats in the Clinton administration, but Obama’s administration is composed completely of ideologues who are uninterested in facts.

Finally, I see scrawled in my notes the word Putin. Putin, says Palmer, is a pure National Socialist. Those who know him say he’s also a stone-cold killer, who will, without blinking, kill people who stand in the way of his political vision (while ignoring those who don’t). Like Hitler, he uses social welfare to buy people. Like Hitler, he has dreams of vast geographic expansion, with occupied states funding his social welfare. And like Hitler, he’s found a scapegoat which, in Putin’s case, is homosexuals. Putin’s war against homosexuals ratchets up daily, to the point at which it’s somewhere around 1935 for homosexuals unlucky enough to be in Putin’s Russia.

_________________________________
*I’m basing this post on my scribbled notes, so I apologize in advance if I’ve erred here. I’m sending a copy of this post to Tom Gordon Palmer, so that he can correct me if I put the wrong words in his mouth or, worse, mangled his ideas.