Kudos to JK Brown for finding this Milton Friedman lecture in which he discusses the way in which the welfare state affects immigration. Europe might want to watch this video. The immigration discussion starts at about nine and a half minutes into the lecture:
I had so much fun the last time I deconstructed the analytically and factually foolish posters I found on the Facebook pages of my many, many Leftist friends, that I thought I’d do it again. As before, my commentary is below each poster:
I’ll Yid with Lid the floor on this one. He describes how he tried to feel true compassion for Carter when the former President announced his cancer. Unfortunately, Carter sank to his usual depths:
I pretty much decided I would keep silent. Especially when he started his press conference on Friday revealing that the horrible disease had spread to his brain. Well—that was until a reporter asked him what he would like to see happen before he died, and when he answered the former president slandered the Jewish State (see video below):
In international affairs I would say peace for Israel and its neighbors. That has been a top priority for my foreign policy projects for the last 30 years. Right now I think the prospects of are more dismal than anytime I remember in the last 50 years. Practically, whole process is practically dormant. The government of Israel has no desire for two-state solution, which is policy of all the other nations in the world. And the United States has practically no influence compared to past years in either Israel or Palestine. So I feel very discouraged about it but that would be my number one foreign policy hope.
Perhaps it’s all the Times he met with Hamas, ignoring their terrorism and declaring they want peace that has clouded Mr. Carter’s memory. But the Author of a book with a title calling the Jewish State an apartheid nation forgets history. The truth is that the last Israeli Premier who did not support a two state solution was Yitchak Rabin. Every prime minister since Peres, Netanyahu, Sharon, Barak, Comb-over...er Olmert, every single one of them declared their goal was a two state solution. Heck under Barack and Olmert, the Palestinians were offered deals which gave them 98% of what they wanted and each time they said no. On the other hand even years after Rabin shook the hands of the terrorist Arafat the Palestinians refuse to recognize the sovereign Jewish State of Israel.
So why would Jimmy Carter take the time to slander the Jewish State at the same time he was announcing the graveness of his illness. That’s easy, Carter hates Jews. (Emphasis in original.)
Read more about the utterly despicable Carter here. I don’t hope for him an agonizing death or anything like that. But honestly compels me to say that I will be delighted when he is no longer around to slander the only liberal democracy in the Middle East.
The fact is that antisemitism is a pretty damn good test of a person’s moral decency — antisemites have none, and Carter is not an honorable, decent man. He is, instead, a national embarrassment who didn’t have the decency to retire following his utterly ignominious presidency, one plagued by failure, both at home and abroad. The only thing that saves him from being the worst president ever is Obama’s presidency. Carter managed to survive long enough to be succeeded by a man even more of an antisemite and failure than Carter himself. What a sad record for American politics.
I love the moral equivalency here: Bush and Cheney’s campaign deleted lots of emails, so Hillary didn’t do anything that wrong!
In fact, the RNC did delete a whole bunch of emails in 2007, and they did so in violation of the Hatch act, but the equivalency ends there. The Bush emails were purely political in nature (hyperlinks and footnotes omitted):
The Bush White House email controversy surfaced in 2007 during the controversy involving the dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys. Congressional requests for administration documents while investigating the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys required the Bush administration to reveal that not all internal White House emails were available, because they were sent via a non-government domain hosted on an email server not controlled by the federal government. Conducting governmental business in this manner is a possible violation of the Presidential Records Act of 1978, and the Hatch Act. Over 5 million emails may have been lost or deleted. Greg Palast claims to have come up with 500 of the Karl Rove lost emails, leading to damaging allegations. In 2009, it was announced that as many as 22 million emails may have been deleted.
The administration officials had been using a private Internet domain, called gwb43.com, owned by and hosted on an email server run by the Republican National Committee, for various communications of unknown content or purpose. The domain name is an acronym standing for “George W. Bush, 43rd” President of the United States. The server came public when it was discovered that J. Scott Jennings, the White House’s deputy director of political affairs, was using a gwb43.com email address to discuss the firing of the U.S. attorney for Arkansas. Communications by federal employees were also found on georgewbush.com (registered to “Bush-Cheney ’04, Inc.”) and rnchq.org (registered to “Republican National Committee”), but, unlike these two servers, gwb43.com has no Web server connected to it — it is used only for email.
The “gwb43.com” domain name was publicized by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), who sent a letter to Oversight and Government Reform Committee committee chairman Henry A. Waxman requesting an investigation. Waxman sent a formal warning to the RNC, advising them to retain copies of all emails sent by White House employees. According to Waxman, “in some instances, White House officials were using nongovernmental accounts specifically to avoid creating a record of the communications.” The Republican National Committee claims to have erased the emails, supposedly making them unavailable for Congressional investigators.
On April 12, 2007, White House spokesman Scott Stanzel stated that White House staffers were told to use RNC accounts to “err on the side of avoiding violations of the Hatch Act, but they should also retain that information so it can be reviewed for the Presidential Records Act,” and that “some employees … have communicated about official business on those political email accounts.” Stanzel also said that even though RNC policy since 2004 has been to retain all emails of White House staff with RNC accounts, the staffers had the ability to delete the email themselves.
I am not defending the fact that the Bush White House tried to avoid creating records. It’s sleazy and the kind of thing one would expect from political operatives. But come on, Progressive folks! There is no indication whatsoever that what the White House did exposed America’s highest national security secrets to any Hacker who came along. Nor is there any evidence that the Bush White House spoliated documents — which is what seems to have happened with Hillary and the State Department, which deliberate destroyed Benghazi records after Congress had called for their production.
Also, by 2007, when the Bush matter emerged, he was in the lame duck phase of his presidency. There just wasn’t that much political hay to be made of it, so it vanished. This time, however, we have a perennial presidential candidate who has been in the limelight for more than twenty-years and who, in that time, is consistently caught engaged in underhanded behavior. Even if the behavior were morally equivalent (which I do not believe), the political implications are going to be different when the issues arise before a candidacy or at the end of an era.
But again, let me say the really important words that make what Hillary did so heinous: NATIONAL SECURITY and SPOLIATION. Bad Hillary! Bad girl!
I adore my dog and my dog, being part chihuahua, adores me with reciprocal ferocity. I would never confuse myself though into believing that my dog is a moral creature. Perhaps I’m disgustingly anthropocentric, but I believe morality reflects conscious decisions, not instinct. That a cat would rescue her kittens is a wonderful instinctive act completely consistent with Nature’s imperative for the continuation of a species. But that cat did not sit there thinking about the value of her life, versus her kittens’ lives. She just did what she needed.
Years ago, when my son was very little and announced that lions were bad because they hunted down zebras and gazelles, I said they weren’t. “Bad” and “good” imply an ability to make choices about good and bad. When a lion kills, it does so because it is programmed to do so. Moral analysis is not involved. My son, bless his heart, understood. I sure wish the rabid anti-Christians out there had the intelligence of a bright three-year old.
I have one question: Why is it obscene? I understand that we want our judicial system to be from the government, because only the collective will and values of the people should be brought to bear in a criminal case — especially since the government, unlike a private corporation, is theoretically constrained by the Constitution when it comes to criminal process, up to and including sentencing. But considering government’s gross inefficiencies, it would seem to me that (in theory at least) prisoners could fare just as well in a privately run jail, subject to government oversight and competing market forces, as they could in a government-run jail that answers only to itself, no matter how disgracefully managed it is.
What am I missing?
There three things I find funny here. First, Buffet imputes his selfishness to all, as well as confusing charity (which is an altruistic act) with investment (which is a theoretically selfish act that nevertheless yields benefit by pumping money and innovation into the market). Second, Buffet, all historic evidence to the contrary, thinks that government will do a better job of creating wealth than private capitalism. And third, Buffet hangs on to his money with a vengeance. I think I’ll be waiting a long time if I expect Buffet to turn his fortune over to the government for the benefit of the people.
Anyone see the logical fallacy here? Rock doesn’t define the racists. Ordinary people, the one’s who haven’t been brainwashed by our university systems, understand that racism, rather than being endemic in American culture, is almost nonexistent. Our laws are color-blind and the American people will rarely be caught in acts of overt racism — unless you go trolling through the internet’s underbelly for the few KKK wackos, who lack political power or popular support.
In the absence of real racism, the racial justice hustlers are left with “microagressions” that any sentient being understands are faked in order to browbeat and blackmail (hah! racist pun!) ordinary people. So, no, we don’t have to stop being “racist.” We have to stop the race hustlers from lying about what and who we are so that ordinary Americans of all colors can get down to the business of living their lives without government intervention and hustler shakedowns.
As I discuss at greater length below, the problem with American blacks is almost certainly not too little government, but way, way too much. (I’ve also expanded on this thought in a number of prior posts, such as this one.)
Bernie’s good at point out problems. He’s right that it’s a disgrace that so many blacks end up in jail. Of course, his solution is “Thank you, government. May I have another dose of toxic condescension” disguised as genuine welfare. There’s a huge difference between a decent society’s obligation to care for its “widows and orphans” and a racist society’s efforts to keep blacks in perpetual servitude by convincing them that they are incapable of standing and accomplishing things on their own.” Lyndon B. Johnson sure understood how welfare works, and it’s not for the black’s well-being that’s for sure:
Keeping people dependent on the government never lets them develop beyond the infant stage. Depriving them of the right to bear arms keeps them at the mercy of criminals. And constantly telling them that, without the government, they are helpless victims would, if the government were a parent and the blacks a child, be parental abuse that everyone would recognize and decry.
As always, you give the Left a little knowledge and it runs riot in ignorance. While the Founders were adamant that the Federal government not replicate the British government by having a state religion and controlling how citizens worship, the Founders — including the merely “deist/theist” Jefferson — strongly believed that the nation could thrive only on a foundation of Judeo-Christian morality:
“I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ.” — Thomas Jefferson
“While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion. To the distinguished character of Patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian.” — George Washington
“Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” — John Adams
Unsurprisingly, James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, expressed most clearly the Founders’ belief (no matter their personal relationship to God) that, while the federal government could not be a religious institution, only a Godly people could handle the freedom their new nation gave them (emphasis mine):
Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, “that religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence.” The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right. It is unalienable, because the opinions of men, depending only on the evidence contemplated by their own minds cannot follow the dictates of other men: It is unalienable also, because what is here a right towards men, is a duty towards the Creator. It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society. Before any man can be considered as a member of Civil Society, he must be considered as a subject of the Governour of the Universe: And if a member of Civil Society, do it with a saving of his allegiance to the Universal Sovereign. We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance. True it is, that no other rule exists, by which any question which may divide a Society, can be ultimately determined, but the will of the majority; but it is also true that the majority may trespass on the rights of the minority.
Oh, and about that quotation attributed to Adams with regarding to the U.S. not being a Christian nation, the giveaway is that it was a part of the Treaty of Tripoli. Anyone halfway conversant with that treaty (i.e., no Progressives) knows that this was a treaty signed with the Muslim pirates that the Marines defeated the “shores of Tripoli.” The language was not a disavowal of Christianity but, instead, a reminder that America allowed all people to practice their religion freely, without state intervention (hyperlinks and footnotes omitted):
Article 11 reads:
Art. 11. As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen [Muslims]; and as the said States never entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mahometan [Muslim] nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.
According to Frank Lambert, Professor of History at Purdue University, the assurances in Article 11 were “intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.” Lambert writes,
“By their actions, the Founding Fathers made clear that their primary concern was religious freedom, not the advancement of a state religion. Individuals, not the government, would define religious faith and practice in the United States. Thus the Founders ensured that in no official sense would America be a Christian Republic. Ten years after the Constitutional Convention ended its work, the country assured the world that the United States was a secular state, and that its negotiations would adhere to the rule of law, not the dictates of the Christian faith. The assurances were contained in the Treaty of Tripoli of 1797 and were intended to allay the fears of the Muslim state by insisting that religion would not govern how the treaty was interpreted and enforced. John Adams and the Senate made clear that the pact was between two sovereign states, not between two religious powers.”
The treaty was printed in the Philadelphia Gazette and two New York papers, with only scant public dissent, most notably from William Cobbett.
I see this everywhere, and it’s a complete canard, one that could be advanced only by people who don’t know that Michele Bachmann has an LL.M. from William and Mary University. I was going to add, as a prop to W&M, that it was Thomas Jefferson’s alma mater, but now that he’s been intellectually discredited on account of his owning slaves when doing so was still the norm, I guess that doesn’t help Bachmann. But back to that stupid quotation:
Several readers asked us to look into whether Bachmann actually made the comments. We obliged and found no evidence backing the claim. We also reached out to Bachmann’s spokesperson, who said the former member of Congress never made the remarks.
We also searched three comprehensive databases — Nexis and CQ, which aggregate transcripts, and Critical Mention, which records video and closed captioning — and found no record of Bachmann ever making those comments.
To our knowledge, she hasn’t appeared on Fox News since Trump announced his candidacy. She has commented on and praised Trump in several interviews on different networks, though she has never mentioned his wall proposal.
We found no evidence that Bachmann ever said this, and her spokeswoman said she did not, in fact, say it. The meme seems to have satirical origins but is now being passed off as fact. We rate the statement Pants on Fire!
Here’s the really interesting thing about Hitler’s win: He never got more than 30% of the popular vote. What Bernie doesn’t get is that the real problem with Hitler was his fascism — which is a form of socialism that, rather than nationalizing industry, merely co-opts it. (I call this crony fascism, and it’s precisely what the Democrats under Obama have been doing for the last seven years.) The reality is that, once a leader and his party gain total control over all facets of government and the economy — which is precisely what Bernie wants to do — you have a recipe for tyranny and war.
Every time I find these posters, and then track down the facts or expose the logical fallacies, I am reminded again that, while I like my Progressive friends because they are, in day-to-day life kind and enjoyable people, when it comes to politics they are monomaniacs, and are precisely as crazy as the nice old lady down the street who lives an exemplary life and then, when she dies, is discovered to have believed that her home was Martian headquarters and that, in order to continue to placate them, her home must be left to her cars, whom the Martians worship.
Monomaniacs can be great people so long as you don’t find yourself dealing with their particular brand of insanity.
A mish-mash of things from the wonderful Caped Crusader, from Earl, and from my own Facebook feed. The first one explains a lot about the bond between Leftists and Islamists, despite the fact that the former ought to hate the latter because of little things like religion, sexual constraints, etc., while the latter definitely hate the former because of little things like lack of religion, sexual freedom, etc.
One of the things I’ve tried to drill into my children is the truism that the single biggest indicator of poverty is single motherhood. That data, incidentally, does not reflect the old-fashioned kind of single motherhood, which was the result of widowhood or abandonment. Instead, we’re talking about modern single motherhood, the kind that sees women who are deluged with birth control choices nevertheless get pregnant with boyfriends or hook-ups who feel no emotional connection or sense of economic obligation to either mother or baby.
One of my children has a part-time job at a cafe and is, for the first time, meeting adults who have full-time jobs but who aren’t middle-class professionals living in single family homes in solidly upper middle class neighborhoods. One of these adults is pregnant and is unhappy about the fact that the cafe, where she’s been working for only five months, will not give her maternity leave.
Inquiry revealed that the pregnant woman is not married; that she’s living with a boyfriend who may or may not be the father of her child (my kid doesn’t know), and that the boyfriend doesn’t work. Except for getting regular nooky at night (assuming that the pregnant woman still wants that kind of attention), the mother-to-be will be, for all practical purposes, a single mother.
My child found it concerning that the boss won’t pay this single mother not to work for him. My child was therefore stymied when I asked this question: “Why should he pay for her foolish choices?”
I noted that, while it’s entirely possible that this woman was using enough birth control to protect six woman, and nevertheless still managed to get pregnant, the greater likelihood was that she was careless. Indeed, if she really wanted to protect against single motherhood, she could have abstained from sex until she had a ring on her finger and some economic prospects.
I threw in the fact that it’s incredibly costly to do business in California, especially in the food service industry, which have extremely low profit margins. Employers generally are drowning in regulations, which makes businesses very expensive to run. Add in taxes and all the other costs of business (rent, insurance, salaries, benefits, supplies, etc.), and it’s guaranteed that the employer is clearing just enough money for his personal expenses (mortgage, insurance, food, etc.). This owner is almost certainly not living extravagantly but is, instead, living a very temperate life.
Much of the money that the federal and state government are taking away from this man, both from his business and from him personally, is going to welfare programs for single mothers, something this employer must know. Since he’s already paying for the welfare this young woman will inevitably end up using, why should he pay twice by carrying her on the books even though she’s contributing nothing to his business? Even if he was feeling charitable, the government has left him nothing with which to be charitable, not to mention the fact that the government, by snatching money from his pockets, has already decided on his behalf which charities he should support — including economically foolish single motherhood.
Such a simple question: “Why should he pay for her foolish choices, when the government is already taxing him heavily in advance to pay for all the foolish choices of intentionally single mothers across America”?
One of the mantras to emerge from feminist side of the Leftist swamps during the late 1960s/early 1970s was notion that “the personal is political.” As used by the feminists, it meant that, when suburban women got together to burn their bras, examine their genitals in mirrors, and gripe about patriarchal oppression, they weren’t just engaging in the updated version of coffee klatches. Instead, this “consciousness raising” was a political act because the conclusions they reached would drive their politics.
As is so often the case when it comes to manipulating the political process, the Leftists were onto something. No matter what they say, most people don’t approach issues through education and analysis, nor do they abandon ideas just because those ideas actually fail when they finally leave the analysis phase and become operational. Instead, most people are driven by emotion: Do I feel like a good person when I do this? Is the beneficiary of my political act a good person? And the contrary is true too: Am I punishing an “evil” person if I vote or act in a specific way (since punishing an “evil” person elevates my “goodness” quotient).
I’m not saying anything all of you haven’t already figured out. The only reason I mention this is because I’m struggling with the way in which I can counter a compelling, hard Left HBO documentary that my daughter saw, one that has left her inclined to believe that the welfare state is the answer. The documentary is “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert.”
Maria Shriver, who produced the documentary, chose well when she and her team selected Gilbert as the poster child for single mothers, since Gilbert is a very sympathetic woman. She got married at 19 (no out-of-wedlock children here) and had three children with her husband. Unfortunately, her husband was addicted to prescription drugs (no tawdry illegal meth addiction here), wrecking the family finances and destroying their marriage. The show picks up with Gilbert now in her mid-20s, working hard for $9.49 an hour at an assisted living center for the elderly. She’s able to do this work because her children attend a government-funded pre-K daycare center in their hometown of Chattanooga. Further, this loving mother puts food on the table only thanks to the food stamps.
As Alfred Doolittle would have said, Gilbert is definitely among the deserving poor. When you see Gilbert — who did the right thing when she married her children’s father — struggling to cope with sick children and a flooded house (her boyfriend’s house), you can’t help but feel sympathetic. You want to help her. You want her to earn more money considering how hard she works and you want her to have better childcare opportunities. And you think to yourself, “Heck, if she lived in Denmark, none of this would be a problem. (In part, of course, because Denmark’s young people aren’t having children to begin with.) Gilbert would get free child care, a high living wage, all the benefits in the world, and be able to take endless sick days for her kids, as well as for herself.”
When the documentary ends, by which time you’re firmly rooting for Gilbert, the film hits you with the real numbers. Gilbert, we’re told, isn’t an anomaly. She’s part of a crowd: According to the documentary, Gilbert is the living embodiment of the 42 million women in America who live at or below the poverty line, along with (I believe) 28 million children. The documentary doesn’t have to say what we need to do. It’s quite obvious that we ought to raise the minimum wage, make free childcare available to all American children, and provide comprehensive welfare for food and housing.
In case you’re too dim to reach this conclusion by yourself, HBO helpfully provides a guide for you to read alone or discuss with a group. Some of what you’re supposed to discuss involves smart choices women can make. Other discussion ideas, though, encourage Big Government as a solution, and advance a highly partisan Progressive agenda:
The Chambliss Center [pre-K childcare] is very important for Katrina. When she picks up her children she says, “The kids are learning so much here. If I went to a normal day care center, it would cost me $300 per week for all three of my children …that’s a whole paycheck.” Child care expenses for families with working mothers can range from 20 to nearly 50% of the mother’s monthly salary. How do you think Katrina would function if her kids weren’t at the Chambliss Center? Do you know anyone who is struggling with childcare needs? What can we as a society do to help? How important is it that the Chambliss Center operates 24/7?
Numerous studies have shown the long-term benefits of high-quality early education for young learners. However, fewer than 30% of American 4-year olds attend high quality preschool programs. President Obama expressed his support for universal high-quality preschool and many states have been developing universal pre-K legislation and programs. What do you think are some of the advantages and disadvantages to government sponsored universal pre-Kindergarten programs?
What did you know before about federal programs like Head Start, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit? Has this changed after viewing the film?
What are the social services in your area for families in need of financial assistance? Do you think it’s not enough, or too much? How are they affected by budget decisions at the State and Federal level? Do you think people are aware of what government programs provide? How do you think people feel about receiving assistance? Can you think of other programs that could be helpful to women on the brink?
The study guide ends with a list of resources, the second of which is the hard Left Center for American Progress, which some describe as the “shadow Democrat party,” and which sets the agenda for many of the Obama administration initiatives. People troubled by the hardships Gilbert faces will quickly learn that Big Government is the only thing that can save her.
After my daughter saw the show, she was pretty sure that we ought to have more free education for the pre-K crowd, more free daycare, more free food, and mandated higher wages. She was certainly correct that each of these things would have been an immediate benefit to Gilbert. My task was to get my daughter to see that these are all band-aid remedies that might staunch small individual wounds, but will not stop the fatal hemorrhaging in the American economy.
The problem I had is that there’s nothing sexy about free market fixes. They’re abstract and the benefits fall randomly, rather than on specific, targeted people, such as Gilbert. It’s this last fact that means that market reforms cannot guarantee immediate — or, indeed, any — aid to sympathetic figures such as Gilbert.
People who watch the documentary want Gilbert to be fixed immediately and her personal life becomes an overarching political argument. When I said that single motherhood is the biggest dividing line between rich and poor, my daughter pointed out that Gilbert had her children within a marriage. When I said mothers should stay married if at all possible, she pointed out that Gilbert’s husband was a drug addict who destroyed finances, so staying together was not an option. When I said that education is important, she noted that Gilbert was trying to go back to school, but could do so only with government help.
My prescriptions were a free market (as opposed to the over-regulated market we now have), which has proven repeatedly to provide increased economic opportunities for everyone, not just government cronies; education, marriage, and children, in that order; and sticking with a bad marriage, provided that it’s not violent or otherwise abusive, because that is the best way to avoid poverty for both women and children. My daughter’s prescriptions after getting a close-up look at Gilbert’s sympathetic struggles were Big Government.
I didn’t increase my sympathy quotient when I explained to her that there will always be poor people, no matter the system. (In North Korea, outside of government circles, everyone is poor.) In a strong, free-market, capitalist system, fewer people will be poor and even poor people will do better than in non-capitalist countries. For example, I said, while Gilbert is struggling by American standards, the reality is that she shares a big house with her boyfriend, complete with a modern kitchen and nice electronics; she has government-subsidized food; she owns a car; and she has a smart phone, as do all the other adults in her low-income world. It’s almost ludicrous to call her experience “poverty” when one looks at poverty in Brazil or India or Cuba or North Korea or large swathes of Africa. Yes, she’s struggling, but life is struggle.
It would be lovely to give an economic band-aid to the hardworking Gilbert. But when the Democrats demand 42 million band-aids for all the other single mothers, you’ve got a problem. If the body politic or body economic really were a body, this would be the scenario: The American body (we’ll call it Sam) gets entangled in economic brambles, and poor Sam ends up bleeding from millions of scratches on his arms and legs. He looks at the scratches and thinks, “Yikes, I need some band-aids.” Fortunately for him, a mobile blood bank rolls by and offers to buy almost all of his blood in exchange for 42 million single-use band-aids.
Sam is delighted with this offer. He’ll be able to stop the blood flow, even though he’s probably giving to the bank almost as much blood as he’s losing to the cuts. What Sam ignores is that, when the bandages are applied and the mobile blood bank rolls away, he’ll still be stuck in those brambles.
Economic reality says that, if you’re mired in brambles, you don’t sell all your blood for band-aids, while remaining deep in the thorns. Instead, you first get out of the brambles. Only then do you deal with the worst cuts, ignore the rest, and get down to the business of regaining your health and staying away the brambles that got you into trouble in the first place.
None of the above is sexy. Advocating a free market capitalist economy so that there will be fewer poor people is not sexy. Encouraging marriage, even unhappy marriages, for the sake of the children is not sexy. Acknowledging that there will always be poor people and they will always suffer is not sexy. And trying to explain that, in a healthy economy, fewer people are poor and fewer people remain poor isn’t sexy. Appearing to turn your back on the Gilbert’s of the world isn’t only un-sexy, it appears downright sadistic. And explaining that economic reality means that it’s impossible to be, simultaneously, both a comprehensive welfare state and a thriving free market is un-sexy too. (Not to mention the fact that you have to explain that Europe managed to have a welfare state with a capitalist gloss only because America paid for Europe’s defense during the long Cold War years.)
I’ve described one show and one child who was moved Left by its message. However, this close, personal focus is a chronic issue when dealing with the Left. To gain sympathy for its larger agenda, the Left always focuses on the one child who’s illegal immigrant father is deported (although never the one child whose redneck father goes to jail following drunken revelry); or the one single mother who did all the right things; or the one single Gitmo detainee who was a mere child when the Taliban forced him to kill Americans. The focus is always tight, obscuring the rest of the message.
I mentioned the other day that Ben Shapiro has written an excellent book about arguing with Leftists, How to Debate Leftists and Destroy Them, which you can get free by registering at Truth Revolt. The book presupposes an argument. My question is how does one challenge this type of gooey, emotional propaganda, which gains a wide television audience and promises that the world can be healed, one government band-aid at a time?
At a certain level, all of us are solipsistic, in that we inevitably exist at the enter of our own universe. As it is with individuals, so it is with belief systems. Whether we like it or not, we assume that our way is the way to do things. That others would do things a different way is invariably a surprise (although, as is the case with Dutch chocolate, often a pleasant surprise).
One of the things that distinguishes the mature mind from the immature mind is the ability to recognize that your way isn’t always the right way. Sometimes the other person’s (or nation’s) way is fine, even if it seems inadequate.
(As a side note, I’m not discussing moral absolutes here. I think we’re entitled to be solipsistic about certain moral absolutes, such as “cold-blooded murder is wrong,” cold-blooded stealing is wrong,” “child-beating is wrong.” Even there, though, we do make distinctions. Cold-blooded murder is wrong, but we are open to extenuating circumstances. Cold-blooded stealing is wrong, but it’s probably okay if you’re starving and steal food. Child-beating is always wrong, of course, except that some describe “beating” as a slap on the butt with a hand, while others describe it as using a child’s head as a battering ram against a wall. All decent people oppose the second; many decent people, myself included, do not consider that the first constitutes a “beating.”)
Outside of moral absolutes (or moral somewhat absolutes), what remains are behaviors and beliefs. It’s here that we all fall prey to believing our way is best. Where conservatives and Progressives differ, though, is that, while conservatives believe their choices are best, they do not believe that it is up to government to impose those choices on others. They prefer persuasion to coercion. Progressives, however, are sufficiently self-righteous (or emotionally immature) that they believe that they must impose their ways upon others.
What got me thinking about this was a discussion I had with my sister about a couple of homeless men she and her husband have befriended (don’t ask). Both men are enthusiastically homeless. They get government checks, but are incapable of — and, more importantly, hostile to — embracing a middle class lifestyle.
The two men live near a city in a somewhat rural area. They can bike to amenities, but live in a homeless encampment in the woods (which means they offer minimal inconvenience to the bulk of the city’s residents). One of them built a teeny, portable wooden structure in which he lives, and powers the TV, the lights, the radio, and the electric cook stove with solar panels. The other dwells in a tent and mooches happily off friends. They get water from a nearby water pipe that the city makes available to the encampment. They get free food from various charities, and spend their government checks on food and drugs.
From my middle class, suburban perch, they live a terrible life. From their point of view, though, they’re free men who have all their needs met: shelter, food, chemical stimulants. They don’t want anything more. Both are a little loopy (one has a mildly aggressive paranoia, while the other believes he communes with alien beings), but neither is rendered dysfunctional by those “quirks.” They are free to be themselves. They don’t miss hot showers, and La-Z-Boys, and cars, and the internet, and X-Boxes, and all of the other things with which we fill our lives. Nor do they miss health insurance, which means that they’re in sync with previously uninsured Oregonians who got Medicaid. When they’re sick, that’s what the ER is for. They like that status quo and, despite living in a state that’s embraced government medicine, they refuse to join up.
I thought of these two men when James Taranto pointed out a Fox-Butterfield moment in the San Francisco Comical:
Fox Butterfield, Is That You?
“San Francisco spends $165 million a year on services for homeless people, but all that money hasn’t made a dent in the homeless population in at least nine years.”–Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, March 12
San Francisco has long spent exorbitant sums on the homeless because the Progressive government believes that it can bribe, cajole or co-opt the homeless into adopting a middle class lifestyle. The experience of 30 years of failure has only convinced the Progressives that they need to spend more. They cannot comprehend that, while there are people amongst the homeless population who are genuinely down on their luck and need a hand, there are many amongst the homeless who affirmatively embrace that lifestyle. They are homeless, not because we (society) have failed them, but because they like the freedom that comes with homelessness. They have no amenities, but they have no obligations either.
Progressives aren’t insane, notwithstanding the oft-repeated definition of insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Solipsism isn’t insanity. It is, instead, a failure of imagination and an emotional immaturity that makes it impossible for a person or belief system to accept other attitudes and desires.
Obamacare is the gift that just keeps giving . . . if you want to prove to Americans that Leftism works only on paper and, even then, only if you lie about the numbers. We’ve already had proven that you can’t keep your insurance, you can’t keep your doctor, you can’t keep your hospital, and you can’t keep your money. The past weeks have also revealed that you can’t keep your job.
The Democrats have tried to spin this last point by saying that people will be freed of the drudgery of work and suddenly have time to innovate. In fact, according to studies of people who were given that time to innovate (start businesses, invent things, etc.), the sudden time freedom made no difference:
More importantly, a thorough review of the available literature done by the RAND Corporation in 2010 concluded “On net, there appears to be little consensus in this literature on the existence or magnitude of the effect of health insurance on business creation.” To be sure, the same RAND report provides a new empirical analysis suggesting “that “entrepreneurship lock” for men is just over 1 percentage point relative to an annual base business creation rate of 3 percent.” But one way or the other, all these various studies represent efforts to infer the number of “entrepreneur-locked” individuals in the U.S.
Far more convincing is evidence of what happens after the introduction of universal or near-universal health coverage. For example, our OECD competitors all have had national health systems for decades. Yet Edward Prescott, co-winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Economics, has observed that “entrepreneurship is much lower in Europe.” If universal health coverage truly had a demonstrable impact on individual willingness to take risks, this disparity seems counterintuitive. Admittedly, there are many other factors such as tax and regulatory policy that might affect these cross-national comparisons. So the most convincing evidence comes from the first empirical study ever to explore the actual impact of the a shift to universal coverage on entrepreneurship. This study of the Massachusetts health reform (“Romneycare” after which Obamacare was purportedly modeled) found the following:
The author finds significant and persistent suppression of new organization formation when controlling for organization size, sector and owner gender, and limited evidence of geographic displacement of firms across the New Hampshire border. While theory suggests mandatory insurance should reduce insurance costs and improve worker productivity, the author finds that the regulation has no significant impact on worker productivity and limited evidence of increases in insurance costs, and estimates the expected cost in terms of lost employment, sales to the local economy and tax revenue to in the majority of cases exceed the benefit.
Judging by my own life, this data doesn’t surprise me at all. When vistas of free time open before me, I don’t innovate, I become inert. More significantly, my brain slows down. While I, as a busy person, can get 10 chores done in a day, as an un-busy person, I’m lucky if I get 2 or 3 chores done. My flywheel has stopped spinning and I find it difficult to marshal the energy needed to overcome the inertia and get that flywheel spinning again. It’s entirely true that, if you want to get something done, you should ask a busy person.
Moreover, if you want to build a better mousetrap, you should probably ask a busy person about that too. It’s the busy person who has an incentive to simplify tasks. It’s a busy person who engages with the world in a way that sows and fertilizes ideas in his mind. It’s also a busy person who dreams of leisure and takes affirmative steps to create sufficient wealth to bring that leisure time about. Enforced leisure lacks all of those incentives. After all, if enforced leisure went hand in hand with creativity and innovation, Europe’s once-thriving cradle to crave welfare states would have resulted in the most dynamic economies in history, rather than in economic basket cases.
It’s true that there have always been people who, because of their great wealth, were able to indulge their passions in ways that benefit the world. Reading about these people, though, one senses that they were so driven that, no matter their station in life, they would have affected the world around them. Florence Nightingale, for example, had a calling that would actually have been easier for her to pursue if she hadn’t come from a fabulously wealthy, upper-class family. Most inventions, though, come from busy people trying to figure out a better way (Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, John Rockefeller) or from people who were in a line of work that let their brain float freely to another line (Albert Einstein).
This is a sort of random, ill-thought-out post. I’m confident in my core idea, but I’m not expressing it as well as I ought — probably because of the stultification of being couch-bound for so many days now. Please chime in to support or oppose my ragged thoughts.
When I was at UC Berkeley, I had two good professors from whom I actually learned something. One of them was Sheldon Rothblatt, who then taught a class covering England from the Industrial Revolution to the dawn of World War I. He was a delightful teacher, able to infuse life and color into what would have been, in less skilled hands, a drab recital of capitalist oppression and Marxist struggles.
Looking back, I realize that Professor Rothblatt, unlike the usual Marxist cohort in Cal’s history department, viewed people as individuals with wants and desires, rather than as mere cogs in an endless struggle between oppressed masses and oppressive upper classes. Prof. Rothblatt’s recognition that individuals count may go a long way to explaining the answer he gave when someone asked why the Industrial Revolution was petering out in England at the beginning of the 20th Century while, in America, it kept roaring on.
If I remember correctly, Prof. Rothblatt said that the end of the Industrial Revolution in England lay with the working classes. The problem wasn’t that they were too oppressed. Instead, between the downward pressure from the class system (“an Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him“), and the rising level of (comparative) luxury brought about by the Industrial Revolution, working-class Englishmen simply stopped trying very hard. They knew that, no matter the effort they put in, they wouldn’t be able to break through the class ceiling. Additionally, provided that they weren’t living in abysmal poverty, they had more creature comforts than they could ever have imagined. So why work?
In America at the beginning of the 20th Century, things were different. The working classes knew that, with effort, they could rise up and their children could rise up even more. Heck, John D. Rockefeller went from a very shabby childhood to being one of the richest men in the world. Andrew Carnegie, the son of a Scottish weaver, did the same. While most wouldn’t reach those rarefied heights, there was no doubt that, with hard work, geographic mobility, and America’s open class system, a man or a woman, or that man’s or woman’s descendents, could realistically attain middle class or even wealthy status. In addition, as the original poor gained economically because of the Industrial Revolution, thereby leaving the working class behind, there was a constant influx of (legal) immigrants to provide fresh, hope-filled labor for the factory floor. Yes, many people fell by the wayside, but even more people ascended American society’s ranks — and that was itself an incentive for continued effort.
America has changed dramatically since then in three very significant ways. First, we’ve lost our geographic mobility. I know that sounds funny in a day and age of trains, planes, and automobiles, but it’s true. We are heavily weighed down by both tangible and intangible assets. If my husband were to lose his job (God forbid!), and if there were no employment prospects here, moving to find work would be reasonable. Nevertheless, we would find it incredibly difficult to move. Every room in our house is crammed with stuff that would have to be sorted, sold, packed, and transported and then, at the other end, we’d have to unpack, re-sort, and probably sell some more. Unlike people in days of old, who might have had only a few clothes, a Bible, and a cook pot, we have four computers (one for each of us), hundreds of clothes (between the four of us), thousands of books (mostly mine), televisions, kitchen gadgets, appliances, dishes and cookware, cleaning supplies, furniture (too much, since my husband can’t bear to part with old when we buy new), family photographs, art work, knick-knacks — and that’s probably only a partial inventory of the tangible clutter that is a modern life.
A move also requires transporting our intangibles. We have to engage in the tiresome task of changing our bank accounts. In the old days, you’d just deposit or withdraw money. Now the paperwork of setting up a new account to comply with the bank’s requirements, the state’s requirements, and the fed’s requirements can take hours. We have to sever all our ties to cable companies, phone companies, and utilities, and then recreate new ties at our destination. We need to change our address with credit card companies and make sure that Amazon ships more clutter to our new address not our old. As I remember from my last move, it was almost a year before I’d managed to transfer every bit of data from my old address to my new one.
Second, illegal immigration means that our new crop of workers remain as perpetual bottom feeders, stultifying America’s former dynamic of moving from the bottom of the heap up to the middle or beyond. We give the illegals marginal jobs, welfare, and food stamps, but they are, as their community organizers like to say, stuck in the shadows, something that severely limits upward mobility. The appropriate course of action for our nation to take, of course, isn’t to grant amnesty, which is an invitation to yet another large batch of economically stultifying illegal shadow workers. It is, instead, to shut down our borders, deny welfare to illegal immigrants and education to their children, put pressure on companies that employ them, and watch them self-deport. Meanwhile, if we do indeed need all these workers, we should dramatically boost our legal immigrant quota and enable more people to come here freely and work openly.
Third, and most significantly, we’ve now got Obamacare, which acts as a disincentive to hard work. John Podhoretz neatly summarizes the key points of the CBO’s most recent report about Obamacare’s effect on employment:
If that’s not startling enough [that the number of uninsured will stay the same or even rise, there’s also the telling projection about ObamaCare’s impact on employment — “a decline in the number of full-time-equivalent workers of about 2.0 million in 2017, rising to about 2.5 million in 2024.”
Overall employment will rise, the report says, but not steady, secure, long-term assured employment. The possibility of securing government-provided health-care without employment will give people a new incentive to avoid it. “The estimated reduction stems almost entirely from a net decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply,” the report says.
Indeed, overall, between 2017 and 2024, the actual amount of work done in this country will decline by as much as 2 percent.
How come? Because of perverse incentives ObamaCare provides in the form of subsidies to some and higher taxes to others.
First, the report says Americans will “choose to supply less labor — given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive.”
Here’s why: Poor people get certain subsidies, which disappear once a worker achieves a certain level of compensation. So it may be better to work less, or not work at all, rather than reach that higher pay level, because the pay increase won’t offset the loss of the subsidy.
For those at the bottom economically who once had dreams of “movin’ on up,” Obama has placed insuperable hurdles in their way: any incremental increase in wages from working longer hours or at a more demanding (but better paying) job will be offset by a dramatic increase in healthcare costs, resulting in either more work for less money or more work for the same money — neither of which is an appealing option. Only those workers who are able to make the unlikely leap from poor to rich overnight will be able to bypass this barrier without suffering.
What all this means is that the modern American worker is now situated in the same way as the late 19th century English worker: Where the English worker knew that the class barrier meant that harder work wouldn’t see him rewarded for his effort, the modern American knows that the Obamacare barrier means that harder work will not see him rewarded for his effort. Where the English worker was frozen geographically because there were no better alternatives elsewhere (that class thing again), the American worker is likewise frozen, both because Obamacare’s perverse incentives apply everywhere and because moving is just too gosh darn difficult.
Lastly, just as that long-ago English worker had reached a level of comfort that made him willing to accept class and geographic limitations, so too has the American worker reached a fairly comfortable dead end. He’s certainly not living lavishly. However, thanks to Obamacare, unemployment, food stamps, and welfare, he’s getting an endless vacation. He may not be basking on a Tahitian beach, taking in Broadway shows, or touring Europe’s cities, but he’s surfing the internet, talking to friends on his smart phone, and getting high scores on Call of Duty, all while receiving a bi-monthly check from both state and federal governments. And when this sedentary lifestyle starts to have consequences — everything from carpal tunnel syndrome to life-threatening blood clots — he knows he’ll get free medical care that’s every bit as good as the Cuban medical care that multi-millionaire communist Michael Moore has raved about.
Some of you might be shaking your heads and saying “But no one would want to live that way. It’s a squalid, marginal lifestyle.” Well, as I’ve written here before, there are a lot of people who think it a fine way to live. At the very least, it sure beats working. For these people, the journey from a poorly paid job to permanent welfare is a much easier trip, both practically and economically, than working harder to make more money, only to see the extra wages vanish into the endless maw that is Obamacare.
While walking the dogs this morning, I listened to Mark Steyn, who was guest-hosting for Rush Limbaugh. He pointed out that the real sin of welfare isn’t wasted money but is, instead, wasted humans. As Betty Friedan (of all people) said in a talk I heard 20 or so years ago, there are three ingredients to a quality old age: strong family ties, strong community ties, and work (i.e., a reason to get home in the morning). Much as we humans like to do nothing, the fact is that the Victorians were right when they sagely opined that “idle hands are the Devil’s playground.” Given too much free time, which is what’s about to happen to vast numbers of Americans thanks to Obamacare’s negative incentives, idle hands create tremendous societal wounds as people, rendered meaningless, engaging in destructive or self-destructive behavior.
Many people looking back at the early 20th Century think that World War I and World War II (followed by the loss of India) destroyed England. They didn’t. Those earthshaking events were actually the exclamation points on a society that had already run dry by 1914. Once a society stops striving, it starts dying. It happened there and, unless we can put the brakes on the slippery slope we’re now sliding down, it will happen here.
It turns out that someone I’ve known for yours is, in fact, a conservative. We were both pleasantly surprised to find that we had that in common. He recently forwarded me an email with two telling sentences.
I’ve seen both of these wandering around the internet, but for some reason their juxtaposition struck me as very powerful — or maybe it’s just that tonight Obama’s giving his SOTU, which I am not watching, and these thoughts counterbalance whatever malarkey he’s spouting. I’ll read what he has to say tomorrow. Reading is always better than that tight-ass, clipped, whiny hectoring.
Anywhere, here’s that email:
1. We are advised to NOT judge ALL Muslims by the actions of a few lunatics, but we are encouraged to judge ALL gun owners by the actions of a few lunatics. Funny how that works.
And here’s another one worth considering.
2. Seems we constantly hear about how Social Security is going to run out of money. How come we never hear about welfare running out of money? What’s interesting is the first group “worked for” their money, but the second didn’t.
Think about it…..
I admit that I am not a Reverend Martin Luther King scholar. As is the case for every American educated after 1970, though, I am reasonably conversant with his speeches and writings. My memory is that his crusade was one to remove barriers that society had placed in blacks’ way. He was the ideological heir of Frederick Douglas, who said that white America needed to remove hindrances to black accomplishment, and then leave blacks alone:
“What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!
King’s own views appear in that famous line from his “I Have A Dream Speech”: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” In other words, stop looking at our skin color and let us get on with our lives, just as the rest of Americans do.
The Left, however, has latched onto King’s legacy and converted it into one that sees Blacks as helpless creatures who can succeed only if white America supports them. That’s why the professional race activists created the following chart to “celebrate” Reverend Martin Luther King’s birthday:
Upon whom are the agitators making these “demands”? It seems pretty clear to me that they’re not saying to African-Americans “we demand that you clean up your communities; we demand that you raise your children with Judeo-Christian values that do not include gang banging, drive-by shootings, and knock-out games; we demand that you make high achievement in school a cultural value; we demand that you marry before you have children because the single biggest indicator of poverty is single motherhood; and we demand that you raise children who are such well-behaved, self-disciplined students, that people bang down the door to get into their schools, just as people beg to get into schools with high Asian and East Indian populations.”
Per this chart, African-Americans are passive victims, destined forever to float randomly upon a sea of existential despair and violent poverty. That’s precisely what Reverend King counseled against. He envisioned a world in which the barriers to entry were removed and African-Americans could take their place shoulder to shoulder with all other races. Today’s modern blacks, however, seem to envision just another form of enslavement, only one that doesn’t bare its teeth as openly as the old system did.
My Mom is living off the proceeds from selling her house, my Dad’s small pension, and her equally small social security checks. She is not flush with cash but, thanks to having owned a house in San Francisco, even with today’s minimal interest rates, she still has enough to last her for a few years. In addition, Mom’s first cousin, who is very wealthy, generously sends my mom a nice check every Christmas. This last one is, of course, purely a gift. The fact that it is a gift, however, did not stop Mom from calling me today (the checks are sent to my address) to ask, “Did she send a big check? You know, she owes me a lot of money?”
That reminded me, of course, of the Jewish joke about the beggar who sits outside an office building. Every Monday, a businessman working in the building makes it a point to give the beggar $10. This goes on for quite some time but, one Monday, things change. Instead of handing the beggar a $10 bill, the businessman hands the beggar a $5 bill.
“What’s this?” asks the surprised beggar. “You always give me $10.”
“I’m sorry,” the man replies, “but business has been very bad lately.”
To which the beggar responds, “Just because your business is bad, I should suffer?”
Too many people, my mother included, lack a sense of gratitude and operate purely from a sense of entitlement. This is something worth thinking about when it comes to America’s welfare policies.
A little while ago, I wrote about the people who are permanent residents on welfare because of drug abuse issues. My point was that while they appear like a natural Democrat constituency, the fact is that most of them are too dysfunctional to vote.
Here’s another perspective on that particular class of welfare recipient:
I have a job.
I work, they pay me.
I pay my taxes & the government distributes my taxes as it sees fit.
In order to get that paycheck, in my case, I am required to pass a random urine test (with which I have no problem).
What I do have a problem with is the distribution of my taxes to people who don’t have to pass a urine test.
So, here is my question: Shouldn’t one have to pass a urine test to get a welfare check because I have to pass one to earn it for them?
Please understand, I have no problem with helping people get back on their feet. I do, on the other hand, have a problem with helping someone sitting on their BUTT—-doing drugs while I work….
Can you imagine how much money each state would save if people had to pass a urine test to get a public assistance check?
I guess we could call the program “URINE OR YOU’RE OUT”!
Pass this along if you agree or simply delete if you don’t. Hope you all will pass it along, though. Something has to change in this country – AND SOON!
P.S. Just a thought, all politicians should have to pass a urine test too! They should also have to pass an intelligence test, a common sense test and an understanding the constitution test, as well!!! Remember November 2014 is coming.
Hat tip: Caped Crusader