In the 1930s Stefan Zweig wrote this about Marie Antoinette, “perhaps the most signal example in history of the way in which destiny will at times pluck a mediocre human being from obscurity and, with commanding hand, force the man or woman in question to overstep the bounds of mediocrity.”
Fast forward to 2018 and the unexpected election of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Socialist Democrat-NY).
Like the young Marie Antoinette, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is beloved by the Socialists in the Democratic Party. This makes her, like Marie Antoinette, a very dangerous person.
Marie Antoinette’s fairy tale turned into a tragedy when the French Revolutionary people’s court condemned her to death and she was executed just two weeks shy of her 38th birthday, when the guillotine sliced off her head.
Marie Antoinette would likely have been perfectly happy to have played only a ceremonial part as queen. But Louis’ weakness forced her to take a more dominant role—for which the French people could not forgive her. Cartoons depicted her as a harpy trampling the constitution. She was blamed for bankrupting the country, when others in the high-spending, lavish court bore equal responsibility. Ultimately, she was condemned simply for being Louis’ wife and a symbol of tyranny.
Unlike Marie Antoinette, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has taken upon herself a dominant role in public policy with her “Green New Deal.” Many look at this, 10 year “Green New Deal” plan to save the planet from destruction from climate change, as trampling the U.S. Constitution and ultimately bankrupting the United States of America. A lavish Democratic Party policy initiative that will cost the American taxpayers trillions of dollars.
Democrats’ plans to counteract climate change will involve “massive government intervention” into Americans’ lives, one of the chief proponents admitted in an interview Thursday morning.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said she has no qualms about acknowledging a so-called “Green New Deal” will mean unprecedented governmental intrusion into the private sector. Appearing on NPR, she was asked if she’s prepared to tell Americans outright that her plans involve “massive government intervention.”
Elliott noted, “In her weekly press conference today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) ducked two questions on the more radical components over Ocasio-Cortez’s plan. Asked twice about remodeling every building in the United States, as the plan calls for, Pelosi said, “I haven’t seen it,” before ending the press conference.” [Video]
Will Ocasio-Cortez’s New Green Deal be the Socialist straw that breaks the back of the Democratic Party? Will Democrats face a political guillotine, slicing off their collectivist heads in 2020 and ensuring that Donald J. Trump gets a second term with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress?
Time will tell.
As President Trump stated in his State of the Union address:
Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence –- not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/cortez-maria.jpg353640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2019-02-07 19:52:152019-02-11 18:19:19Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez the Marie Antoinette of the Democratic Party?
Sifting through the internet’s conjecture and extracting the economic truth.
f you have spent much time on Facebook the last few days, you may have seen this meme being passed around from a user named Thomas Corbett:
It has already been shared over 109,000 times, and it is just one of a number of similar viral claims regarding minimum wage and housing from people engaged in the #FightFor15 (or I suppose #FightFor33 if you’re the New York Times).
Others include this one from @pookleblinkie on Twitter with over 60,200 retweets:
They each make the case that housing is unaffordable for people working minimum wage jobs, largely in service of the overall case to raise the federally mandated wage floor.
So what’s wrong with these memes?
As it turns out… quite a bit.
One major red flag that should be immediately apparent is that the numbers for all three viral images are completely different. The first claims that the average rent is $1,418, the second claims $1,234, and the third is presented more circuitously but implicitly claims $1,018.
The NLIHC graphic comes close, but the latest numbers show that as of 2017, the real median rent in the United States was $1,012 per month. This makes Thomas Corbett’s rental price claim 40 percent higher than reality and it makes the one from “pookleblinkie” about 22 percent higher, so we can dismiss both of those as factually off-base from the start.
NLIHC’s website states that their source for housing prices is HUD’s “Fair Market Rents” database, so for the sake of argument, I’m happy to overlook any minor discrepancies there. To their credit, they also show a state-by-state comparison, which is important because the average cost of living varies significantly depending on what part of the country you’re in.
That said, even state-by-state data is probably insufficient as the significant cost of living differences are found between urban, suburban, and rural areas. Not merely based on what state you happen to live in.
Still, the idea that low-income earners have absolutely no way to afford housing is a popular belief, and even if the median rent for the United States is $1,012 a month, that would still be well out of range for someone earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour. In fact, even if 100 percent of the minimum wage earner’s income went into housing—which is clearly impossible—they still would not be able to afford a home at all.
But here’s where we see another serious flaw in the argument.
We’re not comparing apples to apples.
Bottoms Versus Middles
It makes no sense to compare median rental prices to the lowest possible wages. It would only make sense to compare the bottom of the wage distribution to the bottom of the rent distribution. Making a more accurate comparison reveals a completely different picture. For instance, when we compare median rental prices to the median household income in the United States for 2017, we find that the annual cost of renting would be $12,144 on a salary of $60,336/year.
That means that the median rental price is only 20 percent of the median household income.
Unfortunately, I don’t believe there’s any way to break down rental home price data by quintile, but anyone familiar with the concept of a “median” knows that it is the number that falls in the middle of the data distribution.
This means that just as there are an immense number of rental homes that cost significantly higher than $1,012/mo. throughout America, there are an equal number of rental homes that cost less than $1,012/mo. There are also a number of housing options that make a lot more sense than trying to rent a place by yourself as someone working a single minimum wage job.
What’s so Tragic about Roommates?
As someone who has spent his entire adult life post-bachelor’s degree living in expensive major cities (New York, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, Atlanta), I had roommates in every apartment I lived in long after my wages exceeded minimum wage. This is perfectly normal, and sharing costs is hardly something to see as a hardship or a social justice issue. As an added bonus, some of my former roommates are still close friends.
Another way to reduce living expenses is to rent a single room in an existing house—something I have also done at various points in my life. That can bring rental expenses down to the low hundreds of dollars per month even in city centers.
And speaking of city centers, the closer you live to the hub of urban activity, the more expensive rental prices are going to be, so expanding your apartment search to homes that are farther away and commuting in can also save hundreds of dollars a month on rent.
Like many adults, I’ve used each of these approaches to pay less than the median rental price in multiple cities, and I don’t think anyone should regard any of these experiences as humiliating or cruel. To the contrary, they are all frugal ways to make the most of your income.
This is also to say nothing of policy changes that would make new home construction more affordable and less time-consuming by streamlining the permitting processes, reducing zoning restrictions, reducing the number of aspects of the process that require city approval, and just generally lowering the barriers to building. Those kinds of policies would pave the way (pun intended) for an increase in the supply of new homes, which would reduce the cost of existing properties.
Tragically, the inaccurate cost claims are not the only major errors embedded in these images. They’re also more subtly deceptive regarding the demographics of minimum wage earners themselves.
Teens and Twenties
Each of these memes suggests or implies that minimum wage workers are primarily adults with families who have only one income-earner. They also imply that a significant number of people are stuck in minimum wage jobs for their entire lives. And from the way our society frequently talks about minimum wage earners, you’d think that they were a massive group of people.
None of these implications are accurate.
In fact, just 2.6 percent of all wage and salary workers in the United States are working at minimum wage occupations. The overwhelming majority of our workforce earns more than minimum wage. What’s more, 50.4 percent of people working minimum wage jobs are under 25 years old, and 24 percent are still teenagers (16-19). According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Although workers under age 25 represented only about one-fifth of hourly paid workers, they made up about half of those paid the Federal minimum wage or less.
Furthermore, people who work minimum wage jobs are far more likely to be unmarried/never-married, to lack a high school diploma (hardly a surprise when a large portion are still in high school), and most—64 percent—are working part-time. If when you picture minimum wage workers, you think of the high school or college-aged kid working at a grocery store or a quick-service food restaurant, your picture is pretty accurate.
That’s not to say that there aren’t older people with children trying to support themselves on minimum wage jobs. There are, but they are comparatively rare. Only about 15 percent of all minimum wage workers are the primary provider for a family with one or more children. That’s just 0.39 percent of the total workforce, which is around 600,000 people in the entire United States.
And of course, that group certainly qualifies for numerous forms of public assistance, including EBT and housing subsidies—which has not been factored into any of these memes either.
I know this has been a lot of statistics and math, but my goal is to arm the valiant readers who have made it to the end of this article with some better information and some logic so that when you’re browsing Facebook and come across misleading memes, you’re better able to spot the errors.
Sean Malone is the Director of Media at FEE. His films have been featured in the mainstream media and throughout the free-market educational community.
EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/woman-on-computer-laughing-min-e1549403195772.jpg427640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2019-02-05 16:46:492019-02-05 20:14:47Minimum Wage Memes: What They Miss and How They Mislead
People have been asking me as of late about holding cash, at least those that are reading the writing on the wall. Besides the fact that there is a war on cash and a cashless society coming soon, there are other reasons as to the perils of cash. With the talk of a global financial reset, coupled with the stock market gyrations and the unsustainable debt, many people have gone to cash. It used to be known as “cash is king”. Well today, I say “cash is trash”. So what are the perils of holding an excessive amount of cash?
Perils of Cash
Low Interest: Cash and cash equivalent accounts these days are paying perhaps about 1%-2% at best, often times less than that. If you are not keeping pace with the real rate of inflation, you are falling behind in purchasing power and may run out of money down the line.
Inflation: The government reports the inflation rate today to be at around 2%, but like the unemployment numbers, this is not really the case upon further inspection. You see back in the days of Bill Clinton, changes were made to just how it is that the government reports the inflation rate to the American people. It is known as the Boskin Commission. The Boskin Commission, formally called the “Advisory Commission to Study the Consumer Price Index”, was appointed by the United States Senate in 1995 to study possible bias in the computation of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which is used to measure inflation in the United States. How To Rewrite Economic History? Here’s how.
The real rate of inflation as reported by Kirk Elliott, PhD, is at 6.12% today. Based upon Trump’s weak dollar policy and the Fed’s raising of interest rates, we can expect inflation to be on the rise. Interest rate cycles run 28 years on average. We just finished a 30-year declining interest rate environment and as of November 2016, we have embarked upon a rising interest rate cycle. So cash for now is trash. Hold some in the bank and perhaps some at home for emergencies and opportunities.
Global Financial Reset: What exactly is being reset? The debt is being reset and the value of the dollar will decline over time until sound money is restored. Easier said than done. Stay tuned. So once again excess cash may not be wise at this particular time in history. President Trump is now taking on the Federal Reserve, Rothschild World Banking Dynasty and the IMF as a move to restore sound money in order to MAGA. We will more than likely see a gold backed currency. So, buy gold (and silver). There is a reason you hear and use the expression, “it’s as good as gold”, own some. The signs are there indicating the reset is in motion.President Trump takes on the Fed.
Bank Bail-In: We learned all about the bank bail out in 2008-2009. How about the bank bail-in? A bail-inand a bailout are both designed to prevent the complete collapse of a failing bank. With a bank bail-in, the bank uses the money of its unsecured creditors, including depositors and bondholders, to restructure their capital so it can stay afloat. How much of your funds do you want caught in the bail-in? Again, right now cash is trash. Oh yeah, FDIC barely covers a fraction of the trillions on deposit. Take note. So what to do?
Get Out of the System: Well you cant really get out of the system unless you leave the planet. But there are alternative asset classes to consider in this paradigm shift of global economic and monetary policy to consider. I have a proprietary model which is truly a paradigm shift in thinking offering a new sound, superior, proactive approach to protecting and preserving wealth, utilizing both alternative paper assets as well as tangible assets. Follow the trend. The trend is your friend. The goal as wise and prudent investors is to identify and minimize risks and maximize returns keeping pace with inflation.
Does Wall Street have Main Street’s best interest in mind? I think we know the answer to this. While so many others will continue to operate in the deceitful and flawed modalities being advised by an industry they no longer trust. A great change is now upon us. The time for action is now. Better a day early than a day late. Request a copy of the Global Financial Reset Report here. To be continued…
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/money-3-e1549106065292.jpg368609John Michael Chambershttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngJohn Michael Chambers2019-02-02 06:14:482019-03-06 17:48:50The Perils of Cash
Congressman Mo Brooks (R-AL) asked the Under Secretary for Policy John Rood several key questions that confirm that President Trump can build the wall without declaring a state of emergency or the need for Congress to pass any bill. The answer is 10 U.S.C. § 284.
BROOKS: I want to direct your attention to 10 United States Code § 284 which authorizes President Trump to deploy the United States military to the southern border to build fences and to do a lot of other things, and for clarity, if you look it up in the dictionary the word fence includes the word barrier and the word barrier includes walls made of a wide variety of different materials.
So that having been said, it seems to me that 10 U.S. Code § 284 can be used by the President of the United States to direct the United States military to build a wall. Now as of today, you’ve mentioned military forces along the southern border, have any of them been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284?
ROOD: Congressman, I don’t believe any of our forces have been deployed pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 284. You are correct, however, that that use of authority would authorize the secretary of defense to erect barriers, roads, fencing, those types of materials to disrupt drug smuggling.
BROOKS: Does 10 U.S.C. § 284 as you understand it, require the declaration of a national emergency before it is implemented?
BROOKS: It does not?
BROOKS: Has President Trump, to your knowledge, ever used 10 U.S.C § 284 to direct the military to build the wall that is necessary for border security?
ROOD: No, not to my knowledge, Congressman.
BROOKS: If President Trump were to direct the Pentagon and the United States military pursuant to 10 U.S.C § 284 to build such barriers as are necessary to secure our southern border from drug trafficking and international crime cartels would the United States military obey that order?
ROOD: If we judge it to be a lawful order, yes sir. And I assume it would be.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/dorian-hurst-660666-unsplash-e1548948508970.jpg470640Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2019-01-31 10:28:552019-01-31 10:42:3210 U.S.C. § 284: The Law That Will Build The Wall
If the media is “creating and fomenting” anger, this is only part of a bigger story. It may be time to take a lesson from ‘1984’, the political allegory by George Orwell.
What could be a better story for a media devoid of “journalistic ethics” than a group of Catholic high school students, wearing MAGA hats, seemingly mocking a Native American elder?
On social media, people expressed wishes to inflict harm on Nicholas Sandmann. Nicholas is the student who, rather than mocking Native American Nathan Phillips, was stoically smiling. Even after exculpatory evidence was available, some double-downed on their first assessment of Sandmann.
If the media is “creating and fomenting” anger, this is only part of a bigger story. It may be time to take a lesson from 1984, the political allegory by George Orwell. In the totalitarian society created by Orwell, the hate expressed towards the Party’s enemy Emmanuel Goldstein already existed in the minds of the haters. The media are responsible for their lack of ethics, but we are accountable for our own hatred.
Two Minutes Hate
In Orwell’s society, the population is required to engage in a daily ritual called Two Minutes Hate. The Party’s enemies, often Emmanuel Goldstein, are made to seem grotesque. Party members are mandated to rage at these hideous scapegoats:
The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one’s teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one’s neck. The Hate had started. As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen.
Readers of 1984 are uncertain if Emmanuel Goldstein really exists. Fictitious or not, Goldstein is perceived as the biggest enemy of the state. Orwell describes the ritual of the daily rage:
The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.
Tellingly, Orwell writes, “[T]he rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp.” Read Orwell’s observation carefully: The Party depends on its ability to tap into pre-existing rage. Individuals blinded and bonded by rage are easily controlled by the state.
On social media following the Covington High student incident, as in 1984, “a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through [the critics of Nicholas Sandmann] like an electric current.”
A universal truth about human minds is revealed in 1984 and in the events involving the Covington High students. In Stephen Covey’s words, “We see the world, not as it is, but as we are—or, as we are conditioned to see it.”
Through our beliefs, thoughts, and feelings, we interpret what we see and mistake our interpretations for reality. We don’t realize, as Covey puts it, that “When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms.”
“When other people disagree with us,” Covey writes, “we immediately think something is wrong with them.”
We are sure our perceptions are true. The real truth is we rage because we want to rage. Who among us wants to see ourselves as a rager? We want our rage to be someone else’s fault. Enter projection.
Projection is our ego’s attempt to absolve itself of responsibility for our thoughts and feelings by denying they exist in us and finding what we have denied in other people.
How Projection Works
If it snows where you live, you have probably experienced a snowplow operator undoing your snow clearing efforts. Municipal snowplow operators don’t remove snow to make your personal snow removal easier; that’s just a fact of life. Yet every winter there seems to be a news story of an incensed homeowner attacking a snowplow operator. A snowplow operator can’t cause rage, yet one’s interpretation of the operator’s actions can.
Do you see yourself as a considerate person? Do you value being recognized as considerate? There will be times your actions are less than considerate. If you don’t acknowledge the less-than-kind part of your mind, there are consequences.
If we think of ourselves as considerate but act inconsiderately, our buttons will be pushed by people whose actions we perceive as inconsiderate. We will project our inconsiderate side onto someone else whose weakness we see as more egregious than our own. By not cleaning up our own act, we will be driven to find our failures in a family member, a colleague, or someone else we don’t even know.
Not willing to acknowledge our own shortcomings, we might shout from the rooftops or, in today’s age, tweet: I have found the guilty SOB who deserves to be punished. There is a reason other people push our buttons—when we are not aware of our own failings, we try to get rid of the resulting guilt by making a psychological punching bag of someone else.
When I get angry over the failings of others, I strengthen—not release—that sense of failure in myself. Projection guarantees I won’t change. Instead, I will have more of what I am trying to get rid of by seeing it in others. As in 1984, rage begets more rage. Projections boomerang.
We have a choice: we can look honestly at what is in our mind, or we can attack others.
Is Trump the Left’s Emmanuel Goldstein?
Donald Trump is the great psychological scapegoat of our time. Daily, we hear he is the stupid one, or he is the cruel one, or he is the lazy one. I can’t recall another American being the object of so much scorn. Is Trump today’s Emmanuel Goldstein?
Not that Trump isn’t, for example, a lazy, undisciplined thinker. The point is, we can discern something without getting incensed by it. We don’t have to get irate at the bus driver speeding down the street; wisely, we choose to not step off the curb. When you experience intense thoughts of judgment and feelings of anger, take notice. The key to understanding that you are projecting is the anger and judgment you feel.
We Hate Ourselves for Our Mistreatment of Others
We do not hate others for their failures, but for our own. We can’t help but hate ourselves for our mistreatment of others. This is so because in everyone’s mind is a memory, however dim, of our connection to all of humanity.
In his Meditations, Marcus Aurelius expressed his belief that “Everything is interwoven, and the web is holy; none of its parts are unconnected.” Yet we often forget; separation rather than connectedness seems to be reality. To overcome the tendencies of his mind, Aurelius practiced a mental discipline:
Keep reminding yourself of the way things are connected, of their relatedness. All things are implicated in one another and in sympathy with each other. This event is the consequence of some other one. Things push and pull on each other, and breathe together, and are one.
Ryan Holliday writes that sympatheia—“the belief in mutual interdependence among everything in the universe, that we are all one”—is “perhaps the most radical idea in all of Stoicism.”
Projection is antithetical to sympatheia. When we project, we set out to show our false perceptions of our own virtues are true. To prove our innocence, someone else has to be guilty. We think our perception of bad conduct in others justifies our own lousy behavior. When our mind clears we see how ridiculous our posturing is. In his book, Bonds That Make Us Free, philosopher Terry Warner equates our displays of self-righteousness with bad acting:
Those who are not self-deceivingly stuck in their own accusing thoughts and feelings will see our public presentation of ourselves for what it is—an insecure, self-conscious, anxious striving to make a point about ourselves that is always a bit excessive, like bad acting.
People may be bad actors, but those who won’t take responsibility for their own failings are placing the rest of us in harm’s way. Damon Linker warns: “[I]t’s just a matter of time before real-world violence breaks out in response to an online conflagration.”
Those who became unhinged over the hatred they perceived in the Covington High students were projecting the unexamined hatred in their own minds. Instead of projecting, we can offer understanding and kindness.
Orwell was right, haters are going to hate. Yet, when we are willing to look at our unexamined self and take responsibility for it, there is nothing to project. In that space, nothing is left but our common humanity—we all have a right mind and a wrong mind and the power to choose again.
EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/screen-shot-2019-01-28-at-103043-am-e1548791130544.png362640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2019-01-29 14:45:582019-01-29 14:47:21Long Before the Covington High Incident, Orwell Revealed the Truth about Hate
Gordon Gekko missed the mark with his famous Wall Street monologue about American capitalism. It is not greed but economic growth that is, for lack of a better word, good. Growth is right. Growth works. Growth clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Growth has marked the upward surge of mankind. And growth—you mark my words—will save that malfunctioning corporation called the USA.
This is probably pretty obvious to most Americans. Strong economic growth means more jobs and higher wages. Just take a look at the current expansion. It has only been moderate as goes the pace of growth, but it has been sustained. And month after month of a growing economy has brought down the unemployment rate to its lowest level since 1969, even as real wages continue to grow for all income levels. That’s especially true for working-class Americans. The 3.5 percent unemployment rate for Americans with only a high school diploma is the lowest since 2000. Indeed, despite all the debate about income inequality, earnings have been growing faster for those at the bottom than at the top.
Or look at it this way: In their research paper “Productivity and Pay: Is the link broken?” Harvard’s Anna Stansbury and Lawrence Summers find that higher productivity growth is associated with higher average and median compensation growth. The economists show that if productivity growth had been as fast from 1973 to 2016 as it was from 1949 to 1973—about twice as high—median and mean compensation would have been around 41 percent higher.
Yet a growing number of policymakers and pundits on the left and right are questioning the primacy of growth as the key objective of national economic policy. Democrats and progressives are focused on new policies to redistribute wealth, such as Medicare for all, a federal jobs guarantee, or a universal basic income. Meanwhile, Republicans and conservatives, grappling with a president who questions the value of free trade and immigration, have grown publicly skeptical of market capitalism. “The free market has been sorting it out for a while, and America has been losing,” said Vice President Mike Pence. And they have become skeptical of the core goal of increasing economic growth.
Leading the charge among the wonks is Oren Cass, a Manhattan Institute scholar and former policy director for the 2012 Mitt Romney presidential campaign. In his new book, The Once and Future Worker, Cass writes that although “economic growth and rising material living standards are laudable goals … they by no means guarantee the health of a labor market that will meet society’s long-term needs.”
The criticisms of growth skeptics range from the ahistorical to the utopian. Of course, a fast-rising tide of economic growth does not guarantee all boats will rise at the same pace or at a pace that society deems sufficient. “Guarantee,” after all, is a strong word. Depending on the strength one attributes to it, it’s possible nothing can “guarantee” the outcome that some growth critics want: all winners, no losers, no trade-offs, no disruption. But if by guarantee we don’t mean “ensure with ironclad certainty” but only “approximate more closely than any available alternative,” economic growth remains society’s best bet. Indeed, this very urge to undervalue growth’s benefits is the surest sign that growth in America has become a victim of its own success.
G.K. Chesterton famously noted how modern types of reformers see institutions or practices and think, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the wise reply, “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away.” Institutions and policies that endure decade after decade often serve a useful purpose even if that purpose isn’t immediately apparent, and we should be cautious before shrugging them off as unimportant. Our growth-oriented economic policy is a perfect example. It brings tremendous benefits, yet we now risk taking it for granted.
And what an odd time to question the benefits. The Obama administration was much derided for its apparently self-serving claim, made in the 2013 Economic Report of the President, “that in the 21st Century, real GDP growth in the United States is likely to be permanently slower than it was in earlier eras.” But it was a perfectly reasonable baseline forecast that continues to reflect the economic consensus from Wall Street to Washington. For instance: The Federal Reserve’s long-term, real GDP forecast stands at 1.8 percent, about half the average pace from 1947 to the start of the Great Recession. And even that reduced pace of growth seems a tad too optimistic for JP Morgan, which pegs the economy’s long-term growth potential at 1.5 percent.
Obstacles to Growth
There are good reasons why the experts seem so gloomy. The most important—and, perhaps, most inescapable—is demographics. The aging of the labor force, lower birth rates, and a slowing rate of immigration suggest a slowdown in the growth of the American labor force to around 0.5 percent annually going forward—as compared with roughly 2 percent in the 1960s and 1970s. The U.S. economy expanded at a 4.1 percent annual pace during the ’60s—a decade that today’s nationalist populists look back on with great nostalgia. But growth would have been less than 3 percent if the labor force had been growing as slowly back then as it is currently.
The other big obstacle to faster growth is weak productivity, which downshifted just before the Great Recession and has yet to rebound. For the American economy to grow as fast in the future as it has overall since World War II, output per worker will need to rise sharply. Indeed, that is a big goal of the 2017 Republican-pushed corporate tax cuts. They are supposed to increase business investment and eventually productivity growth. But there are no signs either is happening yet, much to the dismay of many conservative economists. The only other hope lies beyond Washington’s tinkering: The private sector continues to innovate. Maybe Silicon Valley will eventually come to the rescue, as innovation in areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics eventually spreads throughout the non-tech economy. The history of radical technological advances, such as electrification, suggest that it can take some time before businesses figure out how to effectively employ them.
The Tangible Benefits of Growth
It can be easy to dismiss all this talk of growth rates as the abstract muttering of economists far removed from the everyday concerns of the average American. As a corrective, George Mason economist Tyler Cowen poses a useful thought experiment in his latest book, Stubborn Attachments. Imagine we redo U.S. history, he says, “but assume the country’s economy had grown one percentage point less each year between 1870 and 1990. In that scenario, the United States of 1990 would be no richer than the Mexico of 1990.”
Michael Strain, my colleague at the American Enterprise Institute, makes a similar point when he writes:
Imagine the world in the year 1900. There was no air travel, no antibiotics, no iPhone, no Amazon Prime, no modern high school and no air conditioning. … Anyone who played down growth a century ago wouldn’t have known they were arguing against any of these things, because none of these growth-enabled features of modern life had been invented yet. But they would have been putting the existence of all these at risk by stifling, even marginally, the economic engine that allowed for their creation.
Sustained and solid growth is what makes these advances possible and is what separates the median American today from the median residents of the world’s developing economies. Sacrificing a tenth of a percentage point here and two-tenths there to, say, protect favored industries from foreign competition or levy punitive taxes on obscenely rich entrepreneurs may seem like a worthwhile tradeoff in the moment. But because of how growth compounds over time, in the long-term such trade-offs aren’t just unappealing but inexplicable. As the Nobel Laureate in economics Robert Lucas wrote, “Once one starts to think about [exponential growth], it is hard to think about anything else.” Marginally slowing down economic growth to achieve other policy goals might cause little harm to us, but it seems both less fair and less wise when the welfare of ensuing generations are accounted for. In Strain’s words, “What in the world of tomorrow doesn’t yet exist? We need growth in order to find the answer, both for ourselves, and for posterity.”
It is strange that intellectuals are dismissing the importance of economic growth at just the point when it is becoming harder to generate—and doubly weird after a long stretch of sluggish growth that has almost certainly played a role in the surge of populist politicians such as President Trump. And these populist leaders are pushing the sorts of policies that make a future of slow growth even more likely.
Trump looks back to the immediate decades after World War Two as the golden age of the American economy. His presidential campaign, for instance, made a point of promising the return of mass employment in the industrial-age industries of steel and coal. Cass, too, has pointed to those decades as an alternate model of economic growth. As he said during a recent think-tank event:
The period of time when productivity growth was really booming most in the American economy was a time when tax rates were much higher, immigration rates were much lower, there was virtually no international trade by the standards of the 1920s or today, and there was a much smaller or non-existent safety net. The idea that what we currently call the pro-growth agenda is actually what has aligned with high growth isn’t true.
That is a wrong-headed interpretation of economic history. While it is true that the so-called golden age era is known for fast economic and productivity growth, economists generally do not credit the lack of trade or immigration. Rather, notes the Congressional Budget Office in a review of research literature on the subject, “the golden age may be more accurately interpreted as the full final exploitation of an earlier burst of innovations through electrification, suburbanization, completion and increasing exploitation of the highway system, and production of consumer appliances.” In other words, huge technological advances in the 1920s and 1930s reaped benefits for decades.
Unfortunately, those productivity gains, along with American industrial superiority over its war-ravaged competitors, have created a myth about the postwar American economy—a myth that populists continue to spread. Yet Fortress America entered the 1970s ill-prepared for the inevitable global competition as the rest of the world’s advanced economies finally recovered.
Both Trump and Cass, therefore, have it backward. It wasn’t too much globalization and economic openness that undermined large swaths of the manufacturing economy, but too little. As Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist and former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan write in Capitalism in America:
The 1970s was the decade when Americans finally had to grapple with the fact that it was losing its leadership in an ever widening range of industries. Though the best American companies such as General Electric and Pfizer powered ahead, a striking number treaded water. They had succeeded during the long postwar boom not because they had any particular merit, but because Europe and Japan were still recovering from World War Two and they collapsed at the first sniff of competition.
The last thing the American economy needs today is a reduction in competitive intensity, whether achieved by shielding industries with tariffs or keeping out the immigrants that help grow the workforce and provide expertise to key industries, especially technology. Nearly half of our “unicorn companies,” another name for U.S. startups worth over $1 billion dollars, were founded by immigrants. Immigrant scientists and entrepreneurs play a disproportionate role in driving the tech progress necessary for sustained productivity growth. Forty percent of Fortune 500 companies have a first- or second-generation immigrant founder. Immigrants may compete with other Americans, but they also employ them.
The Only Viable Solution
The critics of a growth-above-all approach might grant that no other national policy is better at generating material prosperity. But, they say, life requires more than mere materialism. We crave community, beauty, and a certain degree of stability. It is this objection that Harvard’s Benjamin Friedman sought to address in his 2006 book, The Moral Consequences of Economic Growth. True, capitalism and the creative destruction that drive it can disrupt traditional cultures or degrade the environment. And from the Old Testament to the present, men have fretted over usury’s effects on one’s soul (today we might say finance’s effects on one’s morals). But growth doesn’t only erode individual and societal morality. Besides improving material conditions, growth improves moral ones, as well.
Friedman notes how sustained growth “shapes the social, political and, ultimately, the moral character of a people” and “more often than not fosters greater opportunity, tolerance of diversity, social mobility, commitment to fairness, and dedication to democracy.” Slow growth, on the other hand, leads to ugly consequences, especially if voters begin to feel it is inevitable. In times of stagnation, economic policy tilts toward dividing up a fixed pie rather than enlarging everyone’s share. It could mean a society that is less willing to entertain the benefits of international trade, more hostile toward immigration and immigrants, and more comfortable with regulating business.
In fact, “could” is putting it mildly. The tariffs, legislative efforts to reduce immigration, and frequent threats to regulate America’s most successful companies, such as Google and Amazon, already show some of the consequences of the sluggish recovery from the Great Recession—and this from what is supposed to be America’s pro-growth party.
Growth is, and remains, good. Growth is right, staving off a zero-sum politics defined more by group conflict than productive cooperation. Growth works, improving everyone’s standard of living, if not always equally, at least steadily. Growth clarifies, exposing business to competition, and prevents industrial calcification. Growth signifies the evolutionary and upward surge of mankind, evident in everything from modern medicine to interstellar space travel. And a policy geared toward increasing economic growth—pursued attentively and unapologetically—will save the United States of America. All other national economic strategies are but pale imitations.
James Pethokoukis is a columnist and blogger at the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, he was the Washington columnist for Reuters Breakingviews, the opinion and commentary wing of Thomson Reuters.
RELATED VIDEO: Who Gets the Credit for the Booming Economy?
EDITORS NOTE: This FEE column with images is republished with permission. Image credit: Image by geralt on Pixabay.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/growth-e1548783455131.jpg384640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2019-01-29 12:37:502019-03-06 17:52:11Only Economic Growth Will Save the United States of America
How national security, public safety, and Americans’ jobs are on the line.
Although the partial government shutdown has ended, temporarily, President Trump has made it clear that in three weeks he will again shut down part of the federal government if funding is not provided for the construction of the border wall/barrier.
The mainstream media has said that “conservative Republicans” are unhappy with the President for re-opening the government while Democratic politicians are claiming a victory in the battle over the construction of a border wall.
In fact, all Americans should stand behind the President and back his demands for a border wall.
Superficially it would appear that the battle is being waged over a simple difference of opinion to determine the best way to secure the problematic southern border of the United States. In fact, this is how the mainstream media is portraying this struggle.
However, there is far more going on and far more at stake than a difference of opinion.
The battle is actually being fought over the goals of President Trump versus the Democrats’ ultimate goals. The Democrats are at war not just with Trump, but with America and Americans, and are willing to sacrifice national security and public safety in order to attain their goals.
As we shall see, the Democrats have no desire to actually secure our borders and, in fact, have taken many steps to undermine border security and effective immigration law enforcement. Some Democrats have called for the dismantling of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) altogether.
We will explore this shortly, but let’s begin by noting that our immigration laws make absolutely no distinction about the race, religion or ethnicity of aliens, only if their presence would undermine national security, public safety, public health and/or the livelihoods of Americans.
As I have noted in previous articles, an effective barrier along that troubled border would not prevent any people or commerce from entering the United States legally, but funnel all traffic to ports of entry where CBP inspectors can vet these aliens and create records of their entry into the United States and thus help to prevent the entry of alien criminals including members of the drug cartels, transnational gangs, fugitives from justice and international terrorists.
Funneling all commerce through ports of entry would enable CBP inspectors to also screen vehicles and cargo to prevent contraband such as narcotics, weapons and counterfeit products from being smuggled into the United States.
This is vital for public safety, public health, and certainly for national security. The preface of the official report that was authored by members of the 9/11 Commission staff, 9/11 and Terrorist Travel, began with this unambiguous paragraph:
It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.
Additionally, many illegal aliens enter the United States intent on working illegally in the United States so that they can send money back to their families in their home countries around the world.
Prior to World War II the U.S. Labor Department bore the primary responsibility for the enforcement and administration of our immigration laws. The concern was that foreign workers would displace American workers. Furthermore, aliens from Third World countries bring with them expectations of Third World wages and working conditions. When large numbers of such alien workers enter the labor force they consequently drive down wages and working conditions for American and lawful immigrant workers who are similarly employed.
It is beyond reason that the Democratic Party now stands united in opposition to the construction of a secure border structure even though the U.S. Border Patrol, through its leadership and the leadership of the union that represents America’s Border Patrol agents, have all publicly and unequivocally insisted that such a structure would be of huge assistance to them in securing our dangerous southern border.
The Democrats insist that walls are “old fashioned” and that in this day and age we should not erect walls but use drones and high-tech sensors. President Trump’s response was perfect. He said that wheels are also “old technology” but very effective.
During my January 22nd appearance on Fox & Friends I noted that a homeowner would not be likely to install a sophisticated burglar alarm on his/her home without also putting a secure front door on his/her home. Technology on the border without a barrier would be the equivalent of a house with a burglar alarm but without a locking front door to block the entry of an intruder.
The problem is that the Democratic Party of today is certainly not the Democratic Party of years past.
The old Democratic Party supported the concerns and aspirations of blue-collar Americans and sought to pass and enforce laws that protected these workers who are the backbone of America.
The new Democratic Party has turned on its traditional base, blue-collar and union workers, and is now intent on flooding America with a virtually unlimited number of foreign workers, although these illegal aliens are destroying job opportunities and wages for Americans. The Democrats seek to destroy the middle class to push millions of Americans to the left and thus to vote for them when they promise to provide financial assistance to struggling families.
The Democratic Party devised “Sanctuary Cities” that harbor and shield illegal aliens from detection by ICE agents in apparent violation of 8 U.S. Code § 1324, which includes the following felonies:
(iii) knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation;
(iv) encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law;
The Democrats have also provided a plethora of economic incentives for illegal aliens by, for example, providing them with in-state tuition.
These actions certainly encourage huge numbers of illegal aliens to enter the United States, confident that once here, a growing number of municipalities and even states such as California and New York will go to extremes to shield them from ICE even if they are found guilty of committing crimes.
Although border barriers can be extremely effective and have been used successfully in countries around the world, Pelosi has referred to such a barrier as being “immoral,” and other politicians have referred to the barrier as being a “wall of hate.”
Some have said that the Democrats are determined to prevent President Trump from keeping his campaign promise that formed his core platform during the election campaign.
Certainly there may be some truth in that, but let us not forget that the Democrats have been vocal in their opposition to immigration law enforcement even where transnational gangs and violent criminal aliens are concerned.
The consequences of uncontrolled immigration, the obvious goal of the Democratic Party would profoundly and irrevocably change America, and not for the better.
Flooding America with cheap and exploitable foreign labor is certainly not an act of compassion but is immoral as well as illegal. It is also an act of national suicide. Labor is a commodity and when the market place is flooded with any commodity its value plunges.
Alan Greenspan, as I noted in a previous article, “Open Borders Facilitate America’s Race To The Bottom,” in testifying at a hearing conducted in 2009 by the Senate Immigration Subcommittee before Chuck Schumer, actually explained that making Americans compete with foreign workers for jobs in the high-tech industries would reduce the “wage premiums” being paid to American workers, whom he outrageously described as the “privileged elite,” to help reduce “wage inequality” between highly-skilled Americans with American workers who had lesser skills.
Greenspan, at that hearing, also acknowledged that illegal aliens would suppress the wages of the working poor, American workers who had not graduated from high school. Here is the sentence from his testimony:
Some evidence suggests that unskilled illegal immigrants (almost all from Latin America) marginally suppress wage levels of native-born Americans without a high school diploma, and impose significant costs on some state and local governments.
Incredibly, Greenspan claimed that the economic gains would offset wage suppression and the costs that would be imposed on state and local governments.
Here is the irrevocable truth and likely reason for the Democrats’ opposition to border security: Open borders would irrevocably push economically-beleaguered Americans to the Democrats who promise to provide financial assistance to Americans who, through no fault of their own, could no longer survive without government assistance that the Democrats are happy to offer.
It would appear that the “long game” for the Democrats is to essentially create a one-party government by wresting political power from the Republicans.
The Democrats have to know that by not securing our borders America would be that much more vulnerable to international terrorists and transnational gangs and drug cartels but, for them, apparently, the carnage that would result is simply “collateral damage” as they seek political dominance.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/donald-trump-2036890_640.png360640Michael Cutlerhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngMichael Cutler2019-01-29 12:08:092019-03-06 17:55:10The Dire Urgency For Trump's Wall
House Republicans have now twice voted to pay government employees during the partial shutdown, but neither bill has passed the Democrat-controlled chamber.
“House Republicans have repeatedly introduced measures that would pay federal employees during the stalemate,” Rep. Mike Johnson, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “Unfortunately, Democrats refuse to budge.”
“It is disingenuous to express outrage over the approximately 800,000 workers missing paychecks, but then continue to vote in favor of withholding their pay. That is precisely what the majority of Democrats are doing,” Johnson added.
In a statement provided to The Daily Signal, Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., said Democrats’ failure to vote with Republicans to pay federal employees is telling.
“Before choosing to go home early for the weekend, 215 Democrats voted to deprive hard-working federal workers of their pay,” Hice said, adding:
Once again, they blocked a good faith effort to ensure all federal employees receive pay during this stalemate as we allow negotiations to continue on border security. This is just the latest example that Nancy Pelosi and Democrats are only interested in hurting President Trump instead of actually solving problems.
Texas freshman lawmaker Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas, says “actions speak louder than words,” noting that most Democrats failed to join House Republicans and vote to pay federal employees during the partial government shutdown.
“House GOP voted again to pay federal employees,” Crenshaw tweeted Wednesday. “This time just ten Democrats joined us,” he said, adding that the prior time Republicans voted to pay federal employees, only six Democrats had joined them.
The partial government shutdown has now been ongoing for 34 days due to the fight over $5.7 billion in funding for a barrier at the border.
House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., suggested in a tweet that House Democrats had no “sense of urgency” to end the shutdown.
“Democrats decry federal workers not getting paid in one breath and then cancel votes to leave town early in another,” Meadows tweeted Thursday. “Ridiculous—the shutdown is 33 days old. Where is the sense of urgency? There is zero reason anyone in Congress should go home until this is resolved. Period.”
The Senate will be voting on a package to end the shutdown on Thursday, but it is not expected to pass, Politico reported.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., called on the Senate to pass the package, but did not acknowledge the votes the House has taken to fund federal employees despite the shutdown.
“As the #TrumpShutdown hits Day 34, the consequences of this senseless shutdown continue to build,” Pelosi tweeted. “President Trump and Senate Republicans must allow us to do the responsible thing and re-open government.”
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., also introduced legislation Jan. 9 to pay federal employees during the government shutdown who are “tasked with securing our border and deterring illegal immigration,” and Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., told The Daily Signal in an email that Democrats should stop their obstruction.
“Nancy Pelosi and Democrats continue to vote against giving our federal workers a paycheck,” Gosar said. “It’s time for Democrats to stop this nonsense and come to the table and end this shutdown. I remain committed to securing our border and getting Americans back to work.”
Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Ariz., also highlighted on Twitter Thursday that “214 Democrats voted against paying our federal employees at [the Department of Homeland Security].”
Rachel del Guidice is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program. Send an email to Rachel. Twitter: @LRacheldG.
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These foreigners ran a credit card skimming ring in the Tri-Cities, say police
Dozens of Tri-Citians were the victim of a highly sophisticated credit card scam that ended with the arrests of four Eastern Europeans.
Police say the alleged thieves weren’t caught until they had already siphoned $17,000 from accounts just after Christmas.
And there may be dozens more unknowing victims throughout Eastern Washington since police confiscated at least 268 gift cards, each one loaded with a separate account number, name and PIN number.
While the suspects were nabbed at Numerica Credit Union in Richland, court documents show they were operating out of hotels in Yakima County and driving rental cars from Seattle and Southern California.
Emil Kabirov, 21, Denis Legun, 24, Ana Onici, 22, and George Vasile, 35, appeared Friday in Benton County Superior Court.
Judge Joe Burrowes raised Kabirov’s bail to $500,000 — an amount typically reserved for defendants in murder, violent assault and certain child sex cases.
Bail is set at $100,000 each for Legun and Vasile with the stipulation that they surrender their passports before posting bond. If they don’t hand them over but want to be released, the bail amount increases to $500,000 on each.
The suspects may have used a skimming device attached to an ATM, gas pump or a card reader in a store to record legitimate transactions.
The stolen information, or metadata, is then downloaded from the device, providing scammers with account numbers and access PINs.
Often, that information is used to make counterfeit cards with blank gift cards so the thieves can use them like credit or debit cards at various ATMs to unlawfully withdraw money from those accounts.
Kabirov and Legun are identified as Russians, Vasile is Romanian, and Onica is from Moldova and all are ordered to appear in court in February. A fifth suspect got away.
Kudos to Ms. Kraemer!
So why can’t we have reporting like this more often—reporting that doesn’t shy away from telling the public when the crooks are immigrants of some sort!
However, I still have one question: which legal immigration program did this bunch use to get in to the US, or did they arrive illegally somehow? How can we ever reform immigration if we don’t know where the loopholes are that crooks like these creeps take advantage of?
The next time you see a gushing news story where you live about how “new Americans” are causing your city’s economy to blossom, check the study and see if the “Welcoming” gang has factored in the amount of money LEAVING your community!
Remittances are the dollars, US dollars, leaving the US economy and are the primary reason countries like Mexico, El Salvador, India, countries in Africa (e.g. Somalia!) and so forth want their migrants to get to the US where they can find employment and welfare (and fraud/crime) in order to send money back ‘home.’
Legal and illegal migrants sent $53.4 billion in remittances back to Mexico and Central America in 2018. That’s $53.4 billion – with a “B” – and more than double the projected cost of building a border barrier.
Remittances to Mexico alone reached $33.7 billion in 2018, up 21 percent from roughly $27.8 billion in 2016, the World Bank reported.
Remittances to Central America are spiking with a growing inflow of asylum seekers benefiting from U.S. catch-and-release laws. Wire transfers to Central America hit $19.7 billion last year, up from $15.8 billion in 2016. The southbound windfall includes payments to human-trafficking cartels.
With an estimated 83 percent of Mexicans who enter the U.S. illegally sending money home, a surcharge on remittances is one sure way for President Trump to make good on his promise to make Mexico pay for the wall.
For a few cents on the dollar it wouldn’t take long for Mexico to pay for the wall! Dane continues,
At the current (and rising) rate of remittances, a nominal 2 percent surcharge on Mexico-bound funds would raise $674 million for a border wall in the first year. Slap a fee on all foreign remittances — $150 billion last year — and the 2,000-mile barrier is fully paid off within eight years.
See the World Bankstudy. There is big money for global banks in this migration business, while those billions leaving the US are no longer available for circulation in your local economy!
Looking for something to do?
The next time you see any mention in local news about how your city is booming because of “new Americans,” call the reporter, ask him/her for the study the news is based upon and look to see if any mention is made of money leaving your city or state for a third world country. If it’s not there, write a letter to the editor to tell the public that the study is bogus.
And, hey, I will bet there is no mention of costs for the criminal justice system in the glowing economic report either. There might not even be the costs for your local school system!
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/daria-nepriakhina-107503-unsplash-e1547382832420.jpg377640Ann Corcoranhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngAnn Corcoran2019-01-13 07:34:032019-01-13 07:34:05Remittances: The “R” Word No One Talks About
For decades, Shaw was a staunch proponent of genocide, refusing to soften his views even after the full horror of the Nazi death camps was brought to light.
In an excerpt from her recently published book Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism, Kristen Ghodsee freely quotes from the works of the playwright and Fabian Socialist George Bernard Shaw to bolster her argument that capitalism is inherently sexist. The free market forces women to be reliant upon men, wrote Shaw, turning sex into a virtual bribe for financial security. Based on Shaw’s analysis, Ghodsee concludes that capitalism makes slaves out of women who, under socialism, would supposedly be happy and free.
To say the least, citing Shaw is an odd choice if one is advocating for greater freedom and independence. An apologist for the world’s most brutal and oppressive dictators, Shaw had a passionate hatred for liberty, writing,
Mussolini, Kemal, Pilsudski, Hitler and the rest can all depend on me to judge them by their ability to deliver the goods and not by … comfortable notions of freedom.
For Shaw, “the goods” could only be delivered if the people were bound in universal slavery to the state. This enslavement was necessary for the people’s welfare; most of the population were brutes who, when left to their own devices, could not fend for themselves and thus required the state to “reorganize” their lives for them.
In Shaw’s eyes, the pinnacle of civilization had been reached by the Soviet Union. During his 1931 “pilgrimage” to Stalin’s wonderland, Shaw was given a glimpse of what he referred to as a “land of hope.” He denied that the regime had imprisoned significant numbers of political dissidents, describing the gulags as popular vacation destinations. “From what I gather, they can stay there as long they like,” he said.
That’s not to say he was willfully ignorant of Stalin’s atrocities. Rather, he defended them. Blindly accepting Communist propaganda, Shaw argued that the dictator was forced to organize mass executions to keep the country safe from “exploiters and speculators.” Mass murders were also necessary to maintain a competent workforce. As Shaw wrote in 1933, the “unfortunate Commissar” must shoot his own workers “so that he might the more impressively ask the rest of the staff whether they yet grasped the fact that orders are meant to be executed.”
But killing the disobedient and inefficient was only the first step in building a better society. Shaw also advocated for a far-reaching eugenics program. “[I]f we desire a certain type of civilization and culture,” he wrote, “we must exterminate the sort of people who do not fit into it.” This included a whole range of “defectives.”
If you can’t justify your existence, if you’re not pulling your weight … then clearly, we cannot use the organizations of society for the purpose of keeping you alive, because your life does not benefit us and it can’t be of very much use to you.
But his murderous impulses didn’t stop there. A considerable number of people, Shaw argued in 1948, will never toe the line and are therefore no use to the rest of society. “[T]he ungovernables, the ferocious, the conscienceless, the idiots, the self-centered myops and morons, what of them?” he asked rhetorically. “Do not punish them. Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill them.”
Socialism at All Costs
Though many early 20th century intellectuals were enamored with eugenics, arguably none were as committed to the wholesale slaughter of millions as George Bernard Shaw. For decades, Shaw was a staunch proponent of genocide, refusing to soften his views even after the full horror of the Nazi death camps was brought to light. And yet, there are many leftists today who continue to look to Shaw for political wisdom.
Writing for The Irish Times, Fintan O’Toole declares “The world has never needed George Bernard Shaw more.” Employing a fittingly violent metaphor, O’Toole lauds the way in which Shaw trained his machine gun-like personality on the “pieties of Victorian imperial patriarchy.”
Like Kristen Ghodsee, O’Toole praises Shaw for his polemics against gender inequality and the “tyranny” of family life. No mention is made of his fondness for eugenics. Other writers have taken to Shaw’s defense, admitting he sometimes said distasteful things but ultimately brushing off his more extreme statements as mere “satire.” However, given that Shaw’s penchant for promoting totalitarianism carried on for decades, it’s difficult to believe there was anything “satirical” about it. His bloodthirsty political philosophy seems to be have been all too genuine.
Nonetheless, Shaw was also a steadfast critic of capitalism and “Victorian” social values. His fiery denunciations of wealth inequality and traditional sexual morality resonate well with modern progressives. For them, an individual’s adherence to socialist orthodoxy is enough to absolve him of almost any crime.
From the relatively quiet and “respectable” anti-semitism of Ilhan Omar to the brutal and homicidal radicalism of Che Guevara, socialists have not only been willing to ignore the bigots and authoritarians in their midst but have gone so far as to embrace them. And few have been more adored than that eccentric playwright and unapologetic Stalinist George Bernard Shaw.
Tyler Curtis works as a lender at a community bank in Missouri. He also holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from the Missouri University of Science and Technology.
RELATED VIDEO: George Bernard Shaw: Justify Your Existence
EDITORS NOTE: This column by FEE with images is republished with permission.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/george-bernard-shaw_genocide-e1547343349130.jpg403640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2019-01-12 20:36:022019-01-13 06:30:38George Bernard Shaw Was so Enamored with Socialism He Advocated Genocide to Advance It
On January 10, City of Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced his legislative agenda for 2019. In what represents the latest leftist assault on privacy rights and gun ownership, the Mayor proposed that medical professionals be required “. . . to ask patients about the presence of guns in their homes. . . ” The government mandated interrogation is to be undertaken “. . . with the goal of identifying red flags that could indicate risks relative to suicide, domestic violence, or child access to guns.”
In point of fact, the Mayor’s proposal is the latest end-around towards developing a comprehensive registry of gun ownership within Boston, a clear violation of Bostonians’ privacy rights and an intimidation tactic designed to shame gun owners into relinquishing their guns.
Amazingly, the topic of physician inquiries into their patients’ gun ownership status is marred with controversy. This is largely due to the incredulous position and legislative efforts undertaken by the American Academy of Pediatrics in support of banning handguns. In 1992, the AAP, an organization created for the purpose of promoting pediatrician education and representing issues important to pediatricians, actually thought it was sound legislative policy to intrude onto the expressed constitutional rights of American citizens by supporting legislation that would “prohibit the possession, sale or manufacture of handguns in the United States.” Stupidly, the AAP then went on to post it on their website as one of its stated missions.
The issue came to a head when, in the State of Florida, legislation was introduced that would fine a physician $5 million for merely asking a patient if he or she had a gun in his or her home. The proposed legislation arose from an incident where a dense physician in Ocala, Florida, refused to see a patient because she would not disclose her gun ownership status. The logical and sane conclusion to the controversy would have been for the woman to simply see another doctor and share with her friends and community the lunacy of the physician through personal or media communications. At most, she could have reported this physician’s unethical practice to the Board of Medicine and let the issue play itself out that way. Instead, she chose to approach her state legislator who propagated the insanity by proposing a multi-million dollar punishment for physicians who merely ask a question. The fact that the state legislature even considered the bill is a testament to the absurdity of the times in which we live.
Ultimately, the bill was watered down so that what was passed, the Firearms Owners’ Privacy Protections Act (FOPA), prohibited physicians from documenting a patient’s gun ownership status unless it was directly relevant to the care of the patient. The bill also prohibited physicians from discriminating against an individual based on the person’s gun ownership status. Violation of the law was punishable by “. . . a fine of up to $10,000.00, a letter of reprimand, probation, suspension, compulsory remedial education, or permanent license revocation.”
The ensuing multi-year, multi-million-dollar, social and legal controversy ended with an Eleventh Circuit Federal Court ruling tossing the law out as unconstitutional, but the ridiculous, unnecessary, and painful process did bring to light a number of issues regarding the nexus between health care, medical documentation, and personal liberties.
First, indisputably, a physician ought to be able to ask a patient about guns. The issue of accidental gun deaths is a serious problem in American society. Anywhere between 77 and 113 pediatric, gun-related deaths take place in our country each year. Efforts at curtailing these deaths are generally laudable, and the fact is that primary care physicians such as pediatricians engage in all sorts of health screenings designed to prevent disease or injury. Gun safety should be no different.
On the other hand, gun ownership is a cherished right that is to be zealously guarded. Any organization, including the AAP, seeking to decimate that right must be vehemently opposed. The act of refusing a gun owner service merely because that owner is wishing to protect a right expressly enshrined in the Constitution is unconscionable and becomes even more egregious when the patient’s ownership status becomes part of his or her permanent record and accessible by the government. Perhaps, the greater problem is our acquiescence to government funding of our health care and to giving it access to our personal information, but that is another issue altogether.
The principal benefit to our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is to provide a check upon the power of government. That effect is undoubtedly endangered when the government is allowed to know exactly who owns such weapons and unduly regulates who accesses them.
Florida and its physicians learned valuable lessons about gun rights and health care through its experience with the Doc v. Glocks drama; lessons that apparently were not heeded by Mayor Marty Walsh.
Mayor Walsh’s proposal is vastly more draconian than either the Ocala physician’s actions or the state legislature’s response to it. Walsh wants to mandate that physicians interrogate patients about gun ownership. This would no longer be a situation where a pretentious physician on an individual basis decides to ask a question to the point of sacrificing his relationship with his patient. What Walsh is proposing is that physicians work as agents of the state to collect information from patients regarding their most sacred rights and record it for the government’s benefit. The very idea of this proposal strikes a dictatorial and oppressive tone.
Adding to the tyrannical optics, it is the Police Commissioner who is out in public heralding the benign intent of the proposal. Boston Police Commissioner William Gross explained that the goal would be to identify those at risk for domestic violence, suicide or child access to guns in order to guide people to mental health counseling, resources or other help. In short, he said, “We’re just asking [medical professionals] to help identify ways to save lives.”
Isn’t it interesting that practically every oppressive idea proposed by the left is buttressed by the goal of saving lives? And by the way, despite the Police Commissioner’s comment, the government wouldn’t be asking for help, it would be mandating it. In short, anyone harboring a concern regarding excessive governmental intrusion ought to instinctively recall Benjamin Franklin’s words: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
From a practical nature, it is clear that neither the Mayor nor the Police Commissioner have given their proposal sufficient thought. Not only does their recommendation clearly intrude on people’s liberties, but what happens when a patient refuses to divulge such information? Are we going to refuse him or her treatment? Will we fine him or her, or jail the person? What happens if a physician refuses to participate? And what happens if there is a gun-related accident, death, or suicide following a contact with a physician, does the doctor become liable?
Mayor Marty Shaw’s proposal is a bad idea at so many levels. It is draconian, offensive to the Constitution, disrespectful to the free and unencumbered practice of medicine, and an undue intrusion into patient’s privacy rights. Bostonians must oppose it lest the mayor’s disease spread elsewhere.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/jason-leung-684301-unsplash-e1547332386279.jpg427640Dr. Julio Gonzalezhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Julio Gonzalez2019-01-12 17:33:162019-01-12 17:33:18Boston Mayor Proposes Draconian Interrogation Health Care Measure In The Name Of Gun Safety.
October 2018 data, the latest available, show that the average U.S. price – 12.87 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) – rose 0.5% compared with a year ago. If you live in Louisiana, you paid the lowest average residential electricity rates of any state in the country – 9.11 cents per kWh. The next lowest rate is in Arkansas, where residents pay an average of 9.34 cents per kWh.
Below are the cheapest 10 states to livein based on residential electricity rates:
October 2018 Electric Rate
Below are the 10 most expensive states to live in based on residential electricity rates.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/brian-patrick-tagalog-704059-unsplash-e1547292782554.jpg403639Dr. Rich Swierhttp://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngDr. Rich Swier2019-01-12 06:33:142019-01-12 06:39:49Find Out The Cost Of Electricity In Your State. . .
Mainstream economists are overlooking a key connection.
A growing chorus of alarmist voices decries the rising economic inequality in the Western world, especially in the United States. Surprisingly enough, the same mainstream analysts complain about the anemic growth of labor productivity without seeing the correct link between the two.
Data shows a strong correlation between labor productivity and economic inequality (the two charts below). From the end of the Second World War until the mid-1970s, labor productivity grew at a robust rate of almost 3 percent per annum (p.a.), while income inequality declined. Afterward, both trends reversed—labor productivity slowed to below 2 percent growth p.a. on average and has almost stagnated since the Great Recession, while both wealth and income inequality expanded steadily.
The Role of Capital Accumulation in Economic Growth
What common factor could explain the two divergent trends that the mainstream analysts seem to overlook? In the 1940s, Mises was impressed by the ”miraculous” rise in the standards of living of American wage earners, which had been going on for more than two centuries. For him, the answer was straightforward: capital accumulation is the driving force behind both labor productivity and standards of living convergence.
Building on Mises’s work, Rothbard explained in detail what capital accumulation requires: (i) new capital investment that lengthens the structure of production and (ii) technological progress that overcomes the diminishing returns accompanying the increase in the supply of capital goods. However, Mises also warned that depletion of the capital stock would hamper capital accumulation and labor productivity. Unfortunately, mainstream analysts and the United States seem to have forgotten this valuable lesson.
In terms of technological progress, the US has maintained its world leadership during past decades. It ranks second in the world to Switzerland in terms of both innovation and business sophistication, spends more for Research & Innovation than the OECD or EU on average relative to GDP, and makes up the majority of the top 25 universities in the world. Moreover, it has issued the same amount of patents over the last three decades compared with the previous 150 years.
In terms of capital stock, the picture is completely different. According to estimates of the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), the stock of private non-residential assets per worker has increased in real terms at about 1 percent p.a. from 1947 to 2009 and stagnated since the Great Recession (left chart below). However, BEA’s alleged sustained pace of capital growth seems hard to reconcile with the falling private investment and savings since the mid-1970s (right chart below).
In addition, the BEA methodology presents some serious shortcomings. Except for cars, BEA uses the “perpetual inventory method” to estimate fixed assets. According to it, the value of the capital stock is indirectly estimated as the sum of past investment flows minus the estimated depreciation. It means that all past investments are considered sound by default, which is certainly not the case nowadays when recurrent booms and busts cause significant volumes of malinvestments. Other question marks relate to the accurate estimation of depreciation rates in the face of rapid technological progress and the use of GDP deflators as their accuracy is unreliable, especially with regard to real estate investment.
All these considerations have led not only us but also the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) to suspect that BEA’s estimates of the US capital stock are overvalued. It is intriguing that the FRB adjusts the BEA estimates downward, especially with regard to real estate assets— “structures” in BEA’s jargon when it uses them as input for the calculation of the capital stock in manufacturing. As a result, there is a substantial difference between BEA and FRB estimates of the evolution of the volume of manufacturing capital stock from 1952 to 2016, in particular for the real estate component (left chart below). Therefore, we tried to recalculate the BEA estimate of the total stock of private non-residential capital per employee by extrapolating the difference between the two manufacturing indexes coming from BEA and FRB (right chart below).
The new results suggest that the real stock of capital per worker grew in a clear and sustained manner only until the end of the 1970s and fell afterward until the trough of the Great Recession. The recalculated capital stock is more consistent with the observed declines in investment and productivity since the mid-1970s and also confirms Mises’s prediction that wrong policies would lead to capital consumption.
Economic Consequences of Big Government
For the United States, the failed economic policy is the exponential growth of government intervention in the economy in the 20th century, which stifled entrepreneurship and capital accumulation. This is obvious in the rise of both government spending that redistributes away economic resources from their originators (left chart below) and the amount of regulatory burden (right chart below). Another key factor taking a toll on capital endowment is inflation, which gained traction following the de facto abolishment of the gold standard in 1971.
Most importantly, inflationary policies trigger boom-bust cycles via the artificial lowering of interest rates below their free-market level. In a recent article on the business cycle, Salerno emphasizes that “overconsumption” and “malinvestment” are the two salient marks of the boom—not “overinvestment,” as wrongly understood by some mainstream critics. It is no surprise that the capital stock per worker dropped during the business cycles that have occurred regularly since the 1970s and that culminated in the Great Recession. The illusion of the boom fuels not only capital consumption but also the polarization of wealth and incomes in the society. The fiduciary credit expansion fuels an increase in asset prices, most commonly on stock exchanges and in real estate (charts below).
Although starting from a limited number of transactions, all owners calculate their net worth with the newly inflated asset prices, boosting the value of household assets in excess of liabilities. As a result, the rich appear to get even richer in an economy on steroids. This explains why both the US national wealth has grown much faster than national income since the end of the 1970s (left chart below), and the number of wealthy people increased significantly (right chart below).
The rising inequality since the 1970s has been fueled by both the decline in labor productivity and monetary expansion inflating asset prices. Both are perverse effects of government interventionist policies, which led to a gradual erosion of the US capital stock per employee. This is the correct linkage between inequality and productivity as explained by Mises and other Austrian School economists.
People have different skills and preferences, so the free market does not lead to a complete equalization of incomes and wealth. Nevertheless, it does ensure the proper allocation of capital to increase labor productivity and satisfy the most urgent needs of consumers. As a result, the gap between the well-off and the poor is not only gradually diminishing but also gets less significant in terms of consumption. Eventually, the disadvantage of wealth inequality becomes mostly a psychological one. As long as the capitalist consumes only a fraction of his wealth and invests the rest into productive businesses, the real beneficiary of the increase in labor productivity is the poorer part of society.
Dr. Mihai Macovei is an associated researcher at the Ludwig von Mises Institute Romania and works for an international organization in Brussels, Belgium.
EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/econgrowth-e1547237696222.jpg370640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2019-01-11 15:15:072019-01-11 15:50:35Slowing Productivity and Rising Inequality Have a Common Driver: Government Intervention
“Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.”
During a speech at Harvard several years ago, Charlie Munger related a story about a surgeon who removed “bushel baskets full of normal gallbladders” from patients. The doctor was eventually removed, but much later than he should have been.
Munger, the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, wondered what motivated the doctor, so he asked a surgeon who participated in the removal of the physician.
“He thought that the gallbladder was the source of all medical evil, and if you really love your patients, you couldn’t get that organ out rapidly enough,” the physician explained.
The doctor was not motivated by profit or sadism; he very much believed he was doing right.
That politicians would persist with harmful policies should come as little surprise. The Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman once observed the uncanny proclivity of politicians “to judge policies and programs by their intentions rather than their results.”
[The threat comes] … from men of good intentions and good will who wish to reform us. Impatient with the slowness of persuasion and example to achieve the great social changes they envision, they’re anxious to use the power of the state to achieve their ends and confident in their ability to do so. Yet… Concentrated power is not rendered harmless by the good intentions of those who create it.
I don’t doubt that California lawmakers, like the physician who was removing healthy gall bladders, believe they are doing the right thing. Yet they, like the physician, need to wake up to reality and realize they aren’t making people better.
Jonathan Miltimore is the Managing Editor of FEE.org. Serving previously as Director of Digital Media at Intellectual Takeout, Jon was responsible for daily editorial content, web strategy, and social media operations. Before that, he was the Senior Editor of The History Channel Magazine, Managing Editor at Scout.com, and general assignment reporter for the Panama City News Herald. Jon also served as an intern in the speechwriting department under George W. Bush.
EDITORS NOTE: This column with images by FEE is republished with permission.
https://drrichswier.com/wp-content/uploads/san-francisco-homeless-e1547236440717.jpg360640Foundation for Economic Education (FEE)http://drrich.wpengine.com/wp-content/uploads/logo_264x69.pngFoundation for Economic Education (FEE)2019-01-11 14:54:122019-01-11 15:06:21Data Show California Is a Living Example of the Good Intentions Fallacy