Nazism returns: European Union to put warning labels on Jewish-made products

Europe has gone down this road before. It didn’t end well. This time, its principal motivator is the continent’s rapidly growing Muslim population, as well as its endless infatuation with an increasingly anti-Semitic Left.

Europe Poised to Put Warning Labels on Jewish-Made Products,” by Adam Kredo, Washington Free Beacon, August 9, 2019:

The European Union is poised to mandate that Israeli products made in contested territories carry consumer warning labels, a decision that could trigger American anti-boycott laws and open up what legal experts describe as a “Pandora’s box” of litigation, according to multiple sources involved in the legal dispute who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Advocate General of the European Court of Justice recently issued non-binding opinion arguing that EU law requires Israeli-made products to be labeled as coming from “settlements” and “Israeli colonies.”

The decision was seen as a major win for supporters of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, or BDS, which seeks to wage economic warfare on Israel and its citizens. Pro-Israel activists, as well as the Jewish businesses involved in the legal dispute, see the decision as an ominous warning sign that they say is reminiscent of Holocaust-era boycotts of Jewish businesses.

With the EU court’s 15 judge panel now poised to issue its own binding judgment in the case, legal experts are warning that a potential decision mandating such labeling could pave the way for goods from any disputed territory to receive such treatment. The decision also could trigger U.S. anti-boycott laws meant to stop Israeli-made goods from being singled out for unfair treatment on the international market….

The legal dispute first began after France passed a law mandating that products made in the West Bank territory of Israel be labeled as coming from an “Israeli colony,” a label not applied to any other products across the globe.

The term “Israeli colony” is not legally required to be applied under EU law and was seen as overly burdensome by Israeli business leaders.

Following the French decision, the Israeli Psagot winery filed a lawsuit alleging unlawful discrimination against Jewish companies. That lawsuit eventually made its way to Europe’s highest court, the European Court of Justice.

That court now appears poised to affirm the advocate general’s opinion mandating that Israeli goods be labeled in a fashion that opponents say is unfair and anti-Semitic in nature….

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

VIDEO: Why Welfare Hasn’t Cured Poverty

More than five decades, several welfare programs, and $25 trillion later, the welfare system has utterly failed the poor.

The poverty rate remains mostly unchanged, and tens of millions of Americans are dependent on government assistance.

Currently, the United States spends about a trillion dollars a year on 80 different federal, state, and local welfare programs.

About 40 million Americans are considered poor. If we divided that $1 trillion among those 40 million people, we could give each person approximately $25,000 a year, or $100,000 a year for a family of four.

We’re clearly spending a lot of money, so why have we not ended poverty?

Our welfare system discourages work. It discourages families from staying together. And it encourages dependence on government.

In other words, welfare keeps the poor poor.

In many cases, welfare has harmed the very people it was supposed to help, especially children.

Why has this happened?

As welfare benefits grew over the years, they increasingly served as a substitute for a working parent.

As the taxpayer became the family breadwinner, that encouraged many men to stop upholding their responsibilities, leaving more and more women as heads of single-parent households.

On the other side of the coin, single mothers were discouraged from marrying the fathers of their children because that reduced their benefits.

Sadly, the cycle continues today as many children who grow up on welfare eventually follow in their parents’ footsteps when they have families of their own.

So, what do we do?

First, we have to understand that the problem with the current system is that it discourages work. Work is the fastest and most effective way to get out of poverty and become prosperous.

Welfare programs should be designed to offer temporary help while encouraging able-bodied recipients to find work and become self-reliant.

In states that have implemented time limits and welfare-to-work requirements, recipients have received job training, found jobs, and increased their incomes dramatically. They’ve also dropped off the welfare rolls.

Second, we must continue to create the jobs that help recipients transition to work.

As we’ve seen in just the past few years, cutting taxes on individuals and businesses and cutting regulations that hinder business growth are the keys to massive new job creation, high levels of employment, and increased wages for workers.

Most Americans want a social safety net that helps those who can’t help themselves and they want to help the poor find meaningful work.

We’ve learned through decades of experience that throwing more money at poverty doesn’t end it. Temporary assistance, jobs training, growing the economy, and promoting self-sufficiency do.

As we wage the war against poverty for the next generation, let’s fight smarter.

COMMENTARY BY

Portrait of Genevieve Wood

Genevieve Wood advances policy priorities of The Heritage Foundation as senior contributor to The Daily Signal. Send an email to Genevieve. Twitter: .

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Baltimore Blues


Dear Readers:

With the recent conservative victories related to tax cuts, the Supreme Court, and other major issues, it is easy to become complacent.

However, the liberal Left is not backing down. They are rallying supporters to advance their agenda, moving this nation further from the vision of our founding fathers.

If we are to continue to bring this nation back to our founding principles of limited government and fiscal conservatism, we need to come together as a group of likeminded conservatives.

This is the mission of The Heritage Foundation. We want to continue to develop and present conservative solutions to the nation’s toughest problems. And we cannot do this alone.

We are looking for a select few conservatives to become a Heritage Foundation member. With your membership, you’ll qualify for all associated benefits and you’ll help keep our nation great for future generations.

ACTIVATE YOUR MEMBERSHIP TODAY


EDITORS NOTE: This Daily Signal column with video is republished with permission. © All rights reserved.

Another Budget, Another Load Of Boulders On Our Children’s Backs

We should not be sleeping well at night, but not for the reasons you are thinking.

Yes, there is the threat of socialism and open borders and unnecessarily fanned racial strife amongst other general insanities. But there is the reality that every single year we are binding our children as indentured servants. Right now. It’s happening. And it is shameful.

You may not have seen it, but D.C. is entering into another irresponsible and immoral budget agreement where the politicians, the bureaucrats and the D.C. establishment get what they want — and future Americans get the shaft.

I warned that “draining the swamp” was going to be far, far bigger than a single president or a single election. It will take a change of who we send to Washington on an ongoing basis, which means that Americans need to think differently than we’ve been trending. That’s a tall order and it’s a challenge to be optimistic about it.

Even after promising last year to never again bust the budget in a compromise agreement that piles on the debt, President Trump appears ready to do just that with the support of both Republicans and Democrats. When everyone agrees on spending, you know that the American taxpayer is about to get nailed — or more specifically, future taxpayers. But hey, it’s for two years, which pushes it past the next election as per the normal arrangement, so the hacks get to skate on the issue.

Yet it appears that by all polls, the national debt barely ever even shows up even at the bottom, and probably the number of views this article will likely get, that no one really gives a rat’s hiney about the budget and the debt. It’s just not all sexy and loud and Us versus Them. Too bad. Because eventually it’s fatal. And it’s immediately immoral.

I keep using that word. It does mean what I think it means.

In 2018, the per capita debt for Americans was $65,600 — about 50 percent more the national average income for a year. So if you took all of everyone’s income for an entire year, you wouldn’t come close to erasing the debt — plus you wouldn’t fund the government that year. And everyone would die.

But worse, it was $62,100 in 2017. For every trillion-dollar annual deficit, the per capita debt load increases about $3,400 per year. That actually does come due, and it won’t be Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell paying it. So by the end of this budget deal, the debt per capita will be $72,400 — $10,000 more per person than in 2017.

Yes. That’s immoral.

Of course this comes about because of the decades of irresponsible spending and spending and spending, and the constant brinkmanship of the Continuing Resolutions that allow for larded up pork projects and no cuts because of the threat of a government shutdown. The GOP should have figured out by now that the shutdown issue is a media creation that virtually no Americans outside of some government employees and contractors notice even with the incessant media coverage.

And there is the deadline for the U.S. missing debt payments in September because of the spending cap, which is obviously not worth the piece of paper it was scribbled on in crayon as they just lift it every year, or in this case, every other year. The budget is not about spending or taxing, it’s about whether we use the “crisis” of a government shutdown or the “crisis” of not making a debt payment that requires whatever spending free-for-all we have to swallow.

Here’s the gist of yet another horrible deal.

The spending increase that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin agreed to would raise current budget caps by $320 billion over two years. The increase is a paltry $30 billion less than Democrats sought. They got 90 percent of what they wanted.

Further, Noah Rothman wrote on Bloomberg:

“If split evenly over two years, that would equal a $17 billion increase for defense and $17 billion increase for domestic programs in 2020 over 2019 levels, giving Democrats the parity they sought for increases in both categories of spending.”

The Trump team wanted to partially offset the increases with savings from entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid that are not subject to annual budget caps. But of course, that did not happen. And don’t be fooled by the $320 billion number. That is the budget cap issue. The deficit is expected to be about $1 trillion each year. Because the Swamp always wins.

So the Democrats got essentially everything they wanted. This is what I meant when saying that one election of one president could not change the corruption level of the D.C. establishment.

But whatever — just another trillion dollars dumped on our children and grandchildren while we debate the really big issues of rats in Baltimore, Trump’s tweets and who had the best sound bite at the Democrat debates.

A few lonely Republicans have remained opposed to the irresponsible spending.

“I paid off a third of the state debt when I was governor of Florida,” Sen. Rick Scott said on CNBC Wednesday ahead of Thursday’s vote. “There’s no focus up here on the debt. We can’t have $22 trillion worth of debt and growing a trillion dollars a year and it not have a consequence at some point.”

That’s right. But obviously we’re doing it anyway. The vote was 67-28. Scott went on.

“We’ve got to have a legitimate conversation about how do we spend our money up here, let’s stop the waste, let’s live within our means, we do it at the state level,” he said. “I paid off $10 billion worth of debt and cut $10 billion worth of taxes. We cut 20 percent of our regulations. And we added 1.7 million jobs. This is all doable, but you’ve got to make choices. Up here what happens is everyone gets everything, so there’s no tough choices made.”

But even Scott, when pushed gently, would not name the big dogs in the debt — the ever-growing entitlement trifecta of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. We can eliminate entire agencies and squeeze out waste, fraud and abuse, but it won’t close the trillion-dollar annual gap. The Swamp knows what needs to be done, and has no intention of doing it.

No, we should not be sleeping well at night. We are loading up our offspring to pay off debts they did not incur.

EDITORS NOTE: This Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Middle America: It’s time to make your 2ndVote count

Starbucks. Nike. Amazon. Facebook.

To millions of Americans, these companies embody our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit. However, they also represent the takeover of leftist values in our nation’s largest and most influential corporations – all on the backs of Middle America’s second vote
consumers.

  • Starbucks (1 – Liberal) is perhaps most famous for its opposition to religious liberty – a position which contradicts America’s Judeo-Christian traditions in favor of the LGBT agenda. It also supports gun control and open borders. Facebook (1 – Liberal) blocks
    and removes pro-life videos while promoting Planned Parenthood’s life-ending agenda.
  • Amazon (1.3 – Liberal) recently removed books promoting the scientifically-sound principle that people with same-sex attractions don’t have to engage in the LGBT lifestyle. (Of course, Amazon has no problem selling books celebrating pedophilia or Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf.)
  • And Nike (1.9 – Liberal). They support taxing Middle America to pay for left-wing environmental projects and they back putting bureaucrats in charge of your kids’ education. Worst of all, they pushed racial strife by endorsing Colin Kaepernick’s view that America’s law enforcement is racist instead of dedicated to public safety.

As second vote Americans, you have the power to change this! You have the power to tell these corporations that they should stick to providing their product or service instead of being political actors.

The best way to do this is to use your dollars wisely. Talk with your wallet and your feet.

Shop at Peets (3 – Neutral) and Green Mountain (3 – Neutral) for your coffee instead of Starbucks. Go to Champs (3 – Neutral) and Under Armour (2.3 – Lean Liberal) for your active apparel. Tell Amazon to take a hike by shopping at Overstock.com (4 – Lean
Conservative) when you can.

Facebook, of course, presents a different challenge. They are the dominant player in their space, and Twitter (2.1 – Lean Liberal) is no better at representing your values. You can still stand up to them by e-mailing CEO Mark Zuckerberg and urging him to
stand up for true diversity – not of race or sex, but of thought. Tell him that keeping conservatives off of Facebook hurts his bottom line and even more importantly violates the social media principle of open and free sharing of ideas.

The Company Contrast – Google

Each week 2ndVote will be taking a look at a popular company that scores poorly on the 2ndVote scoring system, and then providing some better alternatives for you to easily align your shopping dollars with your values. This series is called The Company Contrast, and the company we will be focusing on today is Google (1 – Liberal).

Google is a search engine and technology company, and continues to be the most visited website in the world year in year out. Google is the parent company of the following brands: YouTube (1 – Liberal), Nik Software, AdMob, ITA Software, and Kaggle. Even though Google is the largest and most used search engine in the world, using their services and products undermines your values based on their continual contributions to the liberal leftist movement.

Google scores a 1 on 2ndVote’s scoring system because of their contributions to organizations such as Center for American Progress, Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, and many more leftist organizations. To see all of the reasons Google scores so poorly, you can click on their company score page here

Fortunately, when you need to use a search engine, but don’t want to sacrifice your conservative values, there are better alternatives out there. Brave (3 – Neutral), and Reagan (3.3 – Lean Conservative) both offer great options to search the internet without funding the left’s agenda. These websites’ neutral stance on issues and commitment to providing quick and accurate web searches is why 2ndVote has deemed them better alternatives to Google.

EDITORS NOTE: This 2nd Vote column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Gillette Comes within a Whisker of Disaster

“Your stupid boycotts will never make a dent in a company like P&G,” one liberal scoffed back in January. Turns out, they didn’t just make a dent. After a string of male-bashing, transgender shaving ads, the parent company of Gillette got nicked so badly, market experts wonder if the brand will survive. Gillette’s CEO insists the radical activism was “worth the price.” Let’s hope so — because so far, that price is a whopping $8 billion dollars.

To most customers, a razor company dabbling in gender politics never made sense in the first place. Gillette used to be “the best a man can get.” Now the company can’t even acknowledge what a man actually is! Things for the brand started to unravel earlier this year when P&G gave the green light to a controversial commercial about the culture’s “toxic masculinity.” The idea, CEO Gary Coombe said at the time, was to reach millennials. Weeks into the flop, even he admitted it backfired.

But instead of ditching its politically-charged messages, Gillette dug in deeper. On Father’s Day, the company finally went too far, launching an ad about a dad teaching his “son” — who happens to be a biological girl — how to shave. That did it. Conservative groups like One Million Moms activated, warning customers that unless they wanted their money to support an ideology Pediatricians call “child abuse,” they’d better find another razor.

Based on this quarter’s report, an astonishing number of Americans did. “P&G reported a net loss of about $5.24 billion, or $2.12 per share, for the quarter ended June 30, due to an $8 billion non-cash writedown of Gillette. For the same period last year,” Reuters explains, “P&G’s net income was $1.89 billion, or 72 cents per share.” At least for now, the company’s executives are refusing to blame their liberal politics. Instead, CFO Jon Moeller found another culprit: Beards. That’s right. P&G is actually writing off its monumental fail on the rise of facial hair. “Lower shaving frequency has reduced the size of the developed blades and razors market,” he tried to justify on a call with analysts.

Some shareholders might buy that, but most shoppers agree — it’s time for companies like Gillette to look in the mirror. Political activism never pays. Just look at the fanatics at Target and Nike, whose stocks took a nose-dive for offending Americans’ basic sense of decency and patriotism. Even so, some companies are pressing forward despite the fallout. Just last month, grocery giant Whole Foods surprised everyone by sponsoring drag queen story hour. Even Nabisco’s most famous cookies — Oreo and Chips Ahoy — have spent 2019 waving the transgender flag. But the reckoning isn’t just coming. It’s here.

So the next time someone tries to tell you that shopping your values doesn’t work, or one person can’t possibly make a difference, remember Gillette. It only takes a handful of committed shoppers to send a message. As former Walmart CEO Bill Simon explained on “Washington Watch,” the “very, very best way you can communicate your concern is with your wallet.” Companies are in the business to make money.

“When [a] company does something that you don’t agree with — or their product represents something that you don’t agree with — the simple answer is to not buy it or not participate. And that’s honestly the loudest voice that a customer can deliver to a company is, ‘I choose not to buy your product.'”

“A three percent change in sales of a company or a five percent change in the sales company will make a huge statement. It doesn’t take a lot of people to stop buying product or to stop going to a retailer or a restaurant — or whatever it is — for them to notice, because a couple of percentage points is win or lose for a company.”

** The Washington Update is taking its own August recess — but we’ll make sure you stay informed and up-to-date with our Action Alerts! You can also keep up with what’s happening by tuning into “Washington Watch” Monday through Friday at 5:05 p.m. (ET) and by downloading FRC’s Stand Firm App. The daily Update will return in September. **


Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.


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EDITORS NOTE: This FRC column with podcast is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Tesla: More Than Just A Car Company

If you know anything about Tesla it’s probably the following two points:

  1. They make electric, semi-autonomous automobiles.
  2. The company is led by controversial billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

A deeper dive, however, reveals some additional information that many individuals may prove interesting, if not surprising, to many.

Humble, Yet Sporty Beginnings

While the South African born Musk (who also co-founded online payment processor PayPal and space technology firm SpaceX, the latter of which he still oversees) has served as the public face of Tesla since 2008, it was actually founded five years earlier by two American engineers – Martin Eberhard and Marc Terpenning.

Tesla’s first electric vehicle, the Tesla Roadster, debuted in 2008 and was far ahead of its time. A prototype of sorts in which Tesla only built 2,450 vehicles, the car achieved performance numbers once exclusively reserved for gasoline-powered sports cars.

0 to 60 in 3.7 seconds.

A top speed of 250 mph.

All with a range of 244 miles on a single charge – arguably the most impressive number.

new version of the Roadster, due in 2020, looks to raise the bar even further on the capabilities of an electric sports car.

Its second vehicle, the Model S sedan, launched in 2012.

Although their main focus is cars, Tesla does have a burgeoning business in solar energy with residential solar roof tiles and panels and their residential home battery the Powerwall.

The company also offers a commercial and utility version of its solar energy and storage solutions.

Although Tesla is first and foremost an automaker, the company, much like its namesake, is just as much an innovator.

To understand where the US’s only fully electric car company has been and their plans for the future, we must answer two initial questions for where the company is staking its biggest claim – what is an electric car and what is automotive autonomy.

What is an Electric Car?

Electric cars come in two varieties – hybrids and battery electric vehicles or EVs. Hybrid electric cars, to varying degrees, utilize both gasoline and electricity to power their engines. EVs are fully electric.

No gas. No combustion engine. Just an electric engine powered by fully rechargeable batteries.

The primary selling point to EVs is zero emissions. It’s an important distinction for the lithium-ion battery-powered Teslas.

Although the company may deal exclusively in high-end, fully electric vehicles, its founding was less as an automaker and more on the principle of creating something that did not consume gasoline.

According to Martin Eberhard:

“I didn’t start as an electric car enthusiast but as a non-fossil fuel enthusiast.” 

In order to realize this early goal, Tesla’s ultimate plan is to control every aspect of production and become a fully vertical electric car company. This includes making its batteries in-house.

What is Automotive (or Vehicle) Autonomy?

Apart from producing wholly electric vehicles, Tesla aims to produce automobiles that one day will be fully autonomous.

What exactly does that mean? Here’s a quick lesson in the six levels of vehicle autonomy:

  • Level 0 – No Automation: Driver controls every aspect of the driving experience.
  • Level 1 – Driver Assistance: Vehicle features one automated system (such as cruise control).
  • Level 2 – Partial Automation: Autonomy includes regulation of speed and lane awareness in optimal conditions (interstate driving, for example), but the driver still monitors and controls vehicle
  • Level 3 – Conditional Automation: Huge leap in technology from level 2 to level 3 with the vehicle able to self-drive in most circumstances, but driver influence is required.
  • Level 4 – High Automation: Vehicle is fully autonomous in most conditions; a driver can still override in certain situations or emergencies.
  • Level 5 – Full Automation: No gas or brake pedals, no steering wheel, no physical driving skills necessary.

Tesla vehicles currently achieve around Level 2 autonomy.

However, the company states that its Tesla Computer chip is already installed on all of their latest car models, and all those due to come after. Significant because, as Elon Musk states:

“All cars being produced all have the hardware necessary – computer and otherwise – for full self-driving. All you need to do is improve the software.”

Translation: The hardware is installed, and the Tesla cars are designed and built to one day drive themselves, but the software, and, really the whole idea of a fully autonomous vehicle remains a work in progress.

Tesla’s First Generation of Automobiles

What isn’t a work in progress are the actual cars that Tesla produces.

We’ve already noted the groundbreaking Roadster, which piqued the curiosity of car enthusiasts everywhere. But the car that grabbed everyone’s attention was the Model S.

After Tesla’s initial public offering in 2010, which generated almost $230 million in capital, the Model S sedan was released in 2012. Running between 235 and 300 miles on a single charge based on the battery options purchased, the Model S represented a leap forward in mass production of electric cars.

In the years following its release, the Model S received accolades from both professionals and car enthusiasts. It was named car of the year by both Motor Trend (2013) and Car and Driver (2015), has been on Consumer Reports Recommended List since 2016.

Produced at an assembly plant in Fremont, California, the car topped the electric car sales charts in both 2015 and 2016. It ranks second only to the Nissan Leaf in total sales (although it’s worth noting the Leaf has been in production longer and is considerably cheaper).

As of today, the Model S has sold over 250,000 units, over half of which are in the US. On its Long Range version, the S can achieve a range of 370 miles on a single charge – the highest level of performance of any current electric car.

In 2015, Tesla launched the Model X crossover SUV. It’s a bit of a misnomer as the X is built on a car chassis, but its styling and function lend itself comparison to SUVs as opposed to sedans.

While not nearly as celebrated as the Model S, Tesla’s crossover still represented a considerable breakthrough for electric vehicles as it was the first commercially available, fully electric SUV on the road.

However, as groundbreaking as they may, both the Model S and the Model X remain out of reach and impractical for most consumers. The Model S ranges in price from $75,000 to near $96,000 and the Model X runs from $81,000 to over $102,000 (not counting electric car incentives or gas savings).

Tesla, though, is looking to expand its customer base.

The Model 3 and Model Y

The entry-level Model 3, which is already in production, and the mid-range Model Y, set to start production in 2020 (although it is available for order), look to bring Tesla into a crowded and highly competitive market segment.

Starting at $35,000, the Model 3 will be in direct competition with the aforementioned Nissan Leaf, as well as the Chevy BoltHyundai Kona, and Kia Niro.

The Model Y will serve as Tesla’s company crossover – an increasingly popular segment within the car industry. The purchase price starts at $48,000.

Compared to the established line of Tesla autos, the Model 3 and Model Y, don’t offer anything remarkably new, except of course for the lower price points.

What they do signal though, is the beginning of a new business model for Tesla, and for the auto industry as a whole – online car purchasing. The move will pit Tesla against the more traditional dealership-driven car buying method, which has been protected by state laws for decades.

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety president Rosemary Shahan elaborates on what the change would mean for future customers:

“What Tesla is proposing is actually consumer-friendly. It gives you more of an opportunity to take control of the action, and you’re not on the dealer’s turf.” 

Although it does mean lost jobs for some at Tesla, according to a memo Musk sent to employees, the ultimate goal is affordability:

“Unfortunately, this means that some jobs will be impacted or transitioned to other areas of the business. This is a hard decision, but it [store closings] is necessary to make our cars more affordable.”

Tesla’s Future

Much like the transition to online-only vehicle sales and bringing battery production in-house, there is only one word that aptly describes Tesla’s outlook for the future – ambitious.

For starters, Tesla has plans to increase its already expansive network of superchargers, the electric car equivalent of a gas station. In doubling its network, as well as releasing a next-gen version, the plans are to have superchargers close to 95% of the population in “active” markets – read: where a lot Tesla’s have been purchased.

Next up is the bold claim from Musk (which he has a habit of making) is that Tesla plans on having a full network of robotaxis available at some point in 2020. In Musk’s words:

“I feel very confident predicting that there will be autonomous robotaxis from Tesla next year — not in all jurisdictions because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere. From our standpoint, if you fast forward a year, maybe a year and three months, but next year for sure, we’ll have over a million robotaxis on the road. The fleet wakes up with an over the air update; that’s all it takes.”

Finally, it’s worth noting that Tesla even has plans for its first truck, which would ultimately match its offerings with every other major manufacturer. Musk called the new vehicle a “cyberpunk truck” at a recent shareholders meetings.

From a sports car to a pick-up truck and all-electric points in between, Tesla has indeed made the transition from car maker to innovator.  Not too bad for a company that started merely as a means to save a few fossil fuels.

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EDITORS NOTE: This PartCatalog.com column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

Note to Bank of America: Some companies don’t scare easily

Leftists are at it again – declaring that corporate America must bow in every way to their agenda or face their wrath. In this case, online activists and some staff at Wayfair (3.3 – Lean Conservative) and Ogilvy (3 – Neutral) have demanded that their leadership stop doing business with U.S. agencies which house immigrant children separated at the border.

Twitter warriors and activist employees already notched a victory – Bank of America (1 – Liberal) stopped financing private detention centers in June. But Ogilvy’s CEO isn’t backing down. Via Buzzfeed, John Seifert pointed out that:

  1. The company has worked with the federal government for decades in various capacities.
  2. The company has worked with many brands which are associated with controversies – from tobacco companies to Coca-Cola to BP after the latter’s 1999 oil spill.
  3. His primary duty is to ensure that Ogilvy survives and thrives during and after his time as CEO.

Seifert noted that Ogilvy’s contracted duty is to help U.S. Customs and Border Protection find qualified staff. Ogilvy is not involved in agency policies or supporting the Trump administration. It is simply doing what it does best – advertising.

Wayfair likewise refused to be cowed. Ranking a 3.3 on the 2ndVote scale, its executive leadership said in a statement that the company follows its obligation to fulfill lawful orders for its furniture. Ironically, opponents of Wayfair’s federal contract say that the company should protest horrible conditions…by not providing furniture for migrant children to sit and lay on. #TwitterLogic

It’s not just Wayfair and Ogilvy which are standing up against these protests. Even leftist-leaning companies like Microsoft (1 – Liberal) and Amazon (1.3 – Liberal) are refusing to stop doing business with the U.S. government despite employee protests.

As elected officials decide on America’s border policies, we urge you to use your second vote to let Bank of America’s CEO know that his cowardice isn’t appreciated – and let leaders at Wayfair, Ogilvy, Amazon, and Microsoft know that you appreciate them doing their jobs instead of engaging in tacit or explicit political action.

You can do this in two ways:

First, e-mail the CEOs who are being politically neutral business leaders. Let them know that you appreciate them standing up to their activist employees and Twitter warriors. Then let Bank of America’s CEO know that you oppose his cowardice.

Second, shop your values. Shop at Wayfair. Let them know in the most important way – with your money – that you value the stand they’ve taken. Be sure to check out their score and all of the other company scoreswhich 2ndVote has compiled so you can make the most informed consumer decisions.

The 2ndVote website allows you to easily communicate directly to any company scored on their individual score page. Take the time to thank companies that focus on business and not social activism, and ask the companies who pander to the radical anti-American agenda that you want them to stop and just provide their good, or services.

Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah – nshah@wayfair.com

Ogilvy CEO John Seifert – john.seifert@ogilvy.com

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos – jeff@amazon.com

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella – satyan@microsoft.com

Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan – brian.t.moynihan@bankofamerica.com

EDITORS NOTE: This 2nd Vote column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

The Progressive Caucus’ push for a $15 Minimum Wage using Lies and Half Truths

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (which includes the four members of The Squad) sent out an email titled “JUST IN: Florida Minimum Wage update →.” The email targets U.S. Senators demanding that they bring up the Raise the Wage Act for a vote. The Raise the Wage Act has already passed by the House of Representatives.

There appear to be some white lies and half truths in the Progressive Caucus email. The email quotes a Common Dreams article stating:

A $15 minimum wage would reduce household and child poverty while increasing worker productivity and retention rates.

Sounds good until you look at the Congressional Budget Office report “The Effects on Employment and Family Income of Increasing the Federal Minimum Wage.” The CBO report states:

Effects of the $15 Option on Employment and Income. According to CBO’s median estimate, under the $15 option, 1.3 million workers who would otherwise be employed would be jobless in an average week in 2025. (That would equal a 0.8 percent reduction in the number of employed workers.) CBO estimates that there is about a two-thirds chance that the change in employment would lie between about zero and a reduction of 3.7 million workers. [Emphasis added]

The Bernie Sanders Effect

Senator Bernie Sanders, a member of the Progressive Caucus, has been pushing Senator McConnell to bring the Raise the Wage Act to the Senate floor for a vote. At the same time we have learned that Senator Sanders doesn’t pay his campaign staff a $15 minimum wage. According to their contract with the Sander’s campaign his field workers get an annual salary of $36,000, which is $15 an hour for a normal work week. But Sander’s staff complained that they are putting in 60 hour work weeks, which means they are making $13 an hour.

According to Vox Sanders got away with this bate and switch by making his field staff salaried and therefore not eligible for overtime pay. In a Vox column titled “The controversy over Bernie Sanders’s low-paid field staffers, explained. A moralist gets a taste of his own medicine” Matthew Yglesias notes:

But capitalism abhors a vacuum, so over time, more and more low-paid workers found themselves in the category of being salaried and ineligible for overtime. The Obama administration tried to tackle this with a Labor Department regulation mandating overtime for anyone earning less than $47,000, but it was challenged in court and the Trump administration elected not to defend the rule, instead writing a new rule that set the threshold at $35,000. At an annual salary just below that threshold, Sanders’s field staff would be collecting lots of overtime and thus earning more than $36,000, but instead, their salary was pegged (perhaps not coincidentally) to be just above the exempt threshold.

This is what I call the Bernie Sander effect – do as I say, not as I do.

Conclusion

Senator Bernie Sanders has proved what economists have been saying and now even Vox confirms,

“Beyond the question of campaign optics, however, this is exactly the point that opponents of minimum wage increases are always making — if you force employers to pay more, they’re going to respond by cutting back elsewhere.”

Bernie cut his own campaign staff’s hours understanding that a guaranteed minimum wage, while raising income for some, will cause others to lose income and their jobs. Senator Sanders is playing both sides against the middle. In this case passage of the Raise the Wage Act can, according to the CBO, cause as as many as 3.7 million workers to lose their jobs.

Are you feeling the Bern?

© All rights reserved.

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A HISTORY LESSON: The Democratic Party’s ‘Squad’ and the American ‘Union of Russian Workers’

I received a petition from the Congressional Progressive Caucus titled “‘Right to Work’ laws are WRONG (read why).” The ninety-seven members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus include: Representatives Ilhan Omar (Whip), Rashida Tlaib (Special Order Hour Convener), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley (a.k.a. The Squad) and Senator Bernie Sanders.

The Progressive Caucus email states:

Republican “Right to Work” laws weaken the voices of working people and ensure that their wages are kept low. All they do is INCREASE the power of corporations, while LIMITING the power of workers to join unions.

[ … ]

So we’re asking 500 Progressives from each state to sign on and tell Congress to ban Right to Work laws.

You’ve been chosen to sign for Florida. Sign on immediately:

TELL CONGRESS: BAN RIGHT TO WORK LAWS →

Listen, unions bring justice and dignity to the workplace.

They allow individual employees to organize and protect their rights on the job.

They grant workers the power to advocate for themselves.

And they even the playing field between corporations and their employees.

But Republicans don’t care about all of the benefits of unions. Their main concern is giving even more power to giant companies and diminishing the voices of working Americans in our democracy.

As Progressives, we believe this is WRONG.

Currently 27 states and Guam have given workers a choice when it comes to union membership. Why is the Congressional Progressive Caucus pushing against right to work laws in states like Florida?

History may give us the answer.

The Role of the Labor Unions in the Russian Revolution.

In 1920 the Marxists Internet Archive published a paper written by A. Lozovsky titled “The Role of the Labor Unions in the Russian Revolution.” The Forward notes:

Comrade Lozovsky says that “it is impossible to accomplish a social revolution outside of the unions or against their will.” Lenin has also said that the Bolshevist Revolution could not have lasted two weeks without the aid of the unions.

[ … ]

It can safely be stated that had the Spartacists in Germany had a predominant influence in the labor movement, Germany would be a Soviet Republic by now. This points out the way for action in the American labor movement. Stress should be laid on revolutionary work in the unions that group the mass of the industrial proletariat.

We must have the unions not only during the period of actual combat with the capitalists and their governments but even after the Dictatorship shall have been established. The function of the unions as organs of disciplined and efficient production and distribution must be broadened and much of the task of Communist reconstruction and responsibility for the running of the industrial apparatus given into the unions.

The lesson from the Russian Revolution, which is so aptly put by Comrade Lozovsky is that the unions, being the natural grouping of the workers as producers, which develop the class consciousness and militancy of the workers, develop at the same time their sense of responsibility and discipline, preparing them for the difficult task of organizing production and exchange in the Communist society. [Emphasis added]

Read the full Marxists Internet Archive document here.

In a document titled “The Russian Workingmen’s Association, sometimes called the Union of Russian Workers (What It Is and How It Operates). [A Bureau of Investigation Internal Report]” dated April 8, 1919 by Edgar B. Speer we may find the answer.

Just as the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) were socialists and the Russian Social Democratic Workers’ party (Rossiiskaia sotsial-demokraticheskaia rabochaia partiia, or RSDRP) was Marxist so too were the roots of the Union of Russian Workers.

According to the Speer report:

From the 6th to the 9th of January, 1919, the 2nd Convention of the Russian Colonies was held in New York City. One hundred twenty-three delegates participated in the convention and they represented 33,975 Russians, according to the Soviet of Workingmen’s Deputies of the US and Canada Weekly. The independent element was represented by 60 delegates; Union of Russian Workers, 49; Socialists, 9; Industrial Workers of the World, 2; and Anarchists, 3. During the convention, Peter Bianki, who represented the Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada and the Anarchists, declared from the convention floor: “The Union of Russian Workers deny any form of power and Government because where Government begins, Revolution ends and where there is Revolution there is no place for Government.” Bianki further declared that the Union of Russian Workers has found it possible to support the Bolsheviki in its struggle against the counterrevolution because the Bolsheviki undoubtedly are the most Revolutionary part of the Russian Social Democratic Party. The foregoing briefly sets forth the principles as they exist today of the Russian Workingmen’s Association, sometimes called the Union of Russian Workers.

Here is the preamble of the Union of Russian Workers:

Present society is divided into two opposing classes: the downtrodden Workers and Peasants, on the one side, producing by their work all the riches of the world; the rich people, on the other side, who have grabbed all the riches into their hands.

Many a time the Class of the Oppressed stood up against the rich parasites and their faithful servant and protector — the Government — to conquer its full Liberation from the yoke of Capitalism and Political Power; but every time it suffered defeat, not being fully conscious of its own final goal and means, by which victory can be accomplished, thus remaining only a weapon in the hands of its enemies.

The struggle between these two classes is being fought also at the present time and will end only when the Toiling Masses, organized as a class, will understand their true interests and will make themselves masters of all the riches of the world by means of a violent Social Revolution.

Having accomplished such a change and having annihilated at the same time all the institutions of the Government and State, the class of the disowned must establish the Society of Free Producers, aiming at satisfying the needs of every individual person who, on its side, is giving to the Society their labor and their knowledge.

For the attainment of these aims, we consider as of primary importance the necessity of building up a wide Revolutionary Organization of Toilers which, by conducting a direct struggle with all the Institutions of Capitalism and Government, must train the Working Class to initiative and independent action in all its acts, thus educating it in the consciousness of the absolute necessity of a General Strike — of the Social Revolution. [Emphasis added]

Is the Democratic Party’s Progressive Caucus calling for a revolution against state governments with right to work laws?

The email from the Progressive Caucus stating,

Republican “Right to Work” laws weaken the voices of working people and ensure that their wages are kept low. All they do is INCREASE the power of corporations, while LIMITING the power of workers to join unions.

[ … ]

Republican “Right to Work” laws weaken the voices of working people and ensure that their wages are kept low. All they do is INCREASE the power of corporations, while LIMITING the power of workers to join unions.

Sounds very much like the Union of Russian Workers of the United States and Canada and the Anarchists, who declared from their convention floor: “The Union of Russian Workers deny any form of power and Government because where Government begins, Revolution ends and where there is Revolution there is no place for Government.”

As Speer concluded in his report,

The Russian Workingmen’s Association as it exists today is divided between the advocates of Anarchist-Syndicalism and Anarchist-Communism.

It seems that history is repeating itself. The Democratic Party Progressive Caucus uses the same rhetoric as did the Union of Russian Workers.

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Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar Compares Anti-Israel ‘BDS Movement’ to the Boston Tea Party?

The Democrat Socialist Congress has been infected by a Socialist, Antisemitic and Anti Israel Movement.

Make no mistake about it the Democratic Congress has been infected by a virulent antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment that is spreading through the Democratic caucus like a cancer. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar together with co-sponsors Reps. Jon Lewis and Rashida Tlaib have joined Omar in her pro-BDS resolution. They are only the tip of the Democratic socialist, antisemitic and anti Israel iceberg that infects the Democrats. There are many other Democratic members of the House who share their views. If you listen to the Democrat candidates seeking the presidential nomination it is clear this group is literally creating the agenda.

History tells us this is the way fascism can take over a country. The Nazi Party sold itself as the National Socialist Workers Party. In Russia the communists called themselves the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party. In America the Socialists call themselves the Democratic Socialist Party. The virulent thread of antisemitism is always present in the march to fascism.

The 2020 elections are important for all Americans. But for Jews if history is a prognosticator of the future it may be the beginning of a life or death struggle for them. The Jewish people have always been the canary in the mine shaft. Every fascist movement starts with an attack on the Jewish people wherever they are. No country is immune from fascism. Do not ignore this socialist antisemitic-anti Israel movement. To all Americans especially Jewish Americans, you do so at your peril.

Notorious Anti-Israel Propagandist Ilhan Omar Just Compared BDS Movement to the Boston Tea Party

By Joe Setyon

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar on Wednesday appeared to draw parallels between the famed 1773 Boston Tea Party and the anti-Israel Boycott, Divest, Sanctions movement.

Omar’s comments came the same week she announced a pro-BDS resolution “affirming that all Americans have the right to participate in boycotts in pursuit of civil and human rights at home and abroad, as protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution,” as The Jerusalem Post noted.

According the BDS website, the movement claims “Israel is occupying and colonising Palestinian land, discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes.”

Read full article.

The Trump Stealth Engine Fueling The Economic Boom

Deregulation is about the most wonky, least click-baity topic there is. It also may be the single biggest reason for the ongoing economic successes of the Trump administration — probably even more than the tax reform package, valuable as that was.

But almost nobody knows about this stealth economic engine and only a few of us continually mention it when referring to the economic powerhouse. Everything else, everything else gets coverage in the Trump administration whether it should or not. But not deregulation. It’s both boring and effective — which combine to make it totally un-newsy.

Which is a shame, because this is an area that Trump can take total credit for and is good for virtually every American — from homeowner, to middle class working stiff to small business owner to exporter. Everyone benefits from a lighter boot on the throat.

In the big picture, regulatory costs either force businesses to pass the costs on to consumers in the form of higher prices or, if the business is an exporter, to squeeze down wages to stay competitive. It also sucks money out of innovation possibilities, costing an unknown and unknowable amount in new products and higher qualities of life.

Generally, environmentalists and environmental journalists around the country (who are basically as much activists as the environmental activists they cover) portray every regulatory rollback as destroying the environment, polluting the air and water and causing the extinction of wildlife. And, of course, the great unknown boogeyman, climate change. Further, they also impugn the motive as giving in to lobbyists.

The White House’s Council of Economic Advisers recently studied 20 regulations that were either repealed by the administration, or are opposed and may be repealed. These generally dealt with labor rules and internet access and were piled on by the Obama administration.

In a straightforward (sort of) cost-benefit analysis, the study concluded that these 20 regulations came to a net cost to the economy of $235 billion — or just more than 1 percent of the national GDP. When impacts can be seen in the gigantic national GDP number, even in a small way, then we have something meaningful.

The report also found that if all 20 regulations are dumped, the average annual gains per American household five years out would be about $3,100.

Now, a major caveat. Any study like this necessarily needs to make some assumptions, and those assumptions are going to drive the final numbers. When assumptions are made by politically motivated players in Washington, D.C., it is not unreasonable for critics to question them. And they do.

Not much, because of course there has been virtually no coverage of this report.

But probably most telling is that the critics — generally people from the Obama administration — do not deny there are net beneficial numbers for the national economy and for individual wage-earners. They just question these specific numbers.

Fair enough. But let’s recall one point. These are only 20 regulations. Presumably these are impact regulations, but the Trump administration bounced 124 “significant” regulations off the books in its first two years, while adding 17. There were hundreds more that are not considered “significant” but can add up. This report measured just 20.

The impacts on the economy, wages and consumer prices is very difficult to estimate, but they are undoubtedly substantial and playing a huge role in 224,000 new jobs created in June, more than 10 years into a now-record recovery, increasing wages, keeping inflation low and maintaining an absolutely rocking economy.

Just don’t expect to read much about this huge stealth effect in the media.

EDITORS NOTE: This Revolutionary Act column is republished with permission. All rights reserved.

41 Inconvenient Truths on the “New Energy Economy”

Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem.” He’s right.

A week doesn’t pass without a mayor, governor, policymaker or pundit joining the rush to demand, or predict, an energy future that is entirely based on wind/solar and batteries, freed from the “burden” of the hydrocarbons that have fueled societies for centuries. Regardless of one’s opinion about whether, or why, an energy “transformation” is called for, the physics and economics of energy combined with scale realities make it clear that there is no possibility of anything resembling a radically “new energy economy” in the foreseeable future. Bill Gates has said that when it comes to understanding energy realities “we need to bring math to the problem.”

He’s right. So, in my recent Manhattan Institute report, “The New Energy Economy: An Exercise in Magical Thinking,” I did just that.

Herein, then, is a summary of some of the bottom-line realities from the underlying math. (See the full report for explanations, documentation, and citations.)

1. Hydrocarbons supply over 80 percent of world energy: If all that were in the form of oil, the barrels would line up from Washington, D.C., to Los Angeles, and that entire line would grow by the height of the Washington Monument every week.

2. The small two-percentage-point decline in the hydrocarbon share of world energy use entailed over $2 trillion in cumulative global spending on alternatives over that period; solar and wind today supply less than two percent of the global energy.

3. When the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to just one-third of Europe’s per capita level, global demand rises by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.

4. A 100x growth in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on the roads by 2040 would displace five percent of global oil demand.

5. Renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand “only” ten-fold.

6. Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.

7. Eliminating hydrocarbons to make U.S. electricity (impossible soon, infeasible for decades) would leave untouched 70 percent of U.S. hydrocarbons use—America uses 16 percent of world energy.

8. Efficiency increases energy demand by making products & services cheaper: since 1990, global energy efficiency improved 33 percent, the economy grew 80 percent and global energy use is up 40 percent.

9. Efficiency increases energy demand: Since 1995, aviation fuel use/passenger-mile is down 70 percent, air traffic rose more than 10-fold, and global aviation fuel use rose over 50 percent.

10. Efficiency increases energy demand: since 1995, energy used per byte is down about 10,000-fold, but global data traffic rose about a million-fold; global electricity used for computing soared.

11. Since 1995, total world energy use rose by 50 percent, an amount equal to adding two entire United States’ worth of demand.

12. For security and reliability, an average of two months of national demand for hydrocarbons are in storage at any time. Today, barely two hours of national electricity demand can be stored in all utility-scale batteries plus all batteries in one million electric cars in America.

13. Batteries produced annually by the Tesla Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory) can store three minutes worth of annual U.S. electric demand.

14. To make enough batteries to store two day’s worth of U.S. electricity demand would require 1,000 years of production by the Gigafactory (world’s biggest battery factory).

15. Every $1 billion in aircraft produced leads to some $5 billion in aviation fuel consumed over two decades to operate them. Global spending on new jets is more than $50 billion a year—and rising.

16. Every $1 billion spent on data centers leads to $7 billion in electricity consumed over two decades. Global spending on data centers is more than $100 billion a year—and rising.

17. Over a 30-year period, $1 million worth of utility-scale solar or wind produces 40 million and 55 million kWh respectively: $1 million worth of shale well produces enough natural gas to generate 300 million kWh over 30 years.

18. It costs about the same to build one shale well or two wind turbines: the latter, combined, produces 0.7 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) per hourthe shale rig averages 10 barrels of oil per hour.

19. It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.

20. Cost models for wind and solar assume, respectively, 41 percent and 29 percent capacity factors (i.e., how often they produce electricity). Real-world data reveal as much as ten percentage points less for both. That translates into $3 million less energy produced than assumed over a 20-year life of a 2-MW $3 million wind turbine.

21. In order to compensate for episodic wind/solar output, U.S. utilities are using oil- and gas-burning reciprocating engines (big cruise-ship-like diesels); three times as many have been added to the grid since 2000 as in the 50 years prior to that.

22. Wind-farm capacity factors have improved at about 0.7 percent per year; this small gain comes mainly from reducing the number of turbines per acre leading to a 50 percent increase in average land used to produce a wind-kilowatt-hour.

23. Over 90 percent of America’s electricity, and 99 percent of the power used in transportation, comes from sources that can easily supply energy to the economy any time the market demands it.

24. Wind and solar machines produce energy an average of 25 percent–30 percent of the time, and only when nature permits. Conventional power plants can operate nearly continuously and are available when needed.

25. The shale revolution collapsed the prices of natural gas & coal, the two fuels that produce 70 percent of U.S. electricity. But electric rates haven’t gone down, rising instead 20 percent since 2008. Direct and indirect subsidies for solar and wind consumed those savings.

26. Politicians and pundits like to invoke “moonshot” language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently.

27. The common cliché: an energy tech disruption will echo the digital tech disruption. But information-producing machines and energy-producing machines involve profoundly different physics; the cliché is sillier than comparing apples to bowling balls.

28. If solar power scaled like computer-tech, a single postage-stamp-size solar array would power the Empire State Building. That only happens in comic books.

29. If batteries scaled like digital tech, a battery the size of a book, costing three cents, could power a jetliner to Asia. That only happens in comic books.

30. If combustion engines scaled like computers, a car engine would shrink to the size of an ant and produce a thousand-fold more horsepower; actual ant-sized engines produce 100,000 times less power.

31. No digital-like 10x gains exist for solar tech. Physics limit for solar cells (the Shockley-Queisser limit) is a max conversion of about 33 percent of photons into electrons; commercial cells today are at 26 percent.

32. No digital-like 10x gains exist for wind tech. Physics limit for wind turbines (the Betz limit) is a max capture of 60 percent of energy in moving air; commercial turbines achieve 45 percent.

33. No digital-like 10x gains exist for batteries: maximum theoretical energy in a pound of oil is 1,500 percent greater than max theoretical energy in the best pound of battery chemicals.

34. About 60 pounds of batteries are needed to store the energy equivalent of one pound of hydrocarbons.

35. At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.

36. Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).

37. Carrying the energy equivalent of the aviation fuel used by an aircraft flying to Asia would require $60 million worth of Tesla-type batteries weighing five times more than that aircraft.

38. It takes the energy equivalent of 100 barrels of oil to fabricate a quantity of batteries that can store the energy equivalent of a single barrel of oil.

39. A battery-centric grid and car world means mining gigatons more of the earth to access lithium, copper, nickel, graphite, rare earths, cobalt, etc.—and using millions of tons of oil and coal both in mining and to fabricate metals and concrete.

40. China dominates global battery production with its grid 70 percent coal-fueled: EVs using Chinese batteries will create more carbon-dioxide than saved by replacing oil-burning engines.

41. One would no more use helicopters for regular trans-Atlantic travel—doable with elaborately expensive logistics—than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a nation.

This article is republished with permission from Economics 21. 

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Why the Minimum Wage Can’t Solve the Poverty Problem [+Video]

“A higher minimum wage is sold as a way to help millions out of poverty. The reality is that it only benefits a small minority to the cost of everyone else.” – Paul Boyce


If wages for those at the bottom are high, you may naturally expect low poverty rates. No matter how you define it, higher wages would most logically relieve poverty levels. This is also the argument made by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). An increase in the minimum wage may very well reduce poverty in the short-term. However, there will be adjustments. In reality, a higher minimum wage changes the types of people living in poverty rather than the overall number.

A higher minimum wage will help those who have a job but not those who are unable to find employment. This favors more skilled and experienced employees who are generally more productive. To an employer, it is more justifiable to employ someone with experience. They are generally able to produce a greater level of output with a higher degree of quality. At the same time, this creates a trap. To the employee, there is less incentive to move on to more productive and higher paid positions.

What we see is the employee getting paid more. What we don’t see is the loss of their potential output. Not only is there reduced incentive, but there is also reduced opportunity. Many businesses are already moving to flatter business structures. This means fewer opportunities to progress to managerial positions. We are already seeing the likes of Walmart and McDonalds moving toward this kind of structure.

Though employees on the minimum wage are getting paid more, social mobility suffers. For example, research by Neumark and Nizalova found negative long-term effects from the minimum wage. Their study concluded that the minimum wage had two restricting effects. First, it restricts teens and young adults by deterring their employment. This means they are unable to acquire the necessary employment skills at a young age. Second, employers compensate for the higher wage by reducing their investment in training. Once again, this reduces the long-term skills that teens and young adults gain. Consequently, the ability to move onto more meaningful employment is restricted.

Furthermore, research by Clemens and Wither also found significant declines in economic mobility as a result of the minimum wage. Their study reiterates the conclusions of Neumark and Nizalova. The reduction in upward mobility is largely due to the reduction in opportunities for accumulating work experience.

The minimum wage reduces social mobility, but does it reduce poverty? Media outlets like CNBC are quick to highlight that the minimum wage hasn’t kept up with inflation. If it had, it would be nearly $11. So the minimum wage has lost much of its value since its peak in 1968. If there were a link between the minimum wage and poverty, we would expect higher poverty rates today. However, the opposite is true.

The African-American poverty rate declined from 34.7 percent in 1968 to 21.4 percent in 2016. For whites, it declined from 10 percent to 8.8 percent in the same period. The main contributing factor to this decline is economic growth and the availability of jobs, not a higher minimum wage.On occasion, the minimum wage has been negatively correlated with poverty. If the minimum wage increases in real terms, poverty also decreases. If we look at the increases in 1997, the minimum wage increased in real terms. The poverty rate subsequently fell from 13.3 percent to 11.3 percent in 2000. This was surely a win for the minimum wage argument, right? Well, this came during a period of remarkable economic growth. When people are employed, they generally escape poverty. When jobs become more available, poverty decreases. The economy grows despite the minimum wage—not because of it. In fact, the empirical evidence provides little support for claims that minimum wages boost economic growth or alleviate poverty during downturns.

Data from the US Census Bureau stated that 12.3 percent of the population lived in poverty in 2017. That’s roughly 39.7 million people. Of those, 17.2 percent, or 6.9 million people, were considered “working poor.” However, when only those who were continuously employed over the previous year were included, it fell to 5.3 million. Of those, 3.2 million were in full-time work below the poverty level.

The minimum wage was raised three times between 2007 and 2009. However, this came during one of the worst recessions on record. The last economically stable period where the minimum wage increased was 1996 to 1997. It increased to $5.15 in 1997, equal to $7.87 in 2017 prices. While the inflation-adjusted rate declined, the rate of in-work poverty also declined. The number of workers who were employed all-year round but still in poverty fell from 1.96 percent of the population in 1998 to 1.64 percent in 2017.

The percentage of people in working poverty is at record lows despite the minimum wage remaining stagnant at the federal level. This has not detracted from the prominence of the debate. Over the last 20 years, however, there has been an adjustment among the “working poor.” That adjustment has been a shift toward part-time work. While 30 percent of the working poor worked part-time in 1998, 40 percent did in 2017. The majority of this has come through voluntary means, which is to say that people are classified as suffering from “in-work poverty” through their own free will. Usually, this is because their household income is actually in excess of the poverty level. The minimum wage job is therefore but a supplementary income.

Raising the minimum wage won’t help those on part-time work out of poverty. It won’t help the other 34.4 million, either. Many of those are either disabled, unemployed, or children. In fact, it may very well make the situation worse. Employment is the best way out of poverty, but raising the minimum wage makes it that much more difficult for low-skilled workers to obtain that employment.A higher minimum wage is sold as a way to help millions out of poverty.

Single-mothers and their children are most at risk of falling into poverty. Many require job flexibility to fit around child care. Raising the minimum wage will make it easier for businesses to pick workers who are more able to fit around their working hours, leaving single mothers without employment.What’s more, many of those 3.2 million in working poverty include tipped workers. The trouble with this is that it overestimates the figure. All tipped workers earning below the minimum wage will be included, but so will those who are actually earning above the poverty rate. The number of people in working poverty falls further when we include tips. Furthermore, such statistics do not include cash transfers such as tax credits or housing benefits. Once these are included, the actual figure falls further. So, the statistics provided are often misleading and drastically overstate the problem. This is an important point because a higher minimum wage is sold as a way to help millions out of poverty. The reality is that it only benefits a small minority to the cost of everyone else. Even then, that small minority will see their hours reduced as a result, leaving everyone worse off.

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Life Before the Income Tax: What learnings can we derive from the British and American experience with the income tax?

If someone from the 17th century came back to life, he or she would be surprised, most of all, by the means of transport and communication tools we use now.

Probably, the most familiar things would be hospitals and schools.

Personally, I think that there is something that would very surprise a person from those times even more: the fact that Governments take away individuals’ earnings compulsively.

In fact, contrary to what many people think, income tax is a rather recent “invention,” created—in most cases—as an emergency tax to deal with extraordinary expenses, which later survived as a way to finance the growing fiscal deficits of Governments increasingly mismanaged, corrupt, and in debt.

We will review two significant examples.

After centuries imposing specific, eccentric taxes (e.g. chimney tax, window tax, malt tax, among others), Income Tax was first introduced by William Pitt in the United Kingdom in 1798, and it started to be charged in 1799. The aim was not to finance original expenses of the State but the Napoleonic Wars.

At the time, no other country levied a tax over the earnings produced by its citizens. The United States, for example, would only start charging it, intermittently, some 60 years later, and definitively in 1913.

The non-taxable minimum in the United Kingdom of the late 1700s would be equivalent to £6,000, and the maximum rate was ten percent. Only local income was susceptible to taxing, which was quite logical.

At the time, the malt tax covered approximately ten percent of the Government’s budget.

This first version of the Income Tax was in force only for three years, as it was annulled (logically) upon the signing of the Treaty of Amiens.

Henry Addington, who had succeeded Pitt in 1801 and had eliminated the tax when the peace with France was signed, reestablished it in 1803 when new difficulties appeared with that country. It was kept in force until the Battle of Waterloo. When the tax was annulled again, every document that referred to it was burnt, due to the sense of shame associated with having established and charged this tax.

From 1817 to 1842 there was no Income Tax in the United Kingdom or any other country.

Although he criticized the tax during the 1841 campaign, Prime Minister Robert Peel reestablished it in 1841, not to finance a war but to cover the Government’s deficit.

This time, the non-taxable minimum was over twice the previous one and the rate was around three percent.

The First World War was the perfect excuse to increase the rates. So, they were increased to 17.5 percent in 1915, 25 percent in 1916 and 30 percent in 1918.

For context, the only other country with an income tax at the time was the United States, which, as said above, had reestablished it in 1913, with a rate of 1 percent for incomes above $20,000.

The system was modernized as years went by, but the rising trend did not slow down, with a notorious record of 99.25 percent (yes, that is correct) during the Second World War.

Contrary to what one might believe, in the following two decades there was a minor reduction, but the tax remained over 95 percent.

During the 1970s and 1980s there were further decreases, but not very significant.

Only upon the election of Margaret Thatcher and the growth and increased sophistication of the offshore jurisdictions did the rates start to decrease substantially.

In 1988, for example, after three consecutive reductions, the basic rate was 25 percent.

Nowadays, that rate (the basic rate) is even lower: 20 percent and the maximum rate is 40 percent.

Let’s have a look at what happened on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Although the United States became independent from the United Kingdom in 1776, after a conflict arising precisely from a taxing issue, it was not until 1861 that the country imposed the first income tax. And, just like in the United Kingdom, this was not done to finance the ordinary expenses of the State but the Civil War.

In other words, for over a century and 15 presidential terms, the State was financed without needing to take away from taxpayers a part of their income. Moreover, when it was finally done, those funds were not used to finance original expenses, but a civil war.

And even in that emergency situation (1862), the rate was between three percent and five percent, depending on the income level. That is to say, there were just two tax brackets, as is the case today, for example, in Paraguay.

In 1872, the income tax was annulled, basically due to the pressure of taxpayers, who deemed it expropriatory, like the majority of Congress.

In 1894, the income tax was incorporated again, but the next year, when ruling in the case 158 U.S. 601 (Pollock v. Farmers Loan & Trust Company), the Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional. The exact date of the ruling was May 20, 1895, and the main argument put forward by the majority of the justices was that a direct tax was not constitutional if there was not a proportional way to distribute it among the states forming the Union, based on a census carried out to this end. The decision was made with five votes in favor and four against.

In 1909, the creation of this tax was proposed again, and in the presidential election of 1912, the three principal candidates—the president at the time, William H. Taft; the former president, Theodore Roosevelt; and the candidate who eventually won, Woodrow Wilson—supported the legalization of the income tax.

The 16th Amendment was introduced precisely to achieve this goal. Paradoxically, Wyoming—now one of the states where non-residents frequently establish their foreign trusts—was the 36th state to pass the Amendment, which led to the tax being in force.

In particular, this Amendment established that Congress shall have the right to create and collect taxes over income, whichever source they may be from, without apportionment between the different states and without the need for a census.

As said above, the tax bracket for most of the population was 1 percent.

So, when did everything become more complicated for taxpayers? With the establishment of the Revenue Act of 1918 (WWI), which raised this tax to 77 percent, a rate over twice as much as that of the United Kingdom.

From looking at the way in which the public sector has been financed in the United States, the following can be seen:

  • between 1890 and 1920, all internal revenue came from foreign trade, in the form of custom duties;
  • between 1920 and 1940, the greatest part of the revenue came from corporate income tax, followed by personal income tax and custom duties; and
  • between 1940 and the year 2000, custom duties tended to disappear, and the personal income tax overtook the corporate income tax.

As mentioned above, in time, more and more countries started adopting this new type of tax, especially countries with growing deficits.

As an example, Switzerland imposed it in 1840, France in 1872, Spain in 1900, Norway in 1911, Russia in 1916, Canada in 1918, Brazil in 1924 and Argentina in 1932.

As a result, inhabitants of these countries began to look for ways to legally elude these unfair taxes, often using structures in jurisdictions that continued to consider these taxes as expropriatory.

In that context, countries that expected (and expect) to charge this tax (which they deemed unethical not so long ago) turned against the rest and accused them of being “unfair fiscal competition.”

In other words, they unilaterally changed the rules and then attacked those who simply maintained the status quo.

Later, they gathered in small cartels (e.g. OECD, G20, and others) to lend more legitimacy to these claims. That is how the first “black lists” of “tax havens” appeared, and how the pressure against them increased.

When they realized that these organizations were not achieving their goals, they started to use other arguments, more amenable to the general public (money laundering, terrorism financing).

Offshore jurisdictions were not created to capture the investments of fiscal residents of other countries, but it was these other countries which drove away their own fiscal residents by creating taxes on their income (first) and their assets (later), taking the tax burden to untenable limits.

Reality indicates that the very concept of “tax haven” was created by high-tax countries which, not being able to compete, tried (unfairly) to get the most efficient countries out of the competition.

As usual, he who does not want to compete is the least competitive one. No wonder.

What learnings can we derive from the British and American experience?

Several:

  • Firstly, there is a possibility that States finance themselves without receiving funds from the income or revenue of their inhabitants (or taxing these).
  • Secondly, until not long ago, all governments agreed that imposing taxes over income or revenue was expropriatory, and therefore could only be done under extraordinary circumstances. To impose this kind of tax was frowned upon, and those who were forced to do so were embarrassed.
  • Finally, were it not for the “fiscal wilderness” there would be no “tax havens”. If high-tax countries really wanted to “vanquish” tax havens, they should strive to provide legal security and reduce taxes, instead of lobbying through discredited, decadent multilateral organizations, which they have been doing for decades without any results.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Panam Post.

COLUMN BY

Hawaii: It’s the Economy, Stupid

by Tom Yamachika, President, Tax Foundation Hawaii

“It’s the Economy, Stupid” is a catchphrase made famous by Bill Clinton when he ran for president in 1992 and won.

Recently, we have been getting lots of news about our economy here in the islands, and none of it has been good.

The national site WalletHub has pegged our economy 48th out of 51 (including DC). We eked out a victory over only Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alaska.

The University of Hawaii’s economics organization,  UHERO, also came out with a somber assessment. “Over the past year,” it said, “there has been a broad slowing of growth across the four counties. To varying degrees, each has seen a falloff in tourism activity and a slowing of employment growth in a number of sectors.”

The Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism publishes a quarterly forecast. The  most recent one for Q2 2019 predicts modest growth in the gross domestic product for the state, with annual increases a little less than 4%.

In the meantime, our county governments are passing record-busting budgets.

The City and County of Honolulu recently passed a budget 8.8% higher than last year, which included tax hikes on hotel and resort properties and in non-owner occupied “Residential A.” The Mayor’s chief of staff was quoted as saying, “The additional revenue will be used to remedy Honolulu’s unfunded healthcare and retirement liabilities, and to prepare us for future rail operations and maintenance.” Prepare us? Uh-oh, it looks like we have more revenue woes to come.

Maui County passed the largest budget in county history, including tax increases in almost all property classifications including residential. The budget proposes to spend $823.5 million, 8.6% more than fiscal 2019.  “The council opted for economic investment in Maui County, rather than austerity,” the council chair stated in a news release. That’s easy to say when the money being invested isn’t theirs.

Kauai  adopted a $278 million budget, a 7.75% increase over the prior year. “With a new Mayor and Administration onboard, the Council carefully set out to provide the Administration with the tools needed to innovatively improve systems, services, and functions Countywide,” the County Council said. Now someone needs to use the tools.

And the Hawaii County Council passed a $585 million budget, which is more than 13% over last year, adding 95 positions. “We’re demonstrating to our constituency and taxpayers that we’re watching the bottom line,” one council member is quoted as saying. Maybe someone needs new glasses.

So, let’s now ask the question. If the economy isn’t growing as much as the rate government is spending, what’s going to happen?

There is an engine in our society which we call the economy. Businesses provide goods and services to people and other businesses. Those businesses can’t do it alone, so they employ people. The businesses themselves need goods and services to perform, and their employees need meals, shelter, and other goods and services. Our tax system takes a piece of each of almost all these financial transactions. So, if our economic engine is running and spinning, our government is taking in money. That taking acts as a brake on the engine, but if the engine is running fast enough it won’t slow down so much. But what happens if the engine is just sputtering along and government demands more anyway through tax rate hikes?

Lawmakers, if you don’t know the answer to that question, just listen to a few of your constituents who were forced to dip into savings, sell household goods or the family home, or even leave our sunny shores for greener pastures—or at least pastures where the taxes are lower. If it gets bad enough for them, they might exact retribution at the ballot box. Like how George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton because of “the economy, stupid.”