Afghanistan: Taliban Eyes Future in China and Russia

Al Jazeera reports about a “non-Western approach” being pursued by the Taliban. The global shift brought about by American weakness should be a primary concern of the Western media, but of course it isn’t. Only the woke agenda is prioritized in news cycles, hastening America’s trend toward economic and cultural destruction.

America has already handed over $7,000,000,000 dollars of military equipment to the Taliban, but the worst is yet to come if trends in the great global realignment are to continue. The Taliban, which has created the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), is doing what it needs to do for its survival and long-term goals. The Taliban, along with China, Russia, and Iran, all seek to survive and expand, while America under Joe Biden and his woke supporters are working to destroy America’s free society from within.

The International Energy Agency has reported an economic windfall for Russia since its invasion of Ukraine, noting that Russia’s oil revenue jumped to $20,000,000,000 in May alone. Russia has also been building a massive new pipeline with China. And it is expanding the International North-South Transport Corridor (INSTC) — “a 7,200-kilometre (4,474-mile) network of railroads, highways and maritime routes that connects Russia and India through Iran.” Allying with Russia and China would be a further boon for the Taliban.

The worst enemies of America are realigning to strengthen their economies, while Joe Biden compounds his failures and “progressives” remain fixated on transgender issues and how to sink Donald Trump. The headlines are now saturated with anything and everything Democrats and their Left-leaning mainstream media cronies can conjure up to try to justify the Mar-a-Lago raid, which was obviously meant to stymie Trump’s 2024 efforts and divert attention away from Biden’s gross failures. The raid was little more than an extension of the Russian Collusion scam against Trump.

America will suffer further economically, and continue to lose more freedom, as will the EU and UK under the weight of the Red-Green axis about which Jihad Watch and others have been warning for years.

As West puts Taliban on hold, Kabul eyes future in China, Russia

by Giorgio Cafiero, Al Jazeera, August 15, 2022:

Monday marks a year since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan after almost 20 years of US occupation.

But the Taliban rulers have much work left to do as they struggle to revive the country’s lifeless economy and address the dire humanitarian situation.

Meanwhile, the Taliban’s international isolation has not helped its cause.

Despite repeated appeals and efforts by Taliban leaders, no country in the world has recognised the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), as the country is officially known under Taliban rule.

The West has demanded that the Taliban ease curbs on women’s rights and make the government more representative as a condition for recognition. The Taliban says the United States is violating the 2020 Doha Agreement by not recognising its government………

Non-Western countries’ approach

It is important to examine how non-Western countries approach the Taliban government. Several of Afghanistan’s neighbours, including China, Pakistan, and Iran, have accepted Taliban diplomats, along with Malaysia, Qatar (which hosts the Taliban office in Doha), Saudi Arabia, Russia, and Turkmenistan. In fact, Ashgabat, Beijing, Islamabad, and Moscow have even formally accredited Taliban-appointed diplomats, underscoring how the Taliban’s international isolation is relative….

AUTHOR

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

Extremism In Defense of Election Integrity Is No Vice

Allow me to introduce you to the nation’s newest ‘domestic violent extremist’. The Republican Secretary of State of Louisiana issued directives to preserve 2020 election materials and to take the state out of ERIC, a Soros-funded voter roll maintenance operation which critics deride as a thinly disguised get-out-the-vote effort for Democrats.  This Secretary of State must now be considered a ‘domestic violent extremist’ under new guidelines from the Department of Homeland Security.  A DHS whistleblower leaked an agency bulletin telling agents people who talk about ‘government overreach’ and ‘election fraud’ are possible ‘domestic violent extremists’ and a threat to law enforcement.  You might call me a ‘domestic violent extremist’, too, because I’ve been talking about government overreach and election fraud since early Tea Party days, and I’m not going to stop, so come and get me.

There continue to be problems with our elections, and we in the grassroots are not going to stop on that front, either.

Mass mail-in voting causes chaos, as Jimmy Carter reported in 2005, but the practice will continue in some places in the 2022 elections.  You mail out ballots to everyone on dirty voter rolls – including dead people and duplicate registrations – and you end up with millions of missing ballots some of which get stolen and voted by bad actors.  Speaking of dirty voter rolls, a citizens group in Michigan found more than 22,000 active registrations for people who no longer live in the state and should be removed from the rolls.

Wisconsin lets anyone order an absentee ballot online, which is a recipe for fraud.  A citizen tester got permission from several people to order ballots in their name and elections officials sent all the ballots to his address, no ID needed.  It’s easy to see how this could be scaled up into major fraud.

Electronic voting machines failed a logic and accuracy test in a recent Colorado county recount.  An elections official falsified machine certification records before an election in New Mexico.  Certification problems have to be fairly common, because I know a grassroots activist who documented shady certification of electronic poll books in my state.

A poll challenger was thrown out of the big vote counting center in Detroit this month for asking too many questions and pointing out that various rules were not being followed. A similar problem occurred in the progressive prosecutor recall effort in Los Angeles this week.  Elections officials threw out 27 percent of the ballot petition signatures, causing the petition to fail, whereas only 20 percent of signatures were deemed invalid in the Gavin Newsom recall last year. So something’s fishy, but election officials wouldn’t allow anyone to observe the process.

Voter fraud continues to be caught and prosecuted, although to a very limited extent relative to the amount of fraud that’s out there.  South Carolina hasn’t had a voter fraud prosecution in 18 years, for example, but Wisconsin has 10 new cases for impersonating voters, voting twice in different states, and other fraudulent activities. A former police chief and a city councilman just pled guilty to buying votes in elections in Louisiana.  Hmm… I wonder if the judge who took the plea is a domestic violent extremist like the Secretary of State.

Finally, Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos squeaked by in his primary, then immediately fired the special counsel he had previously hired to investigate fraud in the 2020 election, bringing the investigation to an end.  The special counsel had found, among other indicia of fraud, up to 100 percent voter turnout in nursing homes, which would include people with dementia.  It’s too bad the investigation won’t be continuing because the Democrats have a long history of committing voter fraud in nursing homes and you can bet they’ll keep right on doing it in future elections in Wisconsin and probably your state, as well.

The Speaker in Wisconsin is Republican. The GOP establishment across the nation, for some strange reason, is just not interested in uncovering election fraud.  They must like losing.  They will tell you their focus is on future elections, not past elections. This is what you typically get out of RINOs, even though there’s no way to fix the problems with future elections unless you understand what went wrong in the past. But Liz Cheney’s crushing defeat should show them they are an endangered species.  My national RINO Hunt Team is on the case and we – and election integrity activists more generally – will not quit until we right the ship and restore free and fair elections in this country, whether the RINOs and the Democrats like it or not.  DHS can’t lock us all up.

Visit The Daily Skirmish and Watch Eagle Headline News – 7:30am ET Weekdays

©Christopher Wright. All rights reserved.

Economics Can Help You Understand Why Warner Bros. Sunk $90 Million Batgirl Movie

Many questioning the decision are victims of the sunk cost fallacy.


Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) recently made headlines when they canceled the release of their upcoming Batgirl movie, starring Michael Keaton, J.K. Simmons, and Leslie Grace in the title role.

Movies get canceled all the time, but what shocked many was the fact that Batgirl was already finished filming. In a statement, Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) explained that shelving the project was part of a “strategic shift.”

“The decision to not release Batgirl reflects our leadership’s strategic shift as it relates to the DC universe and HBO Max,” the statement read. “Leslie Grace is an incredibly talented actor, and this decision is not a reflection of her performance.”

The decision led to confusion and criticism from many. One of the actors in the movie went as far as to call WBD CEO David Zaslav an imbecile.

The response from fans was one of bewilderment. Why cancel a movie that you’ve already spent $90 million on? After spending so much, why not try to make back that money?

Without realizing it, many who argued the movie should be released did so by invoking one of the most common economic fallacies.

People, whether in business or just daily activities, make their decisions based on whether they think the benefits will outweigh the costs.

When a studio greenlights the creation of a movie, the studio heads must believe the benefit they get is more than what it will cost to make the film. If a CEO expects only 100 people are willing to spend $10 for a particular movie, and hiring the actors costs them $20,000, the movie won’t get made.

It’s possible studios may even receive some intangible benefits from making a beautiful artistic movie, but those intangible benefits still wouldn’t warrant extremely high costs.

In a similar way, when people buy stocks, they’ll only do so if the benefit outweighs the cost. If a stock costs you $75, and you’re absolutely certain the stock will be worth $100 tomorrow, you’d almost certainly buy that stock.

So people will do something if the benefits exceed the costs. But it’s important to note that we’re talking about future benefits and future costs. Past costs have no place in future decision-making.

To understand why, let’s return to our stock example.

Say after buying your stock the price actually fell the next day from $75 to $50. Even worse, you now have a strong reason to believe the price will fall to $25 tomorrow. What should you do? Well, assuming your intuition is right you should certainly sell.

While there may be a temptation to hold on to the stock to “make back what you lost,” it’s important to note that if you do hold the stock when it drops from $50 to $25, the final result is that you’ve lost $25 more dollars. The fact that you already lost money does not change the fact that selling at $50 leaves you richer than “riding it out” and letting it fall to $25.

The initial loss when the stock falls in value from $75 to $50 is what economists call a “sunk cost.” It isn’t recoverable and shouldn’t change the decision to sell the stock before it falls to $25. While people may dislike the idea of “selling at a loss,” it’s superior to an even bigger loss.

When people believe they should act on sunk costs rather than future costs, economists call this the “sunk cost fallacy.”

And the sunk cost fallacy applies to movies too.

The question on whether releasing Batgirl is a good idea has nothing to do with the $90 million already spent on production. That money is a sunk cost.

What matters for the studio is whether the release of Batgirl will bring in more money than the release would cost in the future.

So what would be the relevant costs of releasing Batgirl?

First, as IGN points out, WBD might lose out on tax write-offs if the movie is released. But this isn’t the only cost.

Whether company resources are used to put Batgirl in theaters or on a streaming service, those resources could be used to promote and place other projects instead. Each dollar spent making Batgirl available to viewers is a dollar not spent on a different project.

Finally, and maybe more importantly, WBD could have an enormous cost imposed on their brand if Batgirl turned out to be a bad movie.

The “DC Extended Universe” has already experienced its fair share of troubles. Critics and audiences have been disappointed by several portrayals of DC heroes.

From personal experience, I haven’t paid to watch a DC movie in theaters since the total dud portrayal of Superman that was Man of Steel.

I’m not interested in watching a DC Universe that can’t get its flagship hero right. And many fans may decide a bad Batgirl movie is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

So even if DC already spent $90 million producing the movie, what good would it do to release the movie if it alienated more fans than it satisfied?

Although I’m not privy to any insider information, my suspicions are strongly towards this last explanation. The Marvel Cinematic Universe stands as an example of how valuable the comic book movie brand can be, and it’d be no surprise if WBD executives were trying to raise the bar on DC movies to reach that level.

So WBD’s decision to cut the already-finished Batgirl isn’t some crazy mistake where a corporation is abandoning a valuable movie.

The company likely believes the cost is greater than the benefit. And given the recent track record of DC movies, I don’t doubt they’re right.

AUTHOR

Peter Jacobsen

Peter Jacobsen teaches economics and holds the position of Gwartney Professor of Economics. He received his graduate education George Mason University. His research interest is at the intersection of political economy, development economics, and population economics.

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

Cash-Strapped Britons Give Up Pets as Living Costs Soar

The following is a guest post by contributor, Xanthippa Socrates, who’s family escaped from behind the Iron Curtain from what was then, Czechoslovakia.


Cash-strapped Britons give up pets as living costs soar

LONDON, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Stood on her hind legs to greet any prospective owner who might approach her glass-doored kennel, Harriet is a black English cocker spaniel abandoned as a deepening cost-of-living crisis pushes growing numbers of Britons to part with their pets.

She was found running along a busy road in London after witnesses saw her pushed out of a car and is one of 206 dogs and 164 cats currently being looked after at rehoming centres run by the Battersea animal charity.

It is a similar story at other centres across the country – with some seeing record inquiries for dog and cat returns – as the tightest squeeze on living standards since at least the 1960s forces many owners to decide the additional cost of food plus hundreds of pounds in vet bills is no longer manageable.

“We are concerned that’s going to be an increasing reason for people bringing their dogs in to Battersea,” Steve Craddock, who manages the centre in soutwest London, told Reuters.

Read more.

NOTE: in the 1970’s Czechoslovakia, pets (in particular, dogs) were declared a luxury and the tax on dogs was raised to be about the same as my family paid in rent for 3 months for what was considered a large, modern apartment (the building had an elevator and everything – and it was assigned to us before my dad became a political dissident, so the bureaucracy found it difficult to kick us out afterwards). It would have been well over a year’s worth of rent that my great-grand-parents were paying annually for their kitchen/sitting room, a bedroom across the common hall (their only access to running water was in that hall and shared with all the tenants on that floor) and a shared toilet…

And the cruelty people were capable of towards their pet dogs when they suddenly became expensive to keep was, for me, unimaginable, incomprehensible…

Taking the dog out to a forest, tying it to a tree (out of sight of anyone who might report it – or save the dog) and leaving it there. Even Hansel and Gretel had a better fighting chance… And this was just an example of ‘passive cruelty’, not the more active types.

This was useful to the regime because it sowed discord and hate into nuclear families: typically, one spouse and/or the kids were pro-pet and willing to do anything for them, and the other spouse resented the cost (and political stigma attached to owning a Western-style luxury pet) and that would be the one ‘getting rid’ of the pet. It broke the trust between spouses, parents/children and so on.

Destruction of the nuclear family at its most fundamental.

The kicker was that because of the housing shortage, even broken families often had to live together for quite some time after the marriage failed, so, no privacy and spite-spying on one’s spouse was easily accomplished.

Bonus: becoming callous to the plight/fate of the beloved family pet dehumanized the ones doing it/witnessing it, making it that much easier to behave inhumanly to others, including, well, everyone… much like taking in an animal, making the kids become attached to it and then sacrificing it to Allah for Eid does. Different ideology, same methodology for dehumanization.

OK, so the ‘tax’ here is based on food/vet bills, but, while the means are a different shade of green, the effect is the same. By giving up their pet, because the cost outweighs their love, people are becoming less humane, more ruthless and feeling more justified in doing whatever it takes to make their life easier, regardless of the cost to anyone else, even their loved ones.

Of course, not all people will fall into this trap. But those who do become useful tools for the tyranny machine.

Xanthippa Socrates

EDITORS NOTE: This Vlad Tepes Blog column posted by is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Woke Silliness at its Worst: A Non-Binary Joan of Arc

Queering the Maid of Orleans shows an impoverished imagination.


A new play about Joan of Arc, I, Joan, opens in London next week. After all the plays, poetry, novels, and biographies published since she was burned at the stake in 1431, it’s difficult to imagine that anything fresh can be said about the Maid of Orleans,

However, the Globe Theatre, a successor to Shakespeare’s theatre, believes that it has a new angle – a non-binary Joan. Instead of celebrating her holiness (she was canonised by the Catholic Church in 1920) or her martial prowess, the Globe is depicting her as “the essence of transgressive androgyny”.

I, Joan was written by Charlie Josephine, who identifies as non-binary. The play uses they/their pronouns instead of she/her, making a perusal of the publicity rather confusing. But the Globe sums up the play as follows: “Rebelling against the world’s expectations, questioning the gender binary, Joan finds their [her] power and their [her] belief spreads like fire.”

The play treats Joan’s life as a neglected chapter in trans history. “Joan is also part of a long and cross-cultural history of people who have experienced their gender nonconformity as spiritually motivated. Throughout their period in the military, and throughout their trial, Joan remained consistently clear that their gender nonconformity was at the command of God.”

Will anyone find this convincing? Perhaps. According to a survey reported in The Times, of London, the British are ignorant of their history: “A tenth thought Henry VIII had eight wives not six and the same ratio believed Joan of Arc was one of them. A third did not realise Henry established the Church of England, and 54 per cent had no idea William Shakespeare was alive in the Tudor period.”

So if ten percent of Brits believe that Joan of Arc was married to Henry VIII, why wouldn’t they believe that she was trans or non-binary or two-spirit or whatever?

The Globe is committed to a ShakesQueer view of drama. What the playwright and the director see in Joan is a person who was true to an inner voice which told her to be gender transgressive. Gender fluidity is the Globe’s religion. The notes for the play explain:

So when we read that Joan said, ‘It was necessary that I changed my clothes’, what if we were to take that at face value? Joan is telling us that for them, gender nonconformity felt necessary: like something they had to do. It seems clear that part of that necessity had to do with their [her] faith: their God had told them [her] to dress this way, and they [she] felt wholeheartedly bound to follow that command… But this is also a feeling that so many of us, whether we have a faith or not, can relate to: a sense that this next step in our lives is the right one, even if we can’t tell exactly why.

This is, according to the Globe, what makes I, Joan “alive, queer and full of hope”.

In fact, what made Joan’s life full of hope was something altogether different. The historical Joan would have been baffled by the idea of gender transgression. She was completely feminine and dressed in male attire only to protect herself amongst the rough soldiers of the French Army. She had made a vow of virginity and was uncompromisingly chaste and modest. Queer sexuality would have been abhorrent to her.

There’s no point in a literary work which is unable to account for the facts of her extraordinary character and instead makes them up. But in a back-handed way I, Joan may be a genuine homage to her simplicity, wisdom, leadership, and courage. Unfortunately, queering her strange life sheds no light upon these qualities at all.

Joan is one of the most astonishing figures in history. An illiterate 17-year-old peasant girl who inspired battle-hardened men, enabled the coronation of her king, and saved her country from English invaders. And as quickly as she appeared, two years later she disappeared — betrayed, tried on trumped-up charged and then burned at the stake.

The only coherent explanation for this is her unbending faith, not a bogus gender-fluidity. She believed that in obeying her conscience – which often went clean against her own feelings – she was obeying God. That is what gave her fortitude in all her tribulations.

And that is what gave her the peace of soul to bear the humiliation, betrayal, loneliness, lies, injustice, and agony of the second half of her career. She found a serenity in her deep Catholic faith that is simply unimaginable for the snowflakes of the LGBTQI+ movement.

The Globe justifies its bizarre production by asserting: “That is the role of theatre: to simply ask the question ‘imagine if?’” But queering Joan of Arc shows an impoverished imagination. The truly transgressive and imaginative question is: what if Joan really was a warrior for God?

AUTHOR

Michael Cook

Michael Cook is the editor of MercatorNet. He lives in Sydney, Australia. More by Michael Cook.

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

Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God

“Sell not…liberty to purchase power.” — Benjamin Franklin

“Woe to those who decree iniquitous decrees, and the writers who keep writing oppression, to turn aside the needy from justice and to rob the poor of my people of their right, that widows may be their spoil, and that they may make the fatherless their prey!” — Isaiah 10:1-2 ESV 


Today we the people are facing a clear choice—Obedience to God or Tyranny.

The Founding Fathers obeyed God and fought against the tyranny of the English King. By doing so they declared their independence from a tyrannical Great Britain and created our Constitutional Republic.

The Constitution was clearly intended to put power into the hands of the people, not the government. Government can never be God.

The federal government was never intended to be all powerful, rather its powers were specifically designed to be limited as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.

In the story of America’s Great Seal, a particularly relevant chapter is the imagery suggested by Benjamin Franklin in August 1776. He chose the dramatic historical scene described in Exodus, where people confronted a tyrant in order to gain their freedom. Franklin added to his seal the motto, “Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God.

GreatSeal.com states,

Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God” echoes the Declaration of Independence:

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. . . whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The Preamble to the U.S. Constitution

We, the People of the United States are to:

  • Form a more perfect union
  • Establish justice
  • Insure domestic tranquility
  • Provide for the common defense
  • Promote the general welfare
  • Secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity

These goals require a government with the power to protect its citizens. The framers of the U.S. Constitution understood this and included a provision (Article IV, Section 4) that essentially says: The United States shall protect its people from foreign invasion and from domestic violence. And many considered self-inflicted harm the more likely threat to America.

Today we the people are witnesses to a foreign invasion of our Southern border and increased domestic violence and mayhem from groups like Antifa and Black Lives Matter.

America in the Balance

Today America, and everything that it stands for, is in the balance, i.e. uncertain and at a critical stage. Daily we see an unprecedented expansion of federal bureaucratic powers that are a clear and present danger to the Republic.

This “federal bureaurotaocracy” has struck in a small resort in Palm Beach, Florida and by doing so has sent shock waves across this nation. If a former President of the United States can be attacked in his own family home so too can every American citizen, regardless of religious affiliation, political party or ideological bent.

Every American is now a target if they in any way push back against the federal bureaurotaocracy.

While Americans are going to the polls in August to vote in the 2022 primary elections and in November for the midterm elections it is critical for every legal voter to think about where he or she stands.

Do you want control over your life and that of your family or not? This is the question on every ballot in every state in the union.

This is not about left vs. right, Democrat vs. Republican. This is about God vs. Tyranny.

Don’t believe me then just look at the powers to be from the school house to the White House.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.

We don’t need masters, we need servants of, by and for we the people.

Choose wisely who you vote for in August primary elections and then in the November 2022 midterms.

Your life depends upon it.

©Dr. Rich Swier. All rights reserved.

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Fifth Largest Life Insurance Company Reports a ‘Catastrophic’ 40% Increase in Deaths in 2021

Deaths are up 40% among working people. ‘Just unheard of’ the company cites “non-pandemic-related morbidity” and “unusual claims adjustments.” In other words, the vaccine.

Lincoln National Life Insurance Company’s Employer-provided Group Life Insurance policies for employees ages 18 through 64  paid out $500 M in death benefits in 2019, the year before the pandemic,  and  $548 million, a 9% increase in the 1st year of the pandemic,   and out $1.4 Billion, in  the first full year of the vaccine, in which about 90% of the adult population were vaccinated, and which included mandatory vaccines for employees of many companies). The $1.4 Billion in 2021 was a 163% increase over the amount paid in the 1st year of the pandemic.   Lincoln National stated that these increases were due to “non-pandemic related morbidity” and “unusual claims adjustments

Its CEO of One America Life Insurance company, said that “We are seeing, right now [in 4th quarter 2021] , the highest death rate we have seen in the history of this business  — not just at One America.   The data is consistent across every player in that business.   [The increase in deaths represents ‘huge, huge numbers,’ and it’s not elderly people who are dying, but ‘primarily working age people 18-64’ who are the employees of companies that have group life insurance plans through One America]

And what we saw just in third quarter, [and are seeing in] the fourth quarter, is that death rates are up by 40% over what they were pre-pandemic.   Just to give you an idea of how bad that is, a three sigma or a one in 200-year catastrophe would be 10% increase over pre-pandemic . . . So 40% is just unheard of.”

=Lincoln National is a large life insurance company that’s so old that when it was started, the founders actually asked Abraham Lincoln’s son whether it was okay to use his father’s likeness in their company branding. (source: Epoch Times)

BREAKING: Fifth largest life insurance company in the US paid out 163% more for deaths of working people ages 18-64 in 2021 – Total claims/benefits up $6 BILLION

Company cites “non-pandemic-related morbidity” and “unusual claims adjustments” in explanation of losses from group life insurance business: Stock falling, replaces CEO

By: Margaret Menge,  

Five months after breaking the story of the CEO of One America insurance company saying deaths among working people ages 18-64 were up 40% in the third quarter of 2021, I can report that a much larger life insurance company, Lincoln National, reported a 163% increase in death benefits paid out under its group life insurance policies in 2021.

This is according to the annual statements filed with state insurance departments — statements that were provided exclusively to Crossroads Report in response to public records requests.

The reports show a more extreme situation than the 40% increase in deaths in the third quarter of 2021 that was cited in late December by One America CEO Scott Davison — an increase that he said was industry-wide and that he described at the time as “unheard of” and “huge, huge numbers” and the highest death rates that have ever been seen in the history of the life insurance business.

The annual statements for Lincoln National Life Insurance Company show that the company paid out in death benefits under group life insurance polices a little over $500 million in 2019, about $548 million in 2020, and a stunning $1.4 billion in 2021.

From 2019, the last normal year before the pandemic, to 2020, the year of the Covid-19 virus, there was an increase in group death benefits paid out of only 9 percent. But group death benefits in 2021, the year the vaccine was introduced, increased almost 164 percent over 2020.

Here are the precise numbers for Group Death Benefits taken from Lincoln National’s annual statements for the three years:

2019: $500,888,808

2020: $547,940,260

2021: $1,445,350,949

Here are the key numbers for 2021, below, shown on the company’s annual statement that was filed with the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services. These are national numbers, not state-specific:

Lincoln National is the fifth-largest life insurance company in the United States, according to BankRate, after New York Life, Northwestern Mutual, MetLife and Prudential.

The company was founded in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1905, getting the OK from Abraham Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln, to use his father’s name and likeness in its advertising.

It’s now based in Radnor, Pennsylvania.

The annual statements filed with the states do not show the number of claims — only the total dollar amount of claims paid.

Group life insurance policies, in most cases, cover working-age adults ages 18-64 whose employer includes life insurance as an employee benefit.

How many deaths are represented by the 163% increase? It is not possible to determine by the dollar figures on the statements.

But the average death benefit for employer-provided group life insurance, according to the Society for Human Resource Management, is one year’s salary.

If the average annual salary of people covered by group life insurance policies in the United States is $70,000, this may represent 20,647 deaths of working adults, covered by just this one insurance company. This would represent at least 10,000 more deaths than in a normal year for just this one company.

The statements for the three years also show a sizable increase in ordinary death benefits — those not paid out under group policies, but under individual life insurance policies.

In 2019, the baseline year, that number was $3.7 billion. In 2020, the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, it went up to $4 billion, but in 2021, the year in which the vaccine was administered to almost 260 million Americans, it went up to $5.3 billion.

The statements show that the total amount that Lincoln National paid out for all direct claims and benefits in 2021 was more than $28 billion, $6 billion more than in 2020, when it paid out a total of $22 billion, which was less than the $23 billion it paid out in 2019, the baseline year.

$6 billion increase in expenses is something few companies could absorb, but Lincoln National has been working to do just that — by increasing sales of new insurance polices.

In the press release accompanying its annual report, and in its press release announcing the first quarter 2022 results — in which the company announces a $41 million loss in its Group Protection business — it trumpets an increase in sales. For first quarter 2022 that increase was 42 percent. The company also mentions that premiums have gone up 4 percent.

Interestingly, in the press release accompanying the first-quarter 2022 results, Lincoln National attributes the $41 million operating loss to “non-pandemic-related morbidity” and “unusual claims adjustments.”

“This change was driven by non-pandemic-related morbidity [emphasis added], including unusual claims adjustments [emphasis added], and less favorable returns within the company’s alternative investment portfolio.”

Morbidity, of course, means disease. A lot of people are sick.

This matches what I was told by OneAmerica in January in emails following the publication of my story in The Center Square — that it was not only deaths of working-age people that shot up to unheard-of levels in 2021, but also short- and long-term disability claims.

Annual statements for other insurance companies are still being compiled and reviewed. So far, Lincoln National shows the sharpest increases in death benefits paid out in 2021, though Prudential and Northwestern Mutual also show significant increases — increases much larger in 2021 than in 2020, indicating that the cure was worse than the disease — much worse.

Keep reading….

AUTHOR

EDITORS NOTE: This Geller Report is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

FBI’s ‘Election Crimes Coordinator’ worked with Far-Left ‘Democracy Fund’ on Election Administration

“Upholding the rule of law means applying the law evenly, without fear or favor. Under my watch, that is precisely what the Justice Department is doing.” That’s what Merrick Garland said on August 11. But the article below by J. Christian Adams was published on June 30, and it shows the FBI’s delightfully titled “Election Crimes Coordinator” (is she coordinating the election crimes?), Lindsay Capodilupo, coordinating with the far-Left Democracy Fund. Is the FBI’s “Election Crimes Coordinator” also working with some patriotic election integrity group? The chances of that are about zero minus eight degrees.

I had the pleasure of meeting with Lindsay Capodilupo several times during the FBI’s investigation of the Garland jihad attack on our free speech event. At that time I didn’t know that the FBI had actively aided the jihadis, done nothing to stop them, and didn’t even bother to inform us that they were coming. I don’t know if Lindsay Capodilupo knew all that at that time or not. She did, however, on more than one occasion demonstrate that she was abysmally ignorant of the ideological foundations, nature, and magnitude of the Islamic jihad threat, and had all the arrogant complacency of the miseducated. That’s your FBI today. On a good day.

Exclusive: FOIAs Reveal Progressive Money Fueling FBI, DOJ, Leftist Activist and Election Official Coordination–Michigan included

by J. Christian Adams, PJ Media:

A strange constellation has emerged through public records requests of coordination between progressive funders, federal authorities, corporations, state election officials, and leftist organizations.

Freedom of information requests have uncovered oddball and opaque relationships between some state election officials, federal officials, corporations, progressive activists, and those trying to influence the conduct of those same election officials. These relationships extend to junkets that include baseball games, travel, and even data exchanges between state officials and outside progressive groups.

The story begins with a series of freedom of information act requests aimed at a number of states to see if any election officials are tempted to apply for now-illegal money from the Mark Zuckerberg-funded Center for Technology and Civic Life. Such grants and the wild expenditures of these funds altered the course of the 2020 election. (Read The Real Kraken, What Really Happened to Donald Trump in the 2020 Election at PJ Media.)

The FOIAs were submitted by the Public Interest Legal Foundation—with which I am associated—and were aimed broadly at election officials across the United States.

While no election official in a state that now prohibits private funding of elections has applied for new funding, something stranger, and more dangerous has emerged from the public information requests.

In one email, we find that the Democracy Fund—a hyper-funded progressive money source—is organizing state officials and third parties to discuss election administration.

Participants in this Democracy Fund effort include:

Commissioner Ben Hovland on the United States Election Assistance Commission

United States Election Assistance Commission employee Tina Barton

Ebony West, a Democracy Fund employee tasked with “Voter-Centric Election Adminstration [sic], which focuses on equipping local election officials with the data, tools, and connections needed to ensure voters’ voices are heard.”

John Keller, a criminal prosecutor at the United States Department of Justice Public Integrity Section who has gone after Republicans like Maricopa County Sherriff Joe Arpaio

Matt Masterson, a former staffer for John Boehner and now “Director of Information Integrity” at Microsoft and leading their “Democracy Forward” team

Katherine Reisner a militant progressive working for the vote-fraud denier organization States United Democracy Center.

Craig Latimer, the Hillsborough Florida Supervisor of Elections who told us that his office refuses to make any election crimes referrals to county prosecutors

Kammi Foote, sometime wilderness photographer and United States Election Assistance Commission employee

Andrea Abbate of the ZuckBucks Mother Ship, the Center for Technology and Civic Life

Lindsay Capodilupo, the “Election Crimes Coordinator” at the FBI…

AUTHOR

RELATED ARTICLES:

Photos, Videos: More Pictures and Videos from Huge ‘End the FBI’ Rallies Across the Country

Election Integrity vs Election Theft

Pre-Election Censorship

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

DHS Whistleblower Leaks New Joint Intelligence Bulletin on ‘Domestic Violent Extremists’ Sent in Wake of Mar-A-Lago Raid

  • Document lists perceptions of “government overreach” and “election fraud” as red flags.
  • “The threats we have observed, to date, underscore that DVEs [Domestic Violent Extremists] may view the 2022 midterm election as an additional flashpoint around which to escalate threats against perceived ideological opponents, including federal law enforcement personnel.”
  • “Information contained in this intelligence bulletin is for official use only. No portion of this bulletin should be released to the media, the general public, or over nonsecure Internet servers. Release of this material could adversely affect or jeopardize investigative activities.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Project Veritas released a leaked document today from within the Department of Homeland Security which shows how federal agencies are reacting to the recent raid of President Trump’s Florida home.

In the document, the DHS warns of a heightened security risk for federal agents, specifically FBI agents, because of the Mar-a-Lago raid.

In addition to listing potential warning signs for Domestic Violent Extremists [DVEs], the DHS predicts that violent threats may continue to escalate this year.

“The threats we have observed, to date, underscore that DVEs [Domestic Violent Extremists] may view the 2022 midterm election as an additional flashpoint around which to escalate threats against perceived ideological opponents, including federal law enforcement personnel,” the document reads.

The document also appears to state that DVE ideology tends to be aligned with the ideas that “government overreach” and “election fraud” are a threat to the country.

“In recent years, DVEs adhering to different violent extremist ideologies have coalesced around perceptions of government overreach and election fraud to threaten and conduct violence. As a result of recent activities, we assess that potential targets of DVE violence moving forward could include law enforcement, judicial officials, individuals implicated in conspiracy theories, and perceived ideological opponents who challenge their worldview.”

The leaked material concludes with a warning to agents that the public should not know this information.

“Information contained in this intelligence bulletin is for official use only. No portion of this bulletin should be released to the media, the general public, or over nonsecure Internet servers. Release of this material could adversely affect or jeopardize investigative activities.”

READ THE LEAKED JOINT INTELLIGENCE BULLETIN HERE.

©Project Veritas is a registered 501(c)3 organization. All rights reserved. Project Veritas does not advocate specific resolutions to the issues raised through its investigations.

Watch trailer! Beyond Fantasy — Episode 1

Watch the trailer now for “Barely Legal,” episode 1 of our documentary miniseries Beyond Fantasy


Among porn’s most popular categories is the teen genre, which often depicts underage girls.

Amid pigtails, playgrounds, and teddy bears, grown men act out sexual fantasies with performers who are at least 18 in real life, but who are made to look and act like children.

In brazen fashion, this film confronts porn industry creators with the critical question, “Is it ethical to promote the fantasy of having sex with children?” 

Their answers provide an unprecedented window into the soul of the porn industry.


Beyond Fantasy – Ep 1: “Barely Legal” | PORN INDUSTRY DOCUMENTARY

SIGN PETITION TO END TEEN PORN: https://beyondfantasy.com/petition/

LIKE, COMMENT, & SHARE TO HELP! RATE ON IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt21334816…

FILM WEBSITE: https://beyondfantasy.com/

Among porn’s most popular categories is the teen genre, which often depicts underage girls. Amid pigtails, playgrounds, and teddy bears, grown men act out sexual fantasies with performers who are at least 18 in real life, but who are made to look and act like children. In brazen fashion, this film confronts porn industry creators with the critical question, “Is it ethical to promote the fantasy of having sex with children?” Their answers provide an unprecedented window into the soul of the porn industry.

CONTENT WARNING: This series features content that viewers may find disturbing, including images and themes of simulated sexual abuse, incest, and sexual assault. Nudity has been blurred. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.

SERIES SYNOPSIS: The porn industry creates endless images and videos that are consumed by billions worldwide, yet surprisingly little is known about how this culture-shaping content is made-or at what cost. Beyond Fantasy is a documentary miniseries that takes viewers straight into the belly of the beast and brings them face to face with some of the biggest porn producers and performers as they describe, in their own words, an industry that profits from ethical violation, coercion, and abuse.

©Exodus Cry. All rights reserved.

Analysis: 4.9 Million Illegal Aliens Have Crossed U.S. Borders Since President Biden Took Office

The amount of fentanyl seized in July 2022 is equivalent to 469 million lethal doses.


Washington, D.C. — The Federation for American Immigration Reform issued the following statement, as well as a deeper dive into the growing border crisis, based on data quietly released yesterday by the Biden administration:

Earlier this month, President Biden took credit for the July inflation rate being “only” 8.5 percent. Now that July border numbers are finally public, the White House may take credit for the fact that “only” 199,976 illegal aliens crossed our border, down from 207,416 in June. A minor drop in border encounters is not encouraging. Traditionally, numbers drop in the hottest summer months, and last month’s figures actually represent a 325 percent increase over the average number of July apprehensions under the Trump administration. More significantly, July numbers bring the total of illegal aliens crossing our borders since President Biden took office to 4.9 million, including some 900,000 “gotaways” who eluded apprehension and have since disappeared into American communities.

“Roughly the equivalent of the entire population of Ireland has illegally entered the United States in the 18 months President Biden has been in office, with many being released into American communities. In that time, the Biden administration has blamed an unprecedented surge of illegal immigration on all sorts of external factors, except their own sabotage of our nation’s immigration laws. The endless flow of illegal aliens and the incursion of lethal narcotics pouring across our border will not end until this administration demonstrates a willingness to enforce our laws,” said Dan Stein, president of FAIR.

FAIR Border Snapshot for July 2022

  • Since President Biden took office, nearly 4.9 million illegal aliens have crossed our borders.
  • This includes the 3.9 million nationwide total reported by CBP – which includes a whopping 3.4 million at our Southwest border – as well as approximately 900,000 gotaways who have entered the country undetected per agency sources.
  • CBP had 199,976 encounters at the Southwest border in July 2022, including 134,362 single adults, 51,822 family units, and 13,299 unaccompanied minors.
  • This is a 325 percent increase from the average number of July apprehensions under President Trump.
  • CBP has encountered more illegal aliens in just 10 months of FY 2022 than in the entirety of FY 2021.
  • July was the 17th straight month with more than 150,000 encounters.
  • CBP reports that 10 individuals on the FBI’s terror watchlist were apprehended between ports of entry at the Southwest border in July, bringing the total for the current fiscal year to 66.
  • The Biden administration continues its crusade to end the Title 42 public health authority, despite extending other COVID-related national emergencies.
  • In July, CBP expelled only 37 percent of illegal aliens using Title 42, a 7 percent drop compared to last month.
  • 2,071 pounds of fentanyl and 12,989 pounds of methamphetamine were seized at the southern border in July, with much more getting through because Border Patrol agents are busy processing illegal aliens.
  • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The amount of fentanyl seized in July is equivalent to 469 million lethal doses.

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

America First After Defeating RINO Liz Cheney in Wyoming Targets RINO Carlos Gimenez in Florida Primary

WASHINGTON, D.C. /PRNewswire/ — America First Political Committee today declared victory over RINO Liz Cheney in Wyoming.  America First is now focused on removing RINO Carlos Gimenez from Congress in Florida’s 28th Congressional district.

RINO Carlos Gimenez has a long record of supporting radical socialist policy, dating back to his time as Miami-Dade Mayor.

RINO Gimenez locked down and destroyed Miami-Dade small businesses during Covid. Gimenez was also tainted with corruption and ethics accusations including unauthorized business dealings with Communist China.

In Congress, RINO Gimenez has voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical leftists. Gimenez defended disgraced Liz Cheney after she voted in favor of the ‘Sham Impeachment’ against Donald Trump. Gimenez doubled down in defending Cheney after the Republican Caucus censored and removed Liz Cheney from Republican Party Leadership.

RINO Gimenez has openly voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical Democrats in Congress on critical ‘Unconstitutional Issues’ far too many times and continues to support a socialist agenda:

  • RINO Gimenez openly supported and Voted for Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Agenda in 2016;
  • RINO Gimenez also voted for the ‘January 6‘ Democrat ‘Witch Hunt’ against American Citizens and Republican voters;
  • RINO Gimenez voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical Democrats on H.R. 550, to allow the federal government to create a database, track unvaccinated Americans, who could be targeted, segregated, discriminated against, and forced to comply with vaccination mandates;
  • RINO Gimenez voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical Democrats on Anti-Second Amendment legislation HR-8, making it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to purchase, own, carry, and use a firearm;
  • RINO Gimenez voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical Democrats on H.R. 6 for ‘Open Borders and Amnesty’ to over 20 million criminal illegal aliens, which would permanently avoid deportation, obtain a pathway to citizenship, and full voting rights;
  • RINO Gimenez also voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical Democrats to strip Republican Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of all Congressional Committee positions.
  • RINO Gimenez voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical Democrats on the wasteful $1.5 Trillion wasteful socialist spending bill packed with billions in earmarks (Pork);
  • RINO Gimenez voted with Nancy Pelosi and the radical Democrats to codify homosexual marriage into federal law, overturning voter-approved measures in more than 30 states, including Florida, that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

About America First Political Committee

Our mission is to protect the integrity of the U.S. Constitution, promote conservative political candidates and policy that puts America First. Click here to visit America First Political Committee.

17 Benjamin Franklin Quotes on Tyranny, Liberty, and Rights

Benjamin Franklin was dubbed “The First American” for a reason.


Americans remember Benjamin Franklin as one of our founders. That is fitting because he was not just our most famous citizen at our country’s birth, but he was also so much a central part of that birth that he has been called “The First American.”

As a member of the Second Continental Congress, Franklin helped draft the Declaration of Independence. As a member of the Constitutional Convention, he helped draft the Constitution. Both documents bear his signature.

He also signed the Treaty of Alliance with France, bringing the colonies French aid against the British, and the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War and recognized the independence of the United States. He was the only person, in fact, to sign all those key documents.

However, Franklin’s role in our founding has been eclipsed in modern memory by his many other accomplishments. He was a prolific inventor, from his trademark bifocals to the Franklin Stove and artificial fertilizer. He ran his own paper and published Poor Richard’s Almanac. He even published the first political cartoon in the colonies. He founded the University of Pennsylvania, as well as America’s first public library and hospital. His discoveries went far beyond his famous kite experiment, including the identification of lead poisoning and the charting of ocean currents.

Unfortunately, attention to what Franklin said about American liberty has often been crowded out by his other accomplishments. On his January 17 birthday, we should remember some of those inspirational words.

  1. “Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God” (proposed by Franklin for the motto of the Great Seal of the United States).
  2. “From a persuasion that equal liberty was originally the portion, it is still the birthright of all men.”
  3. “Every man…is, of common right, and by the laws of God, a freeman, and entitled to the free enjoyment of liberty.”
  4. “All the property that is necessary to a man for the conservation of the individual… is his natural right which none can justly deprive him of.”
  5. “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
  6. “Our cause is the cause of all mankind…we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own.”
  7. “[F]requent recurrence to fundamental principles…[is] absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty and keep a government free.”
  8. “The more the people are discontented with the oppression of taxes, the greater the need the prince has of money to distribute among his partisans and pay the troops that are to suppress all resistance and enable him to plunder at pleasure.”
  9. “Without freedom of thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech.”
  10. “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government; when this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved, and tyranny is erected on its ruins. Republics…derive their strength and vigor from a popular examination into the action of the magistrates.”
  11. “Sell not…liberty to purchase power.”
  12. “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
  13. “This Constitution…can only end in despotism…when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other.”
  14. “I hope…that all mankind will at length…have reason and sense enough to settle their differences without cutting throats.”
  15. “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes!”
  16. “Ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation to the prejudice and oppression of another is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy…An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy.”
  17. Benjamin Franklin expressed the goal of America’s experiment in liberty when he said, “God grant that not only the love of liberty but a thorough knowledge of the rights of man may pervade all the nations of the earth, so that a philosopher may set his foot anywhere on its surface and say: This is my country.”

As we reflect on current political developments, we should consider how far we are from that goal and how to rekindle America’s liberty.

AUTHOR

Gary M. Galles

Gary M. Galles is a Professor of Economics at Pepperdine University and a member of the Foundation for Economic Education faculty network. In addition to his new book, Pathways to Policy Failures (2020), his books include Lines of Liberty (2016), Faulty Premises, Faulty Policies (2014), and Apostle of Peace (2013).

RELATED ARTICLE: The Marquis de Lafayette: Remembering France’s Greatest Champion of Liberty, a ‘Hero of Two Worlds’

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

The World’s Most Hackable Showerhead Revealed

What are we, medieval peasants? Of course we will hack our showerheads.


Showerheads used to be easy to hack. And never doubt the need to do so. What do we want out of a shower? We want fantastic amounts of water pouring down on our heads, ideally like the waterfall we see in movies and art. At very least, this requires pulling out the government-mandated flow stopper after the purchase and before the installation.

In recent years, these stoppers have become more difficult to remove. Some are downright impossible. A few years ago, I bought an expensive showerhead and spent Saturday afternoon with hammers, ice picks, drills, and the experience ended in total frustration.

So yesterday, I decided to settle the issue once and for all. I sprung for 5 different showerheads – purchased based on what I perceived to be their hackability – and tried it out on each one. I’m astounded and thrilled at the results. It turns out to be ridiculously easy and cheap to bypass the bureaucrats and enjoy a decent shower.

The Background

Bad showers by government mandate are one symptom of a larger problem. Beginning in the 1970s, and in the most stealthy way, government at all levels began to unravel the gains civilization had made over the century in household management. Through regulations, bans, restrictions, and controls, essential domestic functions have been seriously compromised.

Think of all the great advances: indoor plumbing, showers and baths, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, and flush toilets. What would life be like without them? None of us can even imagine. But the government apparently can imagine it because its regulatory apparatus is gradually taking them all away.

To be sure, government once pretended to do good things for us like build parks, boost income, bring electricity to rural areas, and the like. Today, it is the opposite. It sees its role as restricting and tearing down what the private sector creates — for our own good. This is why it is constantly telling us that it must curb our lifestyles. The regulators restrict what we consume, control what we do, crack down on our ability to live a good life.

If some activity is going well, some new item is making life better, some food or gadget is newly popular, you can be sure that some bureaucrat is plotting to restrict its use or ban it. Politicians on both the left and the right imagine that their main role is thinking of ways to control how we live, direct how we spend what money we make, and take away freedoms and rights once taken for granted.

A glorious morning shower is one casualty of this regulatory invasion.

The Showerhead

If you head to the Delta Faucet site, you will see a notice about flow restrictors in their showerheads. “While it is possible to remove flow restrictors from showerheads, we strongly advise against it for several reasons. Flow restrictors for faucets are an integral part of most aerators and it is generally not possible or desirable to remove them.”

Is that so? Of course it is not so. Showers in the old days were fantastic. They covered us with water — hot water — and kept us clean. Then government got involved to regulate how much water the bureaucrats think we should be using. The result was the mandate that every showerhead had to be deliberately degraded. The words on the Delta website reflect fear of government and have nothing to do with reality.

Today smaller manufacturers have found profits in advertising showerheads with “removable” flow restrictors. These are best but you can also remove them from the parts you get at the big-box hardware stores. Once I had to actually take a drill to the thing to make it happen but it can be done. And it must be done or else you find yourself running around in the shower trying to get yourself covered with the pathetic trickle that the government has mandated for us.

You might have some vague memory from childhood, and perhaps it returns when visiting someone who lives in an old home. You turn on the shower and the water washes over your whole self as if you are standing under a warm-spring waterfall. It is generous and therapeutic. The spray is heavy and hard, enough even to work muscle cramps out of your back, enough to wash the conditioner out of your hair, enough to leave you feeling wholly renewed — enough to get you completely clean.

I was just in Brazil, a socialist country. Many terrible things are happening in this country but one great thing never changes. The showers are amazing. Amazing, I tell you! Go to Brazil and take a shower and you will never readapt to the terrible American ones.

Somehow, these days, it seems nearly impossible to recreate this in your new home. You go to the hardware store to find dozens and dozens of choices of shower heads. They have 3, 5, 7, even 9 settings from spray to massage to rainfall. Some have long necks. They glisten and look amazing. Masterful design!

Some you can hold in your hand. Some are huge like the lid to a pot and promise buckets of rainfall. The options seem endless. But you buy and buy, and in the end, they disappoint. It’s just water, and it never seems like enough.

Why do we believe that a showerhead can magically cause us to have better showers? The head part is only as good as the flow, and the flow needs to be as unimpeded as possible. It’s pretty simple if you think about it. All the rest is just marketing.

Regulatory Bite

Here is one example of why your showerhead cannot be good, from the Santa Cruz City Water Conservation Office: “If you purchased and installed a new showerhead in the last ten years, it will be a 2.5 gpm [gallons-per-minute] model, since all showerheads sold in California were low consumption models beginning in 1992.”

And it is not just crazy California. The Federal Energy Policy Act of 1992 mandates that “all faucet fixtures manufactured in the United States restrict maximum water flow at or below 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at 80 pounds per square inch (psi) of water pressure or 2.2 gpm at 60 psi.”

Or as the Department of Energy itself declares to all consumers and manufacturers: “Federal regulations mandate that new showerhead flow rates can’t exceed more than 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi).”

As with all regulations, the restriction on how much water can pour over you at once while standing in a shower is ultimately enforced at the point of a gun. Manufacturers must adhere to these regulations under penalty of law, and to be on the safe side and adjust for high-water pressure systems, they typically undershoot. If you try your showers right now, you will probably find that they dispense water at 2 gallons per minute or even less.

Together with other regulations concerning water pressure, your shower could fall to as low as 1.5 gallons per minute! This is not a modern shower. This is medieval peasantry. Poverty. Pathetic, state-of-nature stuff.

Sign of Prosperity, Gone

A rotten shower creates a rather serious problem for nearly everyone in the country. In the post-war period, Americans fell in love with luxurious showers, just because we could. A long shower with a blasting spray is a sign of prosperity, individualism, and good health. Popular lore holds that Americans are some of the most showered people in the world. If so, part of the reason is that we had great showerheads.

Clearly, the regulators, who regard it as their job to crush luxury and convenience whenever possible, wanted to put a stop to this. That’s the reason for the flow restrictors. Forget all that talk about saving water: these restrictions have a negligible effect on overall water use. In any case, whether we use more or less water should be governed by market forces.

To be sure, some companies have tried to get around the regulations by making models with multiple showerheads. This worked for a while because the regulations, if read literally, only regulate the amount of water a per-shower-head basis. But the companies that make double and triple-headed models have also faced investigation and harassment.

But then what can the government do about the length of showers? After all, there is no real way to regulate how much water we use and pay for. Maybe the shower heads have to have timers on them. And maybe the feds need to put up little monitors in our showers to make sure that we have stopped and started them.

You might say that water needs to be conserved. Yes, and so does every other scarce good. The peaceful way to do this is through the price system. But because municipal water systems have created artificial shortages, other means become necessary. One regulation piles on top of another, and the next thing you know, you have shower commissars telling you what you can or cannot do in the most private spaces.

You Pay for What You Use

And also consider this. According to the government’s own water usage statistic, domestic use constitutes only 1 percent of the total, and that includes all the water we use on our lawns. In other words, whether we use a lot or a little bit of water in our showers means absolutely nothing as regards our nation’s consumption of water. Why are they doing this to us then? Just to spread that sense of obedience and misery, I suppose. But has central planning ever been more ridiculous, intrusive, and self-defeating?

Most manufacturers adhere to the regulations, and the government has pushed them to make their products ever more useless. But savvy consumers know how to get around the problem. Many people now hack their showers — or customize them, if you prefer.

You can take your shower head down, pull the washer out with a screwdriver, and remove the offending intrusion that is restricting water flow. It can be a tiny second washer or it can be a hard plastic piece. Just pop it out and replace the washer. Sometimes it is necessary to trim it out using a pen knife.

Using such strategies, you can increase your water flow from 2 gallons per minute to 3 and even 4 gallons per minute. You can easily clock this using a stopwatch and a milk carton.

Using this method, I was easily able to expand my gallons per minute on each shower in my house to an average of 3.4 gpm, thereby recreating that childhood sense of gushes of water pouring down.

But Which One?

I headed over to Home Depot and checked out their selection. You have to be very careful. There are hundreds of products, ranging in price from $1.97 to this one for $4,249.69:

Fancy, huh? I can’t be sure but I’m guessing that you can’t hack it. It does no more to get water on you than the cheapest one. But it can be intimidating even just shopping. We all want a good shower, and most of us know that our showers are terrible. Surely spending more will improve our lot in life? Surely? Here is the shocking answer: no. It will not be better. It will be fancier but not better.

I bought 5 affordable ones, and hacked 4 of the 5 (the 5th one I destroyed and still couldn’t hack).

There was one showerhead that was the easier to hack. I pulled out the washer and pushed in long-nosed pliers. The flow stopper came right out. I put the washer back in and put it in the shower. The results are absolutely spectacular.

But here is the shock. The right showerhead is the cheapest one they offer. It costs $1.97. It is plastic. Light. Pretty. Easy to hack. Forget the supposed performance rating. Once hacked, this beauty is an 11.

You know the old rule that you get what you pay for? Maybe that is true in a pure free market. But in our regulated, truncated, tricked-up consumer marketplace, illusions abound. Sometimes you are just paying for what you think will be better but is actually not. This is the #1 example I’ve ever seen.

And you know what? I love that I’ve written this article, especially if you follow my advice. You will be thanking me every day for the rest of your life.

Here is my image post-hacking. I used the one tool pictured here and the offending flow-stopping was easily removed.

Conclusion

Government is often working to roll back the gains markets have made over the centuries and slowly unravel the resulting civilization, driving us back and back. Fortunately government is doing this more slowly than private markets are building civilization, which is why we continue to see progress all around us. It’s a race between them and us. How long can we keep outrunning them? I don’t know, but insofar as we are able, we must keep trying.

Hacking your showerhead is a great start. It is a way to be part of the solution. After all, it will only set you back $1.97 and about 10 seconds of your time.

You don’t even have to take the risks of dealing with a black-market showerhead dealers, as in this famous Seinfeld episode.

AUTHOR

Jeffrey A. Tucker

Jeffrey Tucker is a former Director of Content for the Foundation for Economic Education.

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

Rents for One-Bedroom Apartments in Manhattan Hit a Record High of $5,100 in July. Here’s Why

Think your rent is too damn high? Well, taking a look at the latest figures out of Manhattan might make you feel better by comparison.

In July, the average rent for a one-bedroom in Manhattan rose to $5,113, CBS News reports. That’s an astounding $1,000 more than a year ago and a new record high. These levels of rent are astronomical and impossible for all but the most affluent New Yorkers to afford.

But before you blame capitalism or greedy developers, let’s take a deeper look at how rents in New York City got so out of control.

How are rental prices determined in the first place? Well, in a free market, supply and demand interact to reach a price. If there’s far more demand for housing than there is supply in a given area, rents will be high, at first. But those high rents will encourage more developers to come in and build housing, increasing supply and ultimately bringing the price down.

Yet in places like New York City, local governments have made that adjustment impossible through restrictions on supply. The result of artificially-constrained housing supply in a high-demand area is as predictable as it is perilous: high prices and a housing crisis.

There’s a long and complicated history of government meddling in New York City’s rental market. But here are a few of the biggest ways local officials have hindered the market’s ability to provide affordable housing.

Through zoning, the local government has declared that large swaths of the city’s property may only host single-family residences. This doesn’t make much sense in a city with millions of people.

According to the advocacy group Open New York, “Roughly 15% of New York City’s land area is still zoned as single-family-only land, banning apartments or multiple-unit dwellings of any size, including those with only two units.” These restrictions are highly inefficient and prevent the development of large-scale housing, like apartments, that could greatly increase the supply compared to a single home.

So, too, arbitrary restrictions on height limits remain in place on many NYC properties. These force landlords to provide fewer apartments per lot than they’d otherwise be able to, fueling the affordability crisis and pricing New Yorkers out of homes, often in the name of scenic beauty or protecting special interests.

New York City’s government has made it very hard to get approval to build new housing.

“New York City housing permitting has cratered to lows not seen since the Great Recession, and it’s not for lack of demand,” housing policy expert Nolan Gray told me. “NYC [has] had some of the strictest zoning rules in the country, making it hard to legally build much of anything.”

Look, for example, at the below graph showing how much housing (relative to population) various cities have permitted in recent years. You’ll see New York City at the very bottom.

Click here for housing relative to population chart.

With the supply of new housing so blatantly throttled, it’s no surprise that rents have skyrocketed. It’s exactly what the laws of economics predicted, given the myriad government restrictions on NYC’s housing market.

But, unfortunately, many unknowing onlookers may look at the egregious $5,000+ rent rates popping up in Manhattan and blame the market, when, in fact, it is the government’s constraints on the free market that are to blame. They might even respond to the manifest injustice of this affordability crisis by supporting more of the nice-sounding, big-government policies that got us into this mess.

Yet, hopefully, people can look deeper and see the real root causes at play here. Because New Yorkers will continue to suffer until policymakers wake up—and finally free the rental market once and for all.

WATCHBrad debates liberal economist Noah Smith on Dems’ ‘inflation’ plan

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Brad Polumbo

Brad Polumbo (@Brad_Polumbo) is a libertarian-conservative journalist and Policy Correspondent at the Foundation for Economic Education.

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