Frustrating Michael Moore by Sheldon Richman

The filmmaker needs to discover truly radical political economy.

If Michael Moore would study a little political economy he might turn into a potent champion of individual liberty.

As we see in Moore’s new movie, Capitalism: A Love Story, Moore is offended by some truly offensive things: banks engaging in wild speculation without concern for the risk, taxpayer bailouts for banks and other businesses, cozy relations between Wall Street and Washington, politicians getting favors from companies that want benefits from government, and big institutions pushing less powerful individuals around. True, he’s offended by some inoffensive things as well, such as the cut in the 90 percent top income-tax rate nearly 30 years ago. But by and large, what he rails against should be railed against.

(Update: Moore gets the tax-rate story wrong, and I let it get by me. The 91 percent top marginal rate fell to 77 in 1964 and 70 in 1965; this was the Kennedy tax cut — I wonder why Moore didn’t say that Democrats John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were the rate cutters. Under Republican Ronald Reagan, whom Moore wishes to demonize for cutting taxes for the rich, the rate dropped to 50 and eventually to 28 percent. HT: Gary Chartier.)

Had he called his movie State Capitalism: A Love Story, I might be applauding (with some reservations). But he’s targeting the more ambiguous “capitalism,” which he uses interchangeably with “the free market.” He can be forgiven for this, however. Most people would say that the current U.S. economic system is capitalist. Moore has probably heard that all his life. He’d hear if he watched a Fox financial program. Would Ben Stein or Lawrence Kudlow disagree? Moore has also heard Republican politicians, George W. Bush, for example, praise the existing system, with all its deep government interventions, as capitalist. He did this even as he and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former chief of Wall Street behemoth Goldman Sachs, stampeded Congress into passing the $700 billion TARP bailout last year. Moore takes such people at their word: The free market is capitalism, and capitalism is what we have today.

Can we blame him for thinking this way?

Yes, it’s sloppy thinking, and had he been more curious and read beyond the confines of “Progressive” literature, he could have gotten the straight story. But many knowledgeable advocates of the free market contribute to the confusion by exhibiting what Kevin Carson calls “vulgar libertarianism,” or what Roderick Long describes as “the tendency to treat the case for the free market as though it justified various unlovely features of actually existing corporatist society.” How often have you heard a free-market advocate condemn pro-business intervention in one breath, then defend existing dominant corporations in the next — as though they did not arise in the interventionist environment just condemned? Pro-market is not the same as pro-business. If some market advocates don’t understand that, why should Moore? Vulgar libertarianism is a disconnect that makes the free-market philosophy look like a corporate apologetic. It’s done incalculable damage to the cause of freedom, in part by alienating potential allies. Who knows, maybe even Michael Moore.

Aversion to Profit

This may go a long way in explaining Moore’s aversion to profit — at least other people’s. He associates profit with business, which he associates with (state) capitalism. So for him, profit per se is suspect. But he should see a problem here. Does he think he’s exploiting moviegoers when his production company ends up with a profit? Do the co-ops and worker-owned firms he loves exploit their customers when they sell their products for more than their money costs? When two people barter, are they mutually exploiting each other because each gets more value than he gives up? To consistently oppose profit, one would have to oppose all human action, since every action aims at a surplus of subjective benefit over subjective opportunity cost.

Cornered like this, Moore might say he’s only the against excessive profits that capitalist market power permits. But now we’re back where we started. To the extent that intervention hampers competition by erecting barriers to entry — which is the usual effect, intended or not — protected firms are free to charge higher prices and reap more profits than would have been the case in an open market. Corporate power and privilege derive from political power and can’t exist without it. In contrast to existing capitalism, the truly free market would have no legal barriers to competitive entry, assuring that prices and returns are economically justified and not the fruits of privilege. Strictly speaking, entrepreneurial profit in a true market gets competed away because the very process of capturing them reveals valuable information to others and invites imitation. It takes innovation and efficiency — that is, superior service to consumers — to create new profits. Only the State permits business to make profits by withholding benefits from consumers.

But Moore doesn’t know this. What he “knows” is that the choice is between the current corrupt system — and it is corrupt — and some vaguely defined scheme of control by benevolent politicians, which he calls socialism and democracy.

In his movie Moore expresses affection for socialism, but he’s not clear what he means. He never advocates collectivization of the means of production or the abolition of markets. Instead he suggests that socialism means workers having a say in how the companies they work for are run. But why assume that’s anti-free market? He praises worker-owned companies and notes that hundreds of them exist in the United States today. He might be surprised to learn that these things are entirely compatible with the free market. In fact, it’s a perfectly libertarian intuition to abhor being subject to the arbitrary whim of anyone — yes, even a private employer. If government regulatory and tax obstacles to new competition and self-employment did not exist, workers would have their maximum bargaining power and widest array of alternatives. I imagine we’d see more departures from the traditional firm. People used to get their “social insurance” from mutual aid societies. Maybe in a true free market, we’d see a bigger role for the employment counterpart to these public, yet not governmental, organizations.

What would Moore think about a system in which no one could collude with politicians to legally plunder the rest of us for their own benefit and everyone was free to enter into any cooperative arrangements to produce and offer goods to others in voluntary exchange? Michael, that’s the free market!

FDR’s Second Bill of Rights

Of course, Moore naively looks to government to provide things. His movie laments that FDR died before he could see his Second Bill of Rights enacted. Roosevelt wanted government to guarantee everyone a good education, job, home, health care, and so on. Has Moore ever wondered where government would get the resources for this? He can’t really believe that somewhere there’s a massive pot of collective wealth waiting to be distributed. He must realize that the tax system would provide the money. But how can he not know that if government appears to penalize wealth creation with confiscation, less wealth will be created?

Moore is unaware that he commits the “Nirvana fallacy.” This is the erroneous idea that our choice is between the admittedly imperfect world we’re bound to live in if government leaves us alone and an imagined utopia in which benevolent and all-wise rulers oversee and regulate everything. Of course that is not the choice. Moore’s preferred system, whatever he calls it, would be run by individuals whose insight into the public interest would be no sharper and whose motives no purer than other people’s. However, since they would wield political power — which is the legal authority to compel obedience– they would be far more dangerous than anyone in a free market could ever be. He knows how corrupt politicians are. Why does he think different people would run things in his utopia? Does he really want them in charge of everyone’s job, education, healthcare, housing, pension, and the rest? It’s hard to understand why he isn’t uncomfortable with the idea of the people being tenants and employees of the State.

Whether he realizes it or not, Moore favors a system in which an elite necessarily would make critical decisions for the rest of us. He’d be incredulous to hear that, but if he ever comes to understand it, libertarians might end up with an unlikely ally.

ABOUT SHELDON RICHMAN

Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and TheFreemanOnline.org, and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America’s Families.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of Michael Moore is by Andrew McFarlane. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

Beyond Crony Capitalism by Sandy Ikeda

Some libertarians don’t like the term “crony capitalism.” They complain that cronyism—the use of political power for private gain—is incompatible with capitalism, so why conflate the two terms? While they may have a point, I’d like to look beyond the issue of terminology and focus on the underlying phenomenon: The problems with interventionism go far beyond cronyism.

On Facebook and other places, libertarians talk among themselves with a heavy, almost exclusive focus on cronyism over other forms of interventionism. It troubles me.

What Is Crony Capitalism?

The idea behind crony capitalism is what we used to call “special-interest politics” or the more technical “rent seeking.” The politically powerful, or those with connections to them, use that power to channel wealth from other people to themselves.

Examples of cronyism aren’t hard to find, of course. Here in New York, our new mayor wants to tax high-income earners to fund pre-kindergarten programs in public schools in order to reward teachers’ unions for their help in getting him elected. Erecting trade barriers to protect the textile industry has a long and dishonorable history. And aspects of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) seem to have been designed to privilege well-established insurance companies, who can afford to lobby, at the expense of smaller ones who can’t.

I don’t want to go over this well-trod ground again. I raise the issue of cronyism for two reasons.

Imputing Bad Motives

First, the charge of cronyism or political opportunism assumes that those who favor interventionism do so for narrowly selfish, even venal reasons. Painting your opponents as crony capitalists puts you on the side of virtue—a free-market good guy who really wants to promote the general welfare.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m certainly not saying that free-market advocates don’t have good intentions. What I am saying is that imputing bad intentions to your opponents from the get-go may be fitting for a street fight—and I know there sometimes are street fights—but it’s a bad idea if you want constructive dialogue or debate.

F. A. Hayek explained that he dedicated his great book The Road to Serfdom “To Socialists of All Parties” not to mock his opponents but to open a conversation with them. Like his mentor Ludwig von Mises, he typically chose to treat people with whom he disagreed as men and women of goodwill. In other words, he refrained from assuming his adversaries were intellectually dishonest, unconquerably stupid, or plain evil. I know many of you will say, “But these people are evil!” Sorry, I don’t go there because it’s unnecessary, and if you want to know why, read this and this. When you foreclose honest dialogue, bullets replace ideas.

Ideas Inform Interests

Ultimately what underlies crony capitalism is bad ideas.

A common idea is that getting very rich from voluntary trade is tantamount to getting very rich from political redistribution. If the ways in which Vladimir Putin and Bill Gates each became billionaires are morally equivalent, the former mostly through threats of violence and the latter mostly by selling stuff, then what’s wrong with using aggression to get rich? Or, if they are equivalent, then can’t political power serve as a countervailing force against “economic power”? It’s easy to see how such ideas might appear to legitimize political power for special-interest pleading.

So bad intent may not always motivate even cronyism. I believe most of us, whatever our ideology, want to do good—for ourselves, our families, our friends, and our communities—most of the time. Mises wisely pointed out that the dichotomy between “interests versus ideology” is unhelpful because “it is not sensible to declare that ideas are a product of interests. Ideas tell a man what his interests are.”

Thus, as Henry Hazlitt argued long ago, preferring short-term gains for a small group of people over long-term improvement to the general welfare is just a bad idea because it ultimately runs counter to the interests of those who favor it.

Other Forms of Interventionism Are at Least As Important

The second reason I’m raising this issue is that the study of interventionism also includes looking at the unintended consequences of interventionism. Interventions are subject, to one degree or another, to what are called knowledge problems. Because knowledge in both the private and governmental spheres is imperfect, it’s simply not possible to be aware beforehand of how people will respond to an intervention. Knowledge problems generate perverse incentives that tend to frustrate the intentions of even well-meaning interventionists.

Perverse incentives refer to things such as people driving more recklessly as a result of mandating airbags in all cars, which is an example I used in a recent column. It also includes the spectacle of people losing their low-cost insurance because under Obamacare their coverage doesn’t meet the new minimum standards. (NBC news reported that the Obama administration may have known this would happen, but unlike crony capitalism it’s hard to see how this particular aspect of the ACA benefits anyone systematically, especially politically.)  Advocates of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour don’t realize the negative impact this increase would have on already disadvantaged low-wage workers, who will now be priced out of the labor market. For example, Time magazine reports that it could “lift 4–6 million out of poverty” but fails to mention that it could also increase unemployment by hundreds of thousands.

It’s hard to change the minds of hard-core proponents of interventionism (and of hard-core proponents of any ideology, including libertarianism) but there have been important examples. A recent one is the surprising change of heart by the activist/rock star Bono on the value of capitalism in developing countries. If changing minds through ideas isn’t possible, then I’m in the wrong business.

I don’t think I am.

I’m a Misesian on many issues, including this one. But here I’m also a Keynesian. In the closing paragraphs of his General Theory, Lord Keynes famously wrote:

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. . . . I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas.

I worry that focusing so narrowly on crony capitalism feeds into the very human but very misguided tendency to feel contempt for anyone who doesn’t believe as you do. Of course, there are those who do mock and tease, or worse, in arguments. But if you’re facing serious opponents, it’s better to regard them as people with gaps in their knowledge (which we all have) than to dismiss them as invincibly ignorant. Better to patiently point out the weaknesses of their arguments and to listen to what they have to say.

That’s hard, but it’s the only way to win. And by “win” I mean maintaining respect for yourself and being able to improve your position by seeing the weaknesses, as well as the strengths, in your own ideas.

ABOUT SANDY IKEDA

Sandy Ikeda is an associate professor of economics at Purchase College, SUNY, and the author of The Dynamics of the Mixed Economy: Toward a Theory of Interventionism. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminars “People Aren’t Pawns” and “Are Markets Just?

Solar and Wind Power Losing Worldwide Support

In his state of the union speech in January President Obama claimed that the U.S. was closer to “energy independence” than ever. He was referring to solar energy while ignoring that his administration has been the most anti-fossil fuel energy than any previous one.

The U.S. has the greatest energy reserves, coal, oil and natural gas, of any nation in the world, but Obama has been waging a “war on coal”, delaying the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada, and slow to issue permits to explore for new sources of energy reserves on federal lands. The impact on the economy is incalculable, but it is driving up the cost of energy for everyone and every industry.

Meanwhile, Obama keeps talking about “green jobs” and doubling the nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years.” This another fantasy to which he clings.

As Taylor Smith, a senior policy analyst for The Heartland Institute, points out “Despite years of favorable public policy, including renewable power mandates and billions in subsidies, solar power still produces only about 0.2 percent of the nation’s electricity. The National Conference of State Legislatures says power from most large, utility-scaled solar installations still costs about 35 percent more than electricity from natural gas plants; many other experts estimate the levelized cost is even higher.”

U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that the United States is producing less electricity now than it did when Obama took office even with the inclusion of wind energy.

From 2008 to 2012, U.S. electricity production declined by 1.7 percent. That’s what happens when Environmental Protection Agency regulations force coal mines to close along with coal-fired plants that previously produced 50 percent of the nation’s electricity.

Suffice to say, Obama is the enemy of fossil fuel production and the energy it provides for electricity production and our transportation needs. That makes him the enemy of the American people.

In February, the National Review had an article, “Europe’s Green Collapse”, by Stephen Moore in which he noted that “Not long ago nearly all the nations of Europe bought into this same dream of a green energy free lunch as they legislated tens of billions of dollars in subsidies for solar and wind power while directly and indirectly taxing and capping carbon-based energy.”

That policy was set in motion by the United Nations Kyoto treaty in 1997. It was based on the global warming hoax that called for a reduction in so-called “greenhouse gas” emissions. The U.S. did not sign onto the treaty and Canada withdrew from it in 2012.

The Earth, however, has been in a natural cooling cycle for going on seventeen years, the result not of any manmade gases, but because of the Sun has been producing lower levels of solar radiation. The hoax is based largely on the utterly false claim that carbon dioxide warms the Earth when, in fact, it plays virtually no role whatever in the Earth’s climate. The Earth is likely to remain cooler for decades.

That fact has been brutally clear in Europe where the cold has been comparable to the temperatures the U.S. has been encountering. Moore reported that “In January Brussels announced with little media fanfare that the European Union is ditching their renewable-energy standards.” It is a matter of economic survival for Europe.

What is astonishing is the way both the U.S. and Europe adopted renewable energy production because it is unpredictable and mindlessly expensive. A major factor why the global warming hoax is collapsing, it has cost everyone here and in Europe billions in loans and subsidies. Both solar and wind require a backup from traditional power sources that utilize coal, oil and natural gas.

“Thanks to about $33 billion a year in government subsidies, Germany currently gets 25 percent of its electricity from wind and solar power, and that is scheduled to rise 40 to 45 percent by 2025.” Watch Germany abandon its plans. “The EU admits that the cost of electric power in member nations is often 50 to 100 percent higher than in the U.S,” noted Moore. “Manufacturers are starting to move plants out of the EU and even to, of all places, the U.S.”

“Here is a textbook case of how centralized industrial planning—or ‘government investment’ as we now say—usually leads to catastrophically wrong bets.” In the U.S. it began in the 1970s when President Carter spent billions on renewable energy and projects like the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, a predecessor of Solyndra and other companies that went bankrupt shortly after receiving loans during the Obama administration’s first term in office.

Under Obama’s “stimulus” program, 83 percent of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Acts Section 1705 loans went to solar energy projects with wind receiving 11 percent of the funds.

“What saved the U.S. economy from replicating the Euro-industrial malaise was the entirely spontaneous oil-and-gas boom driven by technology and billions in investment by wildcat entrepreneurs…” That’s called capitalism. The sooner we get the U.S. government out of “investing” in such nonsense, the better.

As with everything else Obama has to say, his advocacy of renewable energy, like Carter’s, has proven to be a massive, costly failure.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is of a wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains of California, taken July 2001 by Stan Shebs. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Republican Party Est. March 20, 1854: A look back and looking forward by Bob Livingston

The following article is courtesy of Bob Livingston, Publisher of the Personal Liberty Digest. Our thanks to Bob for this insightful review of the history of the Republican Party, established one-hundred and sixty years old today.

On March 20, 1854, the Republican Party was born in Wisconsin. The party consisted of an amalgam of parties, business groups and other special interest groups, but was primarily made up of former Whigs and members of the Free Soil Party.

The Whigs believed in protectionism for industry, a national bank and currency, a large national debt, and large Federal government engaged in extensive public works. Free Soilers believed in free land and subsidies for farmers. Business leaders wanted a protectionist big government that would keep them free from competition and send them money from the Federal treasury.

Whigs favored the economic platforms of Federalist Alexander Hamilton and former Whig leader Henry Clay. These ideas formed the economic agenda of the new Republican Party. “They advocated protective tariffs for industry, a national bank, and plenty of public works and patronage,” explained the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

The Republican Party nominated its first Presidential candidate for the 1856 election. John C. Fremont won 11 of 16 Northern States. The party’s fortunes were brighter in 1860, though, with the Democrat Party divided and Southern States threatening secession if Republican candidate and railroad lawyer Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency.

As the historian Bruce Catton wrote in The Civil War, in 1860, Lincoln wanted to be the nominee of the Republican Party — a party that consisted of an amalgam of former members of the defunct Whig Party, Free Soilers (those who believed all new territories should be slave-free), business leaders who wanted a central government that would protect industry and ordinary folk who wanted a homestead act that would provide free farms in the West. “The Republican platform, however, did represent a threat to Southern interests. It embodied the political and economic program of the North — upward revision of the tariff, free farms in the West, railroad subsidies, and all the rest.”

In his book, The Constitution in Exile, Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote: “For forty years, Clay supported the creation of an American empire through measures such as corporate welfare, (which politicians like to call ‘internal improvements’); today we call them corporate tax breaks, protectionist tariffs, and a nationwide central bank. All the things that Clay favored in essence provided for a highly centralized government. And Lincoln supported them all.”

In the early 1860s, the Republican Party’s flurry of new laws, regulations and bureaucracies created by Lincoln and the northern Republicans foreshadowed Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” for volume, scope and questionable Constitutionality of its legislation.

The term “New Deal” was only co-opted by Roosevelt. It was first coined to describe Lincoln and the Republican agenda by a Raleigh, N.C., newspaper editor in 1865.

“Lincoln’s massive expansion of the federal government into the economy led Daniel Elazar to claim, ‘ . . . one could easily call Lincoln’s presidency the “New Deal” of the 1860s.’ Republicans established a much larger, more powerful, and more destructive federal government in the 1860s,” Mises explained.

Today, Republican elites try to cast themselves as the party of small government. But during the past 40 years, the party of Lincoln has done much more to grow government than reduce it. Both Presidents Richard M. Nixon and Gerald Ford expanded the Great Society programs of Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1970, Nixon imposed wage and price controls throughout the economy, imposed a tax surcharge on all imports and removed the American dollar from the gold standard [August 1971] – hardly small-government policies.

Nixon’s policies sparked a rise in oil prices and caused the Great Inflation of the 1970s, according to Charles R. Morris, writing in his book, The Trillion Dollar Meltdown. Morris writes that Nixon was a Keynesian through and through, as were his supposedly conservative cabinet members.

President Ronald Reagan was a believer in limited government, and he took steps to reduce its size. His tax cuts stimulated the economy; but Democrats controlled the House, and he was vilified by them for his efforts to reduce domestic spending while he increased military spending. While he campaigned on balancing the budget, he did not accomplish it and deficits soared. His limited-government agenda was hijacked by the Democrats and the Council on Foreign Relations, the members of which dominated Reagan’s staff.

President George H.W. Bush was elected to continue Reagan’s policies but despite his “Read my lips. No new taxes” pledge, Bush 41 was neither a small-government guy nor a believer in Reagan’s low-tax policies or trickle-down economics. He was a true Republican. He immediately joined the Democrats and raised taxes and grew government.

The second President Bush, George W. (compassionate conservative), was simply a big-government [one-world government] promoter. He expanded the Federal reach into our children’s education with No Child Left Behind, along with Senator Edward Kennedy, expanded entitlement programs like the Medicare Drug benefit and embarked on a war strategy that helped push a teetering economy over the cliff.

More egregious than that was his USA PATRIOT Act [overrules 4th and 5th Amendments, thus far] — which, among other things, suspended habeas corpus — and other supposed terrorism-fighting provisions that intrude on the liberty and privacy of Americans and codified the expansive spying bureaucracy we only now learning the depth and scope of. And many Republicans claiming to be conservative went right along.

“I’ve abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system,” Bush 43 said, in classic Bushism fashion, as he pushed his Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP).

So those of you who are counting on the Republican Party elites to rein in government have embarked on a fool’s errand. The GOP remains true to its roots, planted 160 years ago, today. A very unhappy birthday to the GOP.

ABOUT BOB LIVINGSTON

More than 40 years ago Bob Livingston saw where the nation and the world were headed, and he was alarmed. He knew he had to speak up, to be the warning oracle for those who would hear and heed the alarm. Now he works to expose the lies, deceit, misinformation and disinformation being spread as the “truth” by the government, the manipulated media and the controlling elite.

In the decades since, Bob Livingston—contrarian, ultraconservative, researcher and student of history—has stood as a vigilant and sometimes lonely but always steadfast and vocal sentinel against the forces both within and without our country that seek to subvert our freedoms and control our lives for their own ends.

In doing so he has always uncovered and provided for his readers the truth on a variety of subjects such as nutritional supplements and alternatives to drugs, issues of privacy, asset protection and preservation of freedom—even when that truth is uncomfortable to accept. Bob’s actual identity is kept secret so he can move freely working as a consumer watchdog in his quest to help you preserve your freedom, improve your health, boost your wealth and protect your civil liberties

Learn more about Bob at his Personal Liberty Digest.

Cruz: ‘Defend Life’ and ‘Defend Traditional Marriage’

Joe Miller from Restoring Liberty writes, “Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), a potential presidential contender in 2016, said the Republican Party needs a ‘big tent’ that embraces centuries-old ‘American values’ to succeed, adding that the GOP ‘should continue to defend life and that we should continue to defend traditional marriage.’”

Cruz made his remarks during a March 18th interview with the Des Moines Register, where he was asked about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who recently said that for the Republican Party to grow and recruit more young people, it needed to “agree to disagree on social issues,” specifically homosexual “marriage”.

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A VERY BAD IDEA: Transferring Control of the Internet to the UN

From an intelligence standpoint, it does not make sense to turn over control of the Internet to the UN. At a time when the US Armed Forces and the intelligence community are both trying to develop our national defenses against the threats of cyber warfare, to divest the nation of control of the Internet is not in the best interest of the nation. The Pentagon, White House, and other agencies of government have been signaling the onset of cyber warfare.

Obama’s transfer of the Internet to the UN is just another illustration of how he continues to weaken the Republic, his goal seems to move the nation to a post-modern utopian world. The Obama administration has been informing the world that Putin is on the wrong side of history, that Putin is living in the 19th Century of nationalism, not in Obama’s 21st Century vision of internationalism.

Obama believes anyone espousing nationalism in the United States is backwards, uneducated, and a danger to the “change” he envision for the United States. While Obama is degrading the strength of the US military to a level that existed before WWII, and is intent on seriously damaging the economic power of the nation, as he drives the Republic into unheard of levels of debt (soon the interest on the national debt will exceed the GNP).

Obama believes that the nation-state, and sovereignty must no longer be the basis for the foundation of the international system, in Obama’s new 21st Century world, he alleges Putin doesn’t understand, he wants to eliminate the US status as the only Superpower. It is rather apparent that Putin does understand Obama’s naive vision of the 21st Century and is taking full advantage of it, and of Obama’s leadership from behind. A destabilizing transfer of control of the Internet to the UN will not be in the best interest of the American people, the US Armed Forces, or for The Free Enterprise System. If control of the Internet is transferred to the UN, the American people can expect the UN to eventually levy taxes on use its use; the American public has been fortunate that ever since the US military created the Internet, it has been free for all Americans to use free of taxes.

Eventually the UN may allow certain restrictions to be imposed against certain member states that are not looked on favorably by the majority of member nations, like Israel, the United States, or any other nation the majority member states may disagree with. Internet privacy and computer security has always been protected by the United States, but can be abused by a new and unknown power structure at the UN.

The Republican leadership in the Congress that has done very little or nothing to oppose Obama’s transfer of the Internet to the UN, must take action to prevent the occupant of the Oval Office from effecting the transfer.

It appears Obama is transferring control of the Internet to the UN because he has had difficulty dealing with the open criticism of his administration on the Internet daily; that criticism, guaranteed by the freedom of speech, under provisions of the US Constitution has been difficult for him to accept.

It has been impossible for the Obama administration to control the American people’s freedom of expression, as they criticize the Obama administration’s multiple failures and scandals on Internet daily. Since the Internet would have to remain free and open if it were to remain under the control of the US Commerce Department, that must be changed. When the Obama administration turns control of the Internet over to the UN, he has full knowledge that a coalition of nations that restrict the freedom of expression of their own populations will endeavor to suppress the freedom of expression on the Internet.

Countries like China, Cuba, Iran, the Soviet Union, Syria, Sudan, Venezuela, Bolivia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mozambique, Algeria, etc. will take aggressive action to change the Internet as we know it today. The American people will forced by the Obama administration to abide by new oppressive UN Internet regulations, and Americans will be forced to abide by new UN Internet restricted regulations be penalized if they do not, or even worse. The American people must be allowed to assert their freedom of expression on the Internet and their right to oppose any attempt to suppress their freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights and the US Constitution, regardless of what any new UN Internet regulations may require.

The transfer of the Internet to UN control is not a small issue, it is about basic freedoms guaranteed to all Americans by the US Constitution, and must be opposed by any and all means possible. We encourage you to contact your Congressional representatives and demand that they take whatever action is required to prevent the transfer of Internet control to the UN.

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Russia controls Crimea, Ukraine plans joint exercises with US & UK. Anyone listening?

Masked by the media frenzy and focus on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasing his military incursion into Crimea, while Ukraine struggles to defend its sovereign nation. Faced by the Russian threat, Ukraine’s security chief announced it would hold joint military exercises with the United States and Britain.

As reported by the Associated Press, “Ukraine’s government said Wednesday it has begun drawing up plans to pull its troops from Crimea, where Russia is steadily taking formal control as its armed forces seize military installations across the disputed peninsula.” The most recent action involves masked Russian-speaking troops who seized control over Ukraine’s naval headquarters in the city of Sevastopol.

The several hundred militiamen who captured the base in Sevastopol met no resistance. The Russian-speaking troops, who arrived on the base after the storming, wore helmets, flak jackets and uniforms with no identifying insignia — a clear Geneva Convention violation. By afternoon, they were in full control of the naval headquarters.

Ukraine’s defense minister and deputy prime minister had planned to travel to Crimea on Wednesday in bid to avert an escalation in hostilities. But Sergei Aksyonov, the prime minister in Crimea, warned after the announcement of their departure that they would be turned back. And so it seems Crimea is indeed no longer a part of Ukraine — it is Russian — while the world stands by and watches. And as this video by The UK Guardian shows, for Pro-Russian separatists, Crimea is only the beginning.

Russian news agencies on Wednesday cited Constitutional Court chairman Valery Zorkin as saying the treaty signed by Putin has been ruled valid, thus formally clearing another hurdle for Moscow to annex Crimea.

In a warning to Moscow, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden declared the United States will respond to any aggression against its NATO allies, which include neighbors to Russia. “Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior,” Biden said, after meeting in Vilnius with the presidents of Lithuania and Latvia. Ukraine’s secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said today that his country will hold maneuvers with the countries that signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, but he didn’t give any specifics.

The 1994 Budapest Memorandum was signed by the U.S., Britain and Russia to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity when it surrendered its share of Soviet nuclear arsenals to Russia — how’s that working so far? Seems the only country holding maneuvers is indeed Russia — and not guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.

As well, it seems Russia is now massing forces for “military maneuvers” near the Estonian border — any ethnic Russians there? The proverbial clock is ticking and twelve F-16s are not going to send a message. I think I know a great mission for the A-10 Warthogs. Oops, I forgot, Defense Secretary Hagel wants to retire that fleet — supposedly it’s outdated and its original mission is no longer valid. Think again, Mr. Hagel.

RELATED STORY: Washington Post: Goodbye, Russia; hello again, Cold War-era Group of Seven

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. The featured image is of a Ukrainian 9K22 Tunguska SAM during the Independence Day parade in Kiev, Ukraine in 2008.  The photo was taken by Michael and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Nationwide “War on Common Core” rallies planned on Booker T. Washington’s birthday 04/05/2014

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Booker T. Washington, author, educator, Republican.

On April 5th, 2014 rallies against Common Core will be staged across Florida and America organized by Eye On US Education (EUSE). The rallies will be under the banner “War on Common Core.” This date was chosen because it is the birthdate of Booker T. Washington. According to the Booker T. Washington Society there are forty-five schools across America named after him. Schools in Florida named after Booker T. Washington are located in Miami and Pensacola.

Booker T. Washington was a Black educator, author, orator, and advisor to presidents of the United States. Blacks were solidly Republican in this period, having gained emancipation and suffrage with their support.

Washington was on close terms with national Republican Party leaders, and often was asked for political advice by presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Washington, as the guest of President Theodore Roosevelt in 1901, was the first Black ever invited to the White House.

Washington’s long-term goal was to build the community’s economic strength and pride by focusing on self-help and schooling.  He believed that education, black owned businesses, and hard work were the keys to success.

Washington raised funds to establish and operate thousands of small community schools and institutions of higher education for the betterment of blacks throughout the South.  The schools which Washington supported were founded primarily to produce teachers – as literacy and education are the keys to their future.

Quotes:

I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has had to overcome while trying to succeed.

There are two ways of exerting one’s strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up.

No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts.

If you can’t read, it’s going to be hard to realize dreams.

Few things can help an individual more than to place responsibility on him, and to let him know that you trust him.

Booker T Washington Quote

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is of Booker T. Washington holding a Carnegie Hall audience spellbound during his Tuskegee Institute Silver Anniversary lecture,  in 1906.

An Open letter to Former FL Governor Jeb Bush

common core protestAs you entered the Governors Club in Tallahassee, Florida, you spoke to me as a small group of us held signs to get your attention to our serious concerns about your federal education program called Common Core.

Three grandmas drove 12 hours each to see you, face to face, and you turned and scoured at us as though we were naval lint…pond scum. As I stated “Stop Common Core,” Your disparaging retort was “it is a good thing there’s only 3 of you.” As you turned and disappeared into the exclusive club, $1,000 per plate event to celebrate the Foundation for Florida’s Future, I said, “There were lots more, but we weren’t invited.”

That’s the whole point. You, Jeb Bush and your corporate cronies, have decided what is good for the children of America and WE; parents, educators, and concerned taxpayers, were not invited.

We were not invited to create this National takeover of education under the guise of improving our competitive advantage with our kids who are termed by your group as “human capital.”

We were not a part of the plan to take over 400 data points of information on children and their families including medical records, disciplinary files, family status, religious affiliation, political affiliation and more intrusive facts and share this without parental consent, now that your friend, Barack Obama, weakened the FERPA Laws through executive orders.

common core protest 2We were not invited to participate in the development of the Common Core standards by nameless DC bureaucrats who copyrighted them to prevent their change or improvement. Experts are ringing the alarms now that these standards are devastating to our kids and our future.

Our legislators and school boards were not invited to vote on the adoption of these national standards, their effectiveness, the billions of dollars in costs imposed, and implementation. They did not vote to give all their power to determine our state’s education programs to the federal government.

Religious Schools, charter schools, home schools and your very own initiatives on school choice did not vote for, or ask for, and do not want the One Size Fits All Common Core State Standards.

So WHY are you supporting this unconstitutional federal takeover of education called Common Core? Looking at who else supports this raises even more questions:

President Barack Obama, Arnie Duncan, Bill Gates Foundation, Mike Huckabee, Center for American Progress (George Soros), Eli Broad Foundation, GE, Hewlett Foundation, Pearson PLC (Education conglomerate whose 3rd largest shareholder is the government of Libya) …..strange bedfellows for certain!

Could it be the confluence of money meets power? Could it be the platform for your candidacy for President of the USA in 2016 just as you used the Foundation for Florida’s Future to propel you into the Governor’s mansion?

You have some explaining to do Mr. Bush.

Your efforts to gain political power will have unacceptable collateral damage. Our children are NOW suffering from faulty Common Core standards and curriculum damaging their foundations knowledge. This is a link to hours of heart wrenching testimony at the last State Board of Education meeting in Orlando 2/18/14 by parents, educators and experts documenting the depth of concern and outrage only growing as more are exposed to the seriously flawed National Standards. http://thefloridachannel.org/videos/21814-state-board-education-meeting/ Testimony starts after 1 hour 10 minutes.

Your collateral damage will soon include the politicians who have supported your flawed initiative. Governor Rick Scott has received a recent notice from the Republican base, the RPOF, Republican Party of Florida, demanding the removal of Common Core in no uncertain terms.

EDITORS NOTE: Joy Pullmann wrote in The Federalist, “Common Core: The Biggest Election Issue Washington Prefers to Ignore,” wrote about some bad behavior that has occurred among elected officials who have shown total and utter disregard of the electorate. Then she pointed out the political games being played in Florida:

Florida’s state board of education received 19,000 public comments on Common Core in October. Officials still have not formally reviewed those, and lawmakers including Gov. Rick Scott (R) told constituents the comments were part of lawmakers reconsidering Common Core after dropping its national tests. The day before the comment period closed, however, Florida Deputy K-12 Chancellor Mary Jane Tappen said on a webinar, “We are moving forward with the new more rigorous [Common Core] standards. So, if anyone is hesitating or worried about next year, the timeline has not changed.”

Common Core As “Technologically Necessary”: A Looming Shift In Sales Pitch?

The term Common Core is so negatively charged that Common Core State Standards (CCSS) proponents are trying their hardest to ditch the term– not ditch CCSS– just the term. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee suggested that states “rebrand” the CCSS product– give it a shiny new name in order to fool the public into thinking its gone.

In my own district, neither CCSS nor its PARCC test were mentioned by name in the letter home to parents regarding the upcoming PARCC pilot test.

In my remarks on March 2, 2014, as a member of the Common Core panel at the first annual Network for Public Education (NPE) conference, I advised that CCSS must die and that if it doesn’t, it could morph into another classroom standardizer.

Today (Sunday, March 16), I received this comment to my post on Bill Gates’ rallying teachers to support CCSS:

Just this last Thursday we had a rainmaker (“expert educator” and CEO) come to our town, Willard Daggett, who was brought here by our award-winning (NY State) superintendent, Luvelle Brown to speak to the “benefits” of Common Core and other areas of “college preparedness.”

In his hours of bloviating what you got from this was essentially that the “industry” is fast forward on technology at all costs. All of the new “techno-learning tools” were being lauded and at least w/Willard Common Core was scarcely mentioned and when done so he backed off his full-on support of CC. That I think in large part due to the firestorm surrounding it.

I believe we will at the least see a restructuring of CC and a repackaging of it and a greater emphasis on shoving technology down the throats of every district. That certainly seems to be where the money is going at the moment. And from the capitalists point of view it makes sense as the schools will increase their debt burdens through the years w/this technological imperative meaning a constant revenue stream for all sorts of suppliers (Gates being only the obvious and largest financier) and the shutdown of even more schools who can’t keep up with the debt which of course then means even more transfer of public funds to private institutions. [Emphasis added.]

Technology in order to accommodate PARCC testing is indeed “where the money is going” in my district. On the same day that I found out that the class I teach for students who wish to become teachers (called STAR Teaching Academy) is to be cut next year due to budget issues, out computer labs are getting a complete upgrade in order to accommodate the testing tied to CCSS. Slowly but surely, all that is not “core related” is being choked out of the school budget.

At the same time that the “consequences” of PARCC are being “delayed” in Louisiana (not removed; not erased; just delayed), the pilot testing is still required. And that means money spent on the PARCC-required technology.

It makes sense, then, to “rebrand” CCSS into a technological savior. Turn the public’s attention away from the spending of so many millions on CCSS-assessment technology while programs and staff are being cut.

So, one of the ways that CCSS can morph and can make the money spent on technology appear tied to the “standards” (whatever they might be called in an effort tonot call them CCSS) is to refocus on how useful untested CCSS will certainly be (tongue in cheek) for Promoting Technological Prowess Necessary to Compete in the Global Economy.

To this end, several web pages already exist in an attempt to sell CCSS (insert new name here) as a Technological Pal. Here is one from Fresno, California, and from the now-infamous Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) (infamous for its $1 billion iPad purchase), the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Staff Development for Educators (SDE), Common Core and Ed Tech (CCEDTECH)– CCEDTECH is promoted by Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) and the Monterey, California, Office of Education (MCOE).

The list goes on.

In order for CCSS (or whatever it is called) to survive, its sales people (not the least of whom are Bill Gates and Arne Duncan– more on the Gates-Duncan-CCSS triangle in my next post) must reshape CCSS into That Which Is Necessary.

Districts are blowing amazing amounts of increasingly scare funding to meet CCSS technology requirements.

Let’s just tell them that it wasn’t only for the tests.

Let’s tell them that it was for the sake of meeting the *technological rigor* of CCSS (insert more fashionable name here).

Advice to Young, Unemployed Workers by Jeffrey A. Tucker

We are now in the fifth year of very choppy hiring markets for young workers. The latest unemployment numbers once again leave them out from posted gains. Not even the boom in temporary employment included them.

The United States has one of the highest rates of unemployment among 20-to-26-year-olds in the world. Nearly half of the U.S. army of unemployed is under the age of 34. As for those who are hired, there is a huge gap between wage expectations and paycheck realities, which is exactly what you would expect in a post-boom world. A survey by Accenture finds that more than 41 percent of recent U.S. college graduates are disillusioned, underemployed, and not using their college degrees in their work.

The young generation faces challenges unlike any that most people alive have seen. This situation requires new adaptive strategies.

What follows, then, is my letter of advice to young workers.

Dear Young Workers:

Even if it weren’t for the economic stagnation, you would already be facing a tough market. That’s because you are showing up at the job marketplace nearly empty-handed. Our society long ago decided it was better for you to sit in desks for 16 years than to gain any real work experience in the marketplace that is likely to hire you later.

Even if it were legal for you to work when you are capable of doing so—from the age of maybe 12 or 13—the government has imposed these wage-floor laws that price your services out of the market. Then you are told that if you stay in school, you will get a great, high-paying job right out of college. Then it turns out that employers aren’t interested in you. You are beginning to sense that employers think you have few marketable skills and have no demonstrated predisposition to produce.

Here’s the root of the problem: People have been lying to you all your life.

As a young child you were repeatedly fed slogans about the equality of everyone. The urges to compete and win were suppressed in your childhood games, while sharing and caring for others were exalted above all other values.

Then at some point—somewhere between the ages of 7 and 10—something changed. All that caring/sharing stuff ended and a world of dog-eat-dog began. You were expected to get perfect grades, to excel at math and science, to be perfectly obedient, to stay in school for as long as possible. You were told that if you did that, everything would work out for you.

It does work out for some. But only a small minority of people are disposed to both compliance and rote learning. And even for those people, not everyone gets what he’s been promised. As for the rest, there is no plan in place. Those who fall through the cracks are expected to make it on their own somehow.

How do you make it? It all comes down to remunerative work. And there’s the barrier you face right now. You have the desire and you are looking for some institution that values what you have to contribute. But you can’t find the match.

Consider: Why does any business hire an employee? It happens based on the belief that the business will make more money with the employee than without it. The business pays you, you do work, and, as a result, there are greater returns coming in than there would otherwise be.

But think through what this means. It means you have to add more value than you take out. For every dollar you earn, you have to make it possible for the business to earn a dollar plus something extra. This task is not easy. Businesses have costs to cover in addition to your salary. For example, government mandates that businesses be insured. You have to be trained. There could be healthcare costs, too. There are uncertainties to deal with. All of these add to the burden that you place on the business, which adds to the costs of hiring you.

What this means is you have to be more valuable than you think. Why are minimum wage jobs so hard? Because it’s difficult for an inexperienced worker to be worth paying that much. The employer has to extract as much value as possible from the relationship with you just to make that relationship happen at all. That can’t happen right away because odds are you are losing the company money in the first months of employment simply because you are untrained. You end up scrambling like crazy just to earn your keep.

If you already understand this rule—that you must add more value than you take out—you now know more than vast numbers of young workers. And this gives you an advantage. While everyone else is grumbling about the workload and low pay, you can know why you are having to hustle so much and be happier for it. You are producing more for the company than you take out. Doing that consistently is the way to get ahead. In fact, it’s the key to life.

But in order to get ahead, you have to be a player in the first place. It does little good to sit around and wait for the right job at the right pay. Forget all your expectations. If something, anything, comes along, you should jump on it immediately. No job is too menial, despite what you have been told. The goal is just to get in the game. Yes, you have much higher salary expectations, and those might be met someday. But not yet.

The first step is to get into the game at some wage, just something, somewhere. The fear that such work, whatever it is, is somehow beneath you is a serious source of personal undoing. Those who are willing to perform the most “menial” of jobs are the people who can make a good life for themselves. Just because you perceive the job as “menial” does not mean it is not valuable to others and especially, ultimately, to you.

You learn from every job you have. You learn how to interact with others, how a business runs, how people think, how bosses think, and how those who succeed get ahead versus those who fail. Working is a time for learning, as much as or more than school.

People’s number-one fear is that their job will somehow define their lives. Hence, they conclude that a job stocking shelves at Walmart will redefine or dumb down who they are. This notion is absolutely untrue. That job is a brick in your foundation.

In order to get any job, you have to do more than drop off a resume or file one online. You have to emerge from the pack. That means that you have to sell yourself like a commodity. You have to market yourself (and marketing is the least-appreciated and yet most-crucial feature of all commercial acts). That is not degrading; it is an opportunity. Find out everything you can about the company and its products. After you apply, you need to go back and back, meet the managers, meet the owners, all with the goal of showing them how much value you will add to their enterprise.

In this new job, success is not hard, but it requires discipline. Just follow a few simple rules. Never be late. Do first whatever your immediate supervisor tells you to do. Do it much more quickly and thoroughly than he or she expects. When that is done, do some unexpected things that add value to the environment. Never complain. Never gossip. Never partake in office politics. Be a model employee. That’s the path toward thriving.

It’s not just about adding value to the company. It’s about adding value to yourself. The digital age has given us all amazing tools for accumulating personal capital. Get a LinkedIn account and attach your job to your personal identity. Start putting together that essential network. This network is something that will grow throughout your life, starting now and lasting until the end. It could be the most valuable commodity you have outside your own character and skills. Take possession of your work experience and make it your own.

While doing all this excellent work, you need to be thinking about two possible paths forward, each of them equally viable: advance within this one firm or move to another firm. You should go with whichever is to your best advantage. Never stop looking for your next job. This is true now and always throughout your life.

A huge mistake people make is to embed themselves emotionally in one institution. The law encourages this attitude by tying all sorts of advantages to the status-quo job you currently hold. You get health benefits, time off, scheduled raises, and it is always easier to stick with what you know. To do so is a mistake. Progress comes through disruption, and sometimes you have to disrupt yourself to make that progress happen.

To be willing to forgo the security of one job for the uncertainty of another gives you an edge. Average people around you will sacrifice every principle and every truth for the sake of security. People, with very few exceptions, fear the uncertainty of an unknown future more than the seeming security of a known status quo. They will give up every right and every bit of their souls for the promise of security (whether it be through a paycheck or an armed police officer), even to the point of personal misery or obeying a wicked despot (whether it be a boss or a dictator). You can break free of this tendency, but it takes courage, risk-taking, and a conscious act of defying convention.

You should always think of yourself as a productive unit that is always on the job market. You can go from institution to institution, always upgrading your skills and hence your wages. Never be afraid to try something new or to plunge into a new work environment.

Clever finance management here is crucial. Never live at the level that matches your income. Your standard of living, instead, should match your next-best employment opportunity, the one you have forgone or the one you might take next. If you stick with this practice—and it requires discipline—you will be free to choose where you work and to take greater risks. You will also develop a cushion should something go wrong.

At the same time, there could be advantages to sticking around one place, even as everyone else around you is moving from here to there. Even if that happens, you should still think of yourself as being on the market. You are governing yourself. Don’t let yourself be beholden to anyone, but understand also that no one owes you a living. That’s the only way to make clear judgments about your career path.

At every job, you are going to learn so much about human ethics, psychology, emotions, and behavior. Most of what you will learn will be enlightening and encouraging. Some of it, however, is not pretty and might come as a shock.

First, you will discover that people in general are extremely reluctant to admit error. People will defend an opinion or an action until the end, even if every bit of logic and evidence runs contrary. Sincere apologies and genuine admissions of error and wrongdoing are the rarest things in this world. There is no point at all in demanding apologies or in becoming resentful when they fail to appear. Just move on. Neither should you expect to always be rewarded for being right. On the contrary, people will often resent you and try to take you down.

How do you deal with this problem? Don’t get frustrated. Don’t seek justice. Accept the reality for what it is. If a job isn’t working out, move on. If you get fired, don’t seek vengeance. Anger and resentment accomplish absolutely nothing. Keep your eye on the goal of personal and professional advancement, and think of anything that interrupts your path as a diversion and a distraction.

Second, we all want to believe that doing a great job and becoming excellent at something will lead to personal reward. This is not always or even often true. Excellence makes you a target of envy from those around you who have failed by comparison. Excellence can often harm your prospects for success. Meritocracy exists, and even prevails, but it is realized through your own initiative, and it is never just granted freely by some individual or institution. All personal and social progress comes about because you alone push through the attempts of everyone around you to stop it.

Third, people tend to possess a status-quo bias and prefer to follow orders and instructions; most people cannot imagine how the world around them might be different through initiative and change. If you can train yourself to imagine a world that doesn’t yet exist—to exercise the use of imagination and creativity in a commercial framework—you can become the most valuable person around. You might be among those who can be real entrepreneurs. You might even change the world.

As you develop and use these talents, and as they become ever more valuable to those around you, remember that you are not infallible. The commercial marketplace punishes pride and arrogance and it rewards humility and the teachable spirit. Be happy for your successes, but never stop learning. There is always more to know because the world is ever-changing, and none of us can know all things. The key to thriving in this life is to be prepared to not only change with it but to get in front of the change and drive it.

From where you are now, unemployed with few seeming prospects, your future might look hopeless. This perception is not true. There are barriers, to be sure, but they are there to be overcome by you and you alone. The world does not work like you were told it works when you were a kid. Deal with it and start engaging the reality around you right now just as it is, using intelligence, cunning, and charm. You are the decision-maker, and whether you succeed or fail ultimately depends on the decisions you make.

In many ways, you are a victim of a system that has conspired against you. But you get nowhere by acting like a victim. You don’t need to be a victim. You have free will and the capacity for self-governance; indeed, you possess the human right to choose. Today is the day to start exercising it.

Find a Portuguese translation of this article here.

20121129_JeffreyTuckeravatar (1)ABOUT JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Jeffrey Tucker is a distinguished fellow at FEE, CEO of the startup Liberty.me, and publisher at Laissez Faire Books. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminar “Making Innovation Possible: The Role of Economics in Scientific Progress.”

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

Wages Are Like Love by Jeffrey A. Tucker

“The circumstances of time and place are no different for employers and employees.” – Jeffrey Tucker.

All this talk about raising the minimum wage has very little to do with reality. Raising it will not create a single job—if you aren’t earning a wage, making yourself more expensive is not going gain you a job—and will not likely cause anyone’s wages to rise. It’s hard to find anyone who is actually willing to contradict those claims, because they stem from basic price theory: Less of the same good will be purchased at a higher price than a lower price.

The timing is also incredibly bad. Business is already dealing with huge cost increases because of Obamacare. Many businesses are in full protest mode. Plus, employment markets are soft.

Economic growth in general is under downward pressure, with even past growth rates being revised downward. Economic growth is so pathetic now that Janet Yellen, the new head of the Fed, took a page from the Soviet playbook and suggested the bad weather itself is what is to blame—a line still used by Zimbabwe to explain its perpetual woes. It’s a heck of a time to force higher wages on businesses.

But wait. The New York Times has another view.

The writers and editors are arguing for President Obama to increase the minimum wage by executive fiat. And they use a novel argument based on 2013 research published by the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment at Berkeley University. This new research, based on data from many regions and time periods, suggests one clear effect of higher minimum wages. The labor force that remains after the wage hike tends to stick around longer because people don’t tend to move from job to job.

Now, in some way, this conclusion follows intuition. Once a business has trained someone and then gets coerced into paying that person more than he or she would otherwise earn, the business is going to be ever more dedicated to squeezing every bit of actual labor out of the person.

Business is less inclined to hire expensive new people and more inclined to press existing labor for performance. Workers are going to be less willing to risk leaving a crummy job that they are overpaid for doing because the job options have become tighter and muddier thanks to an increased wage.

In other words, higher minimum wages more deeply entrench what has come to be called “job lock.” Whether the employee and employer are happy with the arrangement or not, jobs tend to be frozen in place as a result of less fluid markets. People cling to what is known and what exists—the devil you know. This makes sense. Markets are synonymous with change. The less markets are allowed to work, the more stagnation you can expect in every area of life.

That doesn’t sound so hot, does it? But there’s another way to spin this effect, and The New York Timeseditorial page does its best to provide just such a spin. In fact, the editorial treats all of this research regarding job lock as wonderful news. It shows that “workers were less likely to leave on their own, and managers were more likely to keep the workers they had on staff to avoid the cost of recruiting and training replacements.”

Remarkable, isn’t it? In this rendering, business is saving money by raising wages, so what’s not to like? To be sure, there is nothing wrong with business doing this on its own. Retaining employees is sometimes good and sometimes bad, depending on a forecast of the future. It all depends, and surely it should be up to business and its labor force to make these decisions without bureaucratic fiat intervening.

What the editorial suggests is that higher wages need to be forced on business because otherwise managers would not understand their own interests. Businesses makes thousands of decisions every week regarding inventory, real estate, websites, accounting, product development, marketing, research and development, and vastly more, but, according to the minimum wage idea, they are clueless about how to manage the wages and salaries of their own workforce with an eye to profit maximization. For this, businesses need government to tell them what to do.

Do you see the presumption here? It is that the Department of Labor—not a profit-making firm but one run by people whose wages and salaries are dictated by law rather than markets—is in a better position than the private sector to know what the market demands. That’s implausible on the face of it, unless you fundamentally believe that markets are dumber than governments and that the price system is nonfunctioning.

That lack of basic economic understanding is only the beginning of the frustrations that economists have when looking at these debates. The urge to boost the minimum wage is driven not by economic considerations but political ones. It is a favor thrown toward unions and large corporations—institutions that already enjoy or pay high wages—at the expense of smaller companies or unemployed/marginal workers who have a hard time gaining any kind of foothold in the market.

The minimum wage also provides public relations benefits to politicians who are more readily seen as people who help people live better lives.

The cited research and the editorial are probably right that higher wages mandated by law tend to lock down existing jobs. But how they can argue that this is a good thing is a real puzzle.

In the real world, wages and salaries are like love; they’re complex and personal matters determined by concerns tied to the peculiarities of time and place. So they’re impossible to legislate from the outside without doing harm. For example, it might be to the advantage of a young person to work for very low wages as a way of getting in the door. Or there might be a benefit to working for free as a way of gaining necessary training.

In the real world, there are occasions when it makes sense to accept a much lower wage than you are currently getting as a way of earning a stake in a company on the rise.

Consider the culture of a startup, for example. Most of the workers are working for free or even negative wages in the hopes of creating something wonderful for the future. This has become a way of life for many people who are living in the tech world. They are making a bet that they can apply their own “sweat equity” to create something marvelous for the future. This is not a small issue, since these are the companies creating our future for us. They do not conform to the minimum-wage model of enterprise.

A consistent effort to impose minimum wages would rule out the startups that are creating the new technologies and services that are making the future possible. These startups ignore the law, which is the only way these enterprises work.

Our central planners tell us all what we should earn and what we should pay. In the end, these are intimate details of life that are unique to our lives, to time, to place. Central plans will always miss the mark and end up forcing inapplicable models upon us that do not meet the needs of a free-enterprise economy. That they believe they know is an expression of arrogance and an expression of an underlying belief that force is a better system than agreement.

20121129_JeffreyTuckeravatarABOUT JEFFREY A. TUCKER

Jeffrey Tucker is a distinguished fellow at FEE, CEO of the startup Liberty.me, and publisher at Laissez Faire Books. He will be speaking at the FEE summer seminar “Making Innovation Possible: The Role of Economics in Scientific Progress.”

Warning for Floridians: National Hurricane Center to Issue New Storm Surge Map

If you think your property insurance costs are going through the ceiling, then gird yourself for more rate increases. Florida resident Pat Wayman in an email states, “Hold onto your wallets… the govt is making a map of more vulnerable areas!  The insurance companies must love this administration. If you loved the last insurance rate hike, this one should hit you like a tsunami.” Or perhaps a hurricane?

Wayman notes, “Remember that new flood insurance bill that was signed into law? Taxpayers in non flood zones will further subsidize those in flood zones. Both our Senators voted for the bill and Rick Scott went to D.C. to lobby for it. Here is the link to an Insurance Journal article outlining the bill. The journal states, ‘The bill would scale back big flood insurance premium increases faced by hundreds of thousands of homeowners. The measure also would allow below-market insurance rates to be passed on to people buying homes in flood zones with taxpayer-subsidized policies.'”

Beginning with the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season, NOAA’s National Hurricane Center (NHC) will issue the Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map for those areas along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States at risk of storm surge from a tropical cyclone.

Developed over the course of several years in consultation with emergency managers, broadcast meteorologists, and others, this new map will show:

  • Geographical areas where inundation from storm surge could occur; and
  • How high above ground the water could reach in those areas.

The Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map is an experimental National Weather Service product that provides valuable new information on the storm surge hazard associated with tropical cyclones.

Storm surge is often the greatest threat to life and property from a hurricane. However, many people do not understand this term or the threat it represents.

Here are some things to know about this map:

  • The first map will usually be issued at the same time as the initial hurricane watch or, in some cases, with a tropical storm watch. The map is based on the latest forecast track and intensity for the tropical cyclone, and takes into account likely forecast errors.
  • The map shows inundation levels that have a 10-percent chance of being exceeded, and can therefore be thought of as representing a reasonable worst-case scenario for any given location.
  • The map is subject to change every six hours in association with every new NHC full advisory package. Due to the processing time required to produce the map, it will not be available until about 45 to 60 minutes following the advisory release.

The map will be part of an interactive display made available on the NHC website (http://www.hurricanes.gov) in situations where hurricane watches and warning are in effect for portions of the continental U.S.

The map will be experimental for at least two years, during which time comments from users will be solicited and gathered. Dissemination of the underlying raw data, including the provision of shapefiles, will not be available during the experimental period. At the conclusion of the experimental phase, based on the input, NHC will determine if the map would become an operational product.

For additional information, please visit the NHC Storm Surge website: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/surge.

The IRS: Al Qaeda Spy Surprise

Do you remember 9/11? Do you remember who was behind that attack? Do you remember the names of the over 3,000 killed on that day? Al Qaeda, a Muslim Brotherhood organization led by the former terrorist-in-chief Osama bin Laden planned, trained and carried out the attack on September 11th, 2001.

Fast forward to today. Is the Obama administration giving Al Qaeda terrorists free reign in the USA?

Investors Business Daily reports, “The IRS is diligent to a fault when it comes to vetting conservative groups applying for nonprofit status. But it’s out to lunch when vetting employees posing security risks. While the Internal Revenue Service was investigating Tea Party patriots in the run-up to last year’s presidential election, it dispensed with basic background checks and hired a convicted Islamist traitor as a high-level official. Mohammad Weiss Rasool, whom the FBI busted last decade for tipping off an al-Qaida terrorist suspect, reportedly now works for the deputy IRS chief financial officer as a financial management analyst, drawing a lucrative salary at taxpayer expense.”

Read More At Investor’s Business Daily: http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/030714-692562-why-does-irs-have-al-qaida-spy-working-for-it-.htm#ixzz2wPR23F4a

Here is my take on this, just one of many, failure by the Obama administration to protect us from our enemies.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/0mizuLNq5uM[/youtube]

 

RELATED STORY: IRS employs former cop convicted of FBI snooping

Florida: Free college tuition to all Illegal Aliens!

Floridians for Immigration Enforcement (FLIMEN) states, “Thursday, March the 13th, 2014 was a Bad Day in Tallahassee for Florida Colleges for two reasons: Governor Rick Scott declared his support for SB 1400, the Senate version of College Tuition Subsidies for Illegal Aliens and the Florida House Appropriations Committee passed HB 851 on March 13, 2014 by a vote of 19-7.

FILMEN notes that, “When immigration is viewed only racially and culturally, limits and legality will never be imposed.  The debate must focus on limitations and lawfulness, otherwise open borders will make the United States a marketplace and not a country.”

Tad Mackie in an email titled “Tuition for illegals HB 851 CS3 and amendments” to Florida Representatives Ray Pilon and Greg Steube states:

Pending Caldwell amendment, A059821, is a KILLER stroke. It’s also attached… Ya’ gotta’ read it… It’s a beautiful thing… Totally destroys the giveaway in an undeniable and ironically humorous fashion.

Pending Nunez amendment, SA216795, takes the giveaway language language out of bill section 1 (which modifies fs 1009.21) and creates bill section 5 (which adds a new section to fs 1009.26). The new bill section 5 is the same giveaway EXCEPT it requires 4 years of high school with graduation as versus just the last 3 years of HS with grad and leaves out the anchor baby freebie.

Pending Torres amendment to the Nunez SA, AS695763, takes the giveaway a step further by adding that a GED is as good as 4 years of High School with a diploma AND, in addition to the standard “within 24 months of graduation” adds, “within 24 months of July 1, 2014″… In other words, if an illegal has a FL GED, from whenever, he/she has 2 years, from when bill takes effect, to catch the freebie.

Pending second Torres amendment to the Nunez SA, AS048757, sticks the anchor baby freebie language back into it.

CS3 needs to answer a few other questions, strike the anchor baby noise and add the Caldwell amendment.

FILMEN concludes, “The bottom line nationally is that illegal immigration continues to hurt American families, take away jobs and depress wages of fathers and mothers who desperately want to support their children without going on welfare. The bottom line here in Florida is HB851/SB1400 will cause an unknown number of legal students to be displaced from college by illegal alien students. There is absolutely no estimate of the fiscal cost of college tuition subsidy for illegal aliens.”

ABOUT FLIMEN

FLoridians for IMmigration ENforcement (FLIMEN) is a group of concerned Floridians advocating for immigration enforcement. The group will also strive to eliminate illegal immigration incentives and will challenge the myths and pandering by elected officials and newspapers. Please consider signing up for free FLIMEN Alerts.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of students at Miami Dade College taken by Fredler Brave at en.wikipedia.

UPDATE: SB 1400 cleared its first committee. There’s been a committee substitute for SB1400 that has the freebie for illegals in it: http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Documents/loaddoc.aspx?FileName=_s1400c1.DOCX&DocumentType=Bill&BillNumber=1400&Session=2014. The freebie starts on line 265.