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Endless Racial Discord

When I look back at the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, I marvel at how naïve I was that the passage of major legislation was going to “solve” the problem of discord between the white and black race.

On May 3, the Wall Street Journal reported on a survey regarding racial disturbances around the nation such as those that wracked Baltimore. “A resounding 96% of adults surveyed said it was likely there would be additional racial disturbances this summer…” To nobody’s surprise, blacks and whites “viewed the situation differently.”

“Asked to choose between two possible explanations for recent events, 60% of blacks said they reflected ‘long-standing frustrations about police mistreatment of African-Americans.’” Some 27% of black respondents said they thought the disturbances were caused by people as an excuse “to engage in looting and violence.” I favor the latter explanation because I doubt that our nation’s police forces engage in deliberate harassment and mistreatment of blacks.

Indeed, Baltimore has a back Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, a black police chief, and many blacks among his force. If the issue was the police, then no city in America is safe and that is just not so. Unfortunately, the foolishness of Baltimore’s Mayor, who told the force to stand down and let the rioters have their way, was then demonstrated by her request that the Department of Justice (DOJ) launch an investigation of the city’s police force.

The problem with that is that the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has only fifty employees responsible for handling labor-intensive ‘pattern or practice’ investigations among the nation’s 18,000 state and local forces. There is no way the Baltimore investigation will produce anything of useful information. It is far more likely that the outcome will be more political than demonstrative of trends.

What is generally not being noticed is that the Obama administration, as reported in Politico.com on May 8, “has opened more than twenty such investigations into local law enforcement agencies “most of which result in either a settlement agreement with local officials or a lawsuit that pushes legally binding reform.”

AA - Obama and Sharpton (1)I have come to the view that the most racially divisive leader in America is our first African-American President. Why else has Rev. Al Sharpton become his most widely recognized “adviser” and why are administration figures are less likely to be found honoring fallen police officers than the alleged black victims? Three were sent to Freddie Gray’s funeral and none to the funeral of the slain police officers. The First Lady, too, has been stirring up racial discord.

Referring to the Baltimore riot, he said that “we as a nation have to do some soul-searching” when as William McGurn of The Wall Street Journal noted the trillions spent on liberal programs, personified by LBJ’s “War on Poverty”, have not succeeded in reducing poverty and have contributed to creating whole populations that live off of government handouts of one sort or another.

“While the Great Society’s billions were creating a culture of dependency,” said McGurn, “South Korea—with its emphasis on trade and global competition—rose from the ashes of a terrible war to become the world’s 12th largest economy.” This occurred over the same time period the liberal dependency programs and liberal governance of many U.S. cities created the problem we are addressing and discussing today.

Nor is the answer for the federal government to take over the management of the nation’s police forces. We have already seen how it has ruined the educational system and is now doing the same to our health system.

Are their differences between whites and blacks? Yes, but they are economic. Middle and upper class blacks share the outlook of their white counterparts. They look at the inner cities and they understand that decades of liberal governance has driven out businesses large and small, along with anyone who could afford to leave. Yes, there was “white flight”, but they were joined by blacks who saw there was no future to be had there for their children. The rest are trapped.

So, will there be more riots and disturbances in our cities this summer? Yes, that would appear to be the case. So long as police are not allowed to take action against the instigators and perpetrators, that is a given.

Not until this nation returns to the high levels of respect for the men and women who put their lives on the line every day will we see a cessation of such events. My experience and the nation’s over the past six decades is an indication that some pundit will be holding forth on this topic six decades from now…only it will be worse.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Is Liberalism a Cult? ABSOLUTELY!!!

The other day, I was watching a program about the Church of Scientology. The program was not particularly flattering to Scientology. In fact, the documentary was downright disparaging. In the conclusion of the documentary, although the producers did not come out and actually say it, was that Scientology was nothing more than a flashy, well-funded cult. That got me to thinking about religion in general. You see, all of the worlds’ major religions have one thing in common. That commonality is the fact that there is a greater being outside of yourself and humanity. Some call that factor God, The Great Spirit, Gaia etc.

Cults have one thing in common. Their commonality is that the leader or leaders of the order believe themselves to be the great being that has come to live in human form. Indeed, they often call themselves God. For the most part, true religions have an uplifting message. Even if you don’t agree with that message, it is still there. Cults would have you believe that there is nothing positive to look forward to outside of the cult leader.

This is where politics comes in. You see Liberalism is nothing more than a cult. It is probably not the worlds largest cult but it is a cult non the less. Liberalism doesn’t believe in a greater being outside of themselves. Often Liberals are atheists or agnostic and thus they only believe in themselves and those who lead the cult. Liberals believe that there is no hope outside of the cult, or government. That the cult has to be grown to ever bigger levels in order to achieve the utopia that is, in reality, impossible to achieve.

We are told, that if we do not believe in this cult, that we have no soul, no heart. We are told we do not care about our fellow citizen our fellow human being. We are told that only the cult leaders, the political leaders, have the ability to help those who are in most need of help.

Liberalism is born out of the idea that man is helpless without those deemed to be smarter than the masses. In fact those so-called smart leaders are only smarter than the masses because those leaders tell us they are smarter. There is no real evidence that those leaders of the Liberal Cult are actually smarter than a 5th grader.

Liberals tell us that in their cult, and only within their cult, will man get the best health care, the highest wages, the best housing, the cleanest planet and the safest non-violent and completely united world of nations  under one government. Liberals tell us that basic human rights, such as the right to defend thy self against bodily harm is wrong and should be left solely to those whom the Liberal Cult deems as its guardians. The Liberal Cult tells us time and time again that the right to freely speak your mind should be limited to ideas in which the Liberal Cult agrees with. Forget having a deviating opinion. That is frowned upon by the Liberal Cult.

The Liberal Cult believes that the right to massive assembly should not be infringed upon unless you are assembling to oppose what the Liberal Cult believes to be in your best interest. So Occupy Wall Street and the Baltimore Riots, according to the Liberal Cult is fine. But a small gathering of TEA Party members assembling quietly in a local park is very bad. The Liberal Cult demeans and debases the rich yet the leaders of the Liberal Cult are often rich themselves. Many of them have more wealth than the people they are decrying as the “evil rich”.

The Liberal Cult demands that we stop the war on drugs and make most drugs currently illegal, legal. While at the same time they call for ever increasing amounts of money and trained professionals to deal with those who have become hopelessly addicted to the drugs that the Cult wants to now make legal. The Liberal Cult continues to blame everyone but the Cult for the failures of their own ideas. In no way can the Cult admit to failure. Their claim is always that there is not enough of others people’s money being spent on the program they say will cure the ill. If a child fails a math test, the Liberal Cult will tell you it is not the fault of the Cults idea but that a child should be allowed to think that 2+2=5. The Cult will say that we did not spend enough money on the administration, the school building, the teacher and text book and that because we won’t spend double what we are already spending, it is the fault of everyone not in the Cult.

In the Liberal Cult there is no room for dissenting thought or actions. In fact if you don’t believe as the cult does, they will brand you a racist, a sexist, a bigot, a homophobe. You will be labeled a greedy, money loving capitalist even though you earn less than and give more to charity than the Liberal Cultist. Your religion will be labeled stale and outdated and that newer religions that are more violent and hateful are the way to go. If you are a Liberal Cultist you don’t believe in logic, in facts, in true history. You only believe in feelings, your own feelings, and you force public and private policy upon everyone based on your feelings alone. Simply because you believe you are smarter and wiser than anyone else who is outside the Cult.

We all can look at cults and say that cults in general are a bad idea and are bad for the individual involved. So why is it we fully accept the Cult of Liberalism even though it is probably the most dangerous cult the planet has ever seen?

Something to think about.

6 Reasons Pamela Geller’s Muhammad Cartoon Contest Is No Different From Selma

“In 1965, defying racist Democrats posed a legitimate threat to your life. In 2015, defying jihadists poses a legitimate threat to your life. Martin Luther King knowingly risked his life. Pamela Geller knowingly risks her life.”

This piece is brilliant in its clarity. Leftists and Islamic supremacists have, of course, reduced it to “Nolte likens Pamela Geller to Martin Luther King!” but that is not the point at all, although there really isn’t any problem with the comparison anyway. The point is that both “provoked” an oppressor to expose him as such, at risk to their lives. One is revered, one is excoriated. Both are heroes.

“6 Reasons Pamela Geller’s Muhammad Cartoon Contest Is No Different From Selma,” by John Nolte, Breitbart, May 9, 2015:

When you are dealing with the mainstream media, it is always difficult to tell if you are dealing with willful ignorance or just plain old ignorance-ignorance. There are plenty of moronic savants in the national media who have cracked the “hot take” code to please their left-wing masters but have no fundamental grasp of history, or much of anything much of else.

The act of willful ignorance in the media manifests itself through bias, and lies of omission conjured up to serve that bias. These dishonest liars know they are dishonest liars, and willfully choose to not tell the world pertinent facts like, say, Baltimore has been run by Democrats for a half-century, Hillary Clinton is in favor of legally aborting infants born alive, Ted Kennedy abandoned a drowning woman, and George Zimmerman is Hispanic.

Anyone who knows anything about history understands that tactically and morally, Geller’s provocative Muhammad Cartoon Contest was no different than Dr. Martin Luther King’s landmark march from Selma to Montgomery.

The first thing the spittle-flecked will scream upon reading the above is that I am comparing Geller to King. I did not know King. I do not know Geller. I am not comparing anyone to anyone. What I’m comparing is one righteous cause to another.

The second thing the spittle-flecked will scream is that King never would have held a Draw Muhammad Cartoon Contest … which brings me to the first reason there is no moral or tactical difference between Garland and Selma:

The Oppressor Chooses the Form of Protest, Not the Protester

Whether it is a bully stealing lunch money, an abusive husband “keeping the little woman in line,” a government passing unjust laws, or religious zealots demanding fealty from all, oppressors come in all shapes and sizes.

Oppressors do, however, share three important things in common: 1) The use of the threats of everything from shaming to instituting unjust laws to violence. 2) The goal of stripping others of their rights. 3) The choosing of the design and structure of whatever defiant protest might take place against them.

The protester has absolutely no say in this matter.

The only way to defy and protest against the bully who takes your lunch money, is to not give him your lunch money. Through his own actions the bully has designed the form of protest. The same is true for the abusive husband. If he is using the threat of violence to keep you “in line,” a defiant protest can only come in one form: doing the exact opposite of what he tells you to do or not to do.

If an unjust government passes a law making it illegal to sit in the front of the bus, the only way to protest the unjust government is to sit in the front of the bus.

Martin Luther King did not choose his form of protest in Selma. Racist Southern Democrats did.

Pamela Geller did not choose her form of protest in Garland. The jihadists did.

The day that changed America is called “Bloody Sunday.” On March 7, 1965, five-hundred-plus civil rights activists provoked violence from their oppressors by defiantly gathering on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.

It was the oppressor who chose this form of protest, not the protestors. Racist Democrats who ran Selma and the state of Alabama refused to authorize the march and pledged to stop it. Therefore the only righteous way to defy these racist Democrats who refused to allow Americans to exercise their God-given right to protest for their God-given rights, was to go ahead with the march.

What was true in Selma 50 years ago also was true in Garland 5 days ago.

It was the jihadists who told us they would oppress us with violence if we exercised our God-given rights to draw and satirize Muhammad. Therefore, to righteously defy this oppression, Pam Geller and the 200 others had no other choice but to draw and satirize Muhammad (more details on this below).

The Deliberatively Provocative Symbolism of the Site of the Protest

The launch point of the historic 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery was no accident. To poke a finger deep in the eye of their racist Democrat oppressors, civil rights organizers deliberately chose the Edmund Pettus Bridge. The bridge is named after a Grand Dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, a confederate Civil War general, and a Democrat U.S. Senator.

Starting their civil rights crusade in such a place was an intentional taunt, an open insult to a diseased culture, and an obvious act of cultural blasphemy.

For the same righteous reasons, Geller chose the site of The Curtis Culwell Center in Garland, Texas, to hold her defiant cartoon protest. Just two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo massacre in France, a Stand with the Prophet in Honor and Respect event was held at the Curtis Calwell Center. The Islamic event was a horror show of extremism.

An unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombings was invited to the conference — a barbarian who has declared the F.B.I. a terrorist group and preaches, “This so-called democracy of America, will crumble and there will be nothing. The only thing that will remain will be Islam.”

The organizer of the event, Malik Muhammad, has advocated for Sharia Law here in America.

The entire event was premised on “defeating” those who disrespect Muhammad. This was all couched under the politically correct term of “Islamophobia,” but here is the rub:

“Frustrated with Islamophobes defaming the Prophet?” the event materials ask. … “Remember the Danish cartoons defaming the Prophet? Or the anti-Islam film, ‘Innocence of Muslims’?”

Like I said: it is the oppressor who chooses the form of protest.

A Righteous Cause for Civil Rights

In the face of a very real danger, Martin Luther King, his fellow organizers and hundreds of free Americans, stood up and defied their savage oppressors in defense of their God-given rights.

They provoked violence, taunted, and broke the law, all in furtherance of a righteous cause.

In the face of a very real danger, Pam Geller, her fellow organizers and hundreds of free Americans, stood up and defied their violent oppressors in defense of their God-given rights.

They provoked violence, taunted, and obeyed the law, all in furtherance of a righteous cause.

I Come In Peace

The Selma protesters defying their violent oppressors, did so peacefully. Their only provocation was exercising their rights.

The Garland protestors defying their violent oppressors, did so peacefully. Their only provocation was exercising their rights.

Democrat Bigots Victim-Blame

While much of the national media sided with the Selma protestors, local Democrats in the media and the political establishment blamed and demonized King, and his followers, for rocking the boat, provoking violence, insulting the local culture, and causing the violence to happen.

Last week, Democrats in the media (New York Times, CNN, Washington Post, and even some sorry corners of Fox News) and the political establishment blamed and demonized Geller, and her followers, for rocking the boat, provoking violence, insulting a culture, and causing the violence to happen.

The 1965 Democrats and today’s Democrats are also bigots. The same CNN that protects Islam from offense by blurring the Muhammad cartoons, does not blur the Piss Christ.

The same New York Times that blasts those who offend Islam, profits from Mormon bashing.

Every one of these present-day media Democrats are silent in the defense of satire and mockery directed Christianity, or they enjoy and defend it. The opposite is true of satire and mockery directed at Islam. And that is the very definition of bigotry.

For the Righteous Cause of Freedom, People Risk Their Lives

In 1965, defying racist Democrats posed a legitimate threat to your life.

In 2015, defying jihadists poses a legitimate threat to your life.

Martin Luther King knowingly risked his life. Pamela Geller knowingly risks her life.

In both good and evil ways, Sunday in Garland, Texas, history repeated itself.

The national media is hiding that fact because they are either too bigoted, cowardly, and biased to tell the truth, or too ignorant to see the truth.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Malaysia: Muslim leader forbids Mother’s Day, says it honors Virgin Mary

SNL skit depicts fear of drawing Muhammad

Iran Holds Holocaust Cartoon Contest, Draws Nearly a Thousand Entries

On the Road to Dictatorship

In a speech before the City Club of Cleveland on March 18, 2015, Barack Obama put into words what, until now, he has only allowed himself to dream about.  In his remarks, he launched into a diatribe on how he would choose to run U.S. elections… if only he could dictate his own terms.

According to the Associated Press, when he was asked about the “corrosive” influence of money in U.S. elections, he digressed into the related topic of voting rights, suggesting that “the U.S. should be making it easier… not harder… for people to vote.”

For those who may doubt the wisdom of mandatory voting, he suggested, “Just ask Australia, where citizens have no choice but to vote.  If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”  As Obama sees it, universal voting would counteract the evil influence of money in politics more than anything else.  This from a man who raised $750 million against John McCain in 2008 (much of it from illegal foreign sources), and $1.12 billion in his reelection bid against Mitt Romney in 2012.  So, if money in politics is “corrosive,” as Obama suggests, then he is the most thoroughly “corroded” politician in U.S. history.

He went on to note that, disproportionately, those who fail to vote on Election Day are younger, lower-income, and more likely to be immigrants or minorities.  Translated, what Obama yearns for is a nation in which the most ignorant and uninformed people (his base) are required to vote.

On Election Day 2008, in an attempt to learn how much Obama voters knew about politics and current affairs, Zogby International interviewed more than 500 Obama voters outside polling places across the country, asking the same fourteen questions in each location.  One of those interviews with self-proclaimed Obama voters was caught on film and circulated on the Internet.  They were asked:

  1. Which party currently controls Congress?
  2. Do you know who Barney Frank is?
  3. Do you know who Nancy Pelosi is?
  4. Do you know who Harry Reid is?
  5. What do you think of Bill Ayers?
  6. Which candidate was given $150,000 worth of clothes by a political party?
  7. Which candidate has a pregnant teenage daughter?
  8. Which candidate said they could see Russia from their home?
  9. Which candidate said they’d campaigned in all 57 states?
  10. Which candidate won their first political campaign by having all the other candidates of their own party kicked off the ballot on technicalities?
  11. Which candidate had to quit a previous campaign because of a plagiarized a speech?
  12. Which candidate said their policies would likely bankrupt the coal industry and cause energy prices to skyrocket?
  13. Which candidate said that the government should redistribute wealth?
  14. Where do you get most of your news?

Those  interviewed were two white females, aged 20-25; three black females, aged 20-25; one black female, aged 40-45; two white males, aged 35-40; one white male, aged 55-60; and three black males, aged 40-45.

When asked which party controlled Congress in 2008, and what they thought of Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Bill Ayers, one black woman thought Pelosi was a “fair” woman, but none knew that Democrats controlled Congress or had any idea who Frank, Pelosi, Reid, or Ayers were.  However, when questioned about which candidate received a $150,000 clothing allowance from a political party, which candidate had a pregnant teenage daughter, and which candidate was charged (falsely) with having said that she could see Russia from her home, nearly all were able to name Sarah Palin.

When asked which candidate claimed to have campaigned “in all 57 states,” which candidate won their first political campaign by having all of their opponents kicked off the ballot, which candidate claimed that their policies would bankrupt the coal industry and cause energy prices to  skyrocket, and which candidate said that government should redistribute wealth, most of those interviewed attributed those statements to either Sarah Palin or John McCain… none named Barack Obama.  And when asked which candidate had to withdraw from a previous campaign because he had plagiarized a speech, none knew that it was Joe Biden.

Not surprisingly, when asked where they got all of their information, the respondents mentioned ABC, CBS, CBC, CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, the New York Times, Bill Moyers, Jon Stewart, and the Colbert Report.  So is it any wonder then that they knew nothing about current affairs but took yellow journalism from network news and yellow propaganda from Democrats and television comedy skits as fact?

If the Zogby poll tells us nothing else, it tells us that a lot of people are voting who shouldn’t be because they are not representative of the sort of informed voters necessary to the maintenance of a constitutional republic.  By relying on yellow journalism and yellow propaganda as their primary sources of political information, they cast themselves, in fact, as enemies of the republic.

In the best of all worlds, voter registration should be open only to those who could provide evidence of property ownership, and their immediate family members, while on Election Day prospective voters should be required to score at least 60% on a simple fourth or fifth grade level civics exam, with multiple choice questions drawn at random from a pool of questions.

Unfortunately, it is precisely the type of voter interviewed by Zogby that Obama and other Democrats are interested in herding into the voting booths.  They make up a large enough segment of the Democratic base to sway most elections.  Without them, Democrats could never win control of any legislative body, nor could they elect a president or a vice president.  Such voters are the life blood of the Democrat Party.

As matters now stand, the Democrat Party is totally dependent on the availability of a large pool of ignorant and uninformed voters, such as those produced by the public education system and our colleges and universities.  It represents a “devil’s bargain” between the teachers’ unions and the Democrat Party in which the teachers’ unions churn out millions of ignorant, uneducated, and uninformed voters in exchange for the right to dictate education policy and funding to Democrats in Congress and in the state legislatures.

In a series of widely circulated remarks, former Clinton operative James Carville is quoted as saying:

“Ideology isn’t all that important.  What’s important is psychology.  The Democratic constituency is like a herd of cows.  All you have to do is lay out enough silage and they come running.  That’s why I became an operative working with Democrats.  With Democrats, all you have to do is make a lot of noise, lay out the hay, and be ready to use the ole’ cattle prod in case a few want to bolt the herd.  Eighty percent of the people who call themselves Democrats don’t have a clue as to political reality.

“What amazes me is that you could take a group of people who are hard workers and convince them that they should support social programs that were the opposite of their own personal convictions.  Put a little fear here and there and you can get people to vote any way you want…

“Truth is relative.  Truth is what you can make the voter believe is the truth.  That’s why I’m a Democrat… I can make the Democratic voters think whatever I want them to.”

Although Carville’s remarks are unsubstantiated and may, in fact, be bogus, the truth of those sentiments are undeniable and represent what Republicans have always known about Democrats.  Put those sentiments together with an ethically-challenged politician, motivated by a foreign ideology, and what do you have?  We have the United States of America under Barack Obama.

In the March 22, 2015 edition of the New York Post, Michael Goodwin says of Barack Obama: “First he comes for the banks and health care, uses the IRS to go after critics, politicizes the Justice Department, spies on journalists, tries to curb religious freedom, slashes the military, throws open the borders, doubles the debt, and nationalizes the Internet.

“He lies to the public, ignores the Constitution, inflames race relations and urges Latinos to punish Republican ‘enemies.’  He abandons our ­allies, appeases tyrants, coddles ­adversaries, and uses the Crusades as an excuse for inaction as Islamist terrorists slaughter their way across the Mideast.  Now he’s coming for Israel…  Barack Obama’s promise to transform America was too modest.  He is transforming the whole world before our eyes…”

In a recent townhall meeting I suggested to our second term congressman that he ask those in attendance if they knew who Valerie Jarrett was and what role she plays in the Obama White House.  Only four of us in the room, all Republican activists, knew the answer to the question.

Barack Obama and Valerie Jarrett have put us well down the road to a fascist dictatorship.  What remains to be seen is whether or not rank-and-file Republicans will be concerned enough and wise enough to turn their backs on establishment Republican candidates in 2016, nominating, instead, conservative leaders with the backbone to lead us back from the abyss.

Some Basic Economic Truths

During the summer of 1985 my oldest son, Mark, decided to leave his job as a chemistry teacher in a Silver Spring, Maryland, Catholic Boy’s High School to complete his Master’s thesis and his Doctoral work in Metallurgical Engineering at the University of Oklahoma.  With little money to finance the move, he was looking for ways to transport his wife; his five-year-old stepson, Chris; and his four month old infant son, David, from Washington, D.C. to Norman, Oklahoma.

Having recently retired from my job with a major oil company in suburban Philadelphia, I offered to help with the move.  So, on the appointed day I drove to Silver Spring and loaded every cubic foot of my trunk and my rear seat with some of their belongings.  As we headed west on Interstate 70, my son took the lead in a borrowed Mercury station wagon, with every cubic foot filled to capacity; my daughter-in-law followed close behind in their worn-out old Toyota, the baby strapped into a car seat beside her; and I brought up the rear with five-year-old Chris riding “shotgun” in the passenger seat beside me.

The trip across the country was not up to my usual standard for cross-country driving.  Since the Interstate highway from Indianapolis to St. Louis was completed, but unposted, I had always taken that to mean that they wanted me to use my own discretion.  As a result, I was accustomed to driving the 1.030 miles from Philadelphia to St. Louis in just under fifteen hours.  But on our trip in August 1985, from the D.C. area to St. Louis, it was drive two hours, nurse the baby, drive two hours, nurse the baby, and on and on.  Then, after a night’s rest in St. Louis we set out again the next morning for the last leg of our trip from St. Louis to central Oklahoma.

As we had lunch in a roadside restaurant in Joplin, Missouri, I remarked that we were just a few miles north of Camp Crowder, Missouri, where I spent the first week of my U.S. Army military career, and that I’d like to revisit the place sometime just to see if it was the same as it was in the summer of 1953.

That was the last word on the subject until we crossed the Missouri/Oklahoma state line fifteen or twenty minutes later.  It was then that young Chris said, “Grandpa, tell me about some of your war wounds.”

Not wanting to go into detail on how I was machine-gunned by a group of South Koreans in a “friendly fire” incident during basic training, I decided to tell him some stories about wounds I received when I was a boy, just a few years older than he.  So I proceeded to describe a long ugly scar I have on my right knee that I received when I was just ten or eleven years old.  When I had described the scar, Chris said, “Grandpa, how did you get that wound?”

I said, “Well, as I recall, my friends and I were at the local ballpark in my hometown, crawling around under the bleachers, when I knelt on a broken soda bottle.”  To which he replied, “What were you doing crawling around under the bleachers?”

I said, “We were looking for small change, nickels and dimes that people had inadvertently dropped while watching a softball game.”

“Why were you looking for nickels and dimes?” he asked.

To which I replied, “We wanted to buy some sodas.”

He thought for a moment, a puzzled look on his face.  Then he said, “Grandpa, you can’t buy a soda for five or ten cents.  Sodas cost sixty cents.”

Not when I was your age,” I replied.  “When I was your age we could by a soda for five cents.”

That came as a big surprise to him.  He said, “How did that happen, Grandpa?”

I said, “The Democrats did it.”

“The Democrats did it?  Why did they do that?”

Thinking I’d impart a bit of economics wisdom, I said, “Well, the Democrats discovered many years ago that if they passed a law taking money away from people who have jobs and who work for a living, and give it to people who don’t have jobs or who don’t want to work, the people who get the free money will always vote for them on election day.  That helps to create what we call inflation and that’s why a soda costs a lot more than five cents today.”

This was obviously a new concept for him and I could almost hear the wheels turning in the seat beside me.  Finally, he said, “Grandpa, could the Democrats pass a law that would make candy free?”

I replied, “Sure they could.  But think about it… if the Democrats made a law saying that candy would be free, how long do you think the people who make candy would continue to make it?”

New concept; I could hear the wheels turning again.  Then he said, “Grandpa, am I a Democrat?”

I said, “Well, it’s too early to tell.  We’ll have to wait a few years to find out.”

Then he asked, “Grandpa, could the Democrats make a law that some candy would cost money and some would be free?”

I replied, “Yes Chris, the Democrats could make some candy free and others that would cost money.  But are you asking whether the Democrats could make a law saying that the kind of candy you like would be free and all the rest would cost money?”

A big smile crossed his face.  He nodded his head and said, “Yeah!”

I said, “You’re a Democrat.”

I’m happy to report that my step-grandson has turned out just fine, in spite of his Democratic leanings as a five-year-old.  He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Economics and is now a successful executive with a major Oklahoma City bank.  But now, thirty years later, there is evidence that many who were as ignorant of basic economic principles as my grandson was at age five, are still burdened by the same economic illiteracy.

The proof of what I say can be found in the television commercials of a company called Lear Capital, Inc.  In their most recent TV ads they tout the current low price of silver, showing a two dimensional graph in which the abscissa, or x-axis, represents time, and the ordinate, or y-axis, represents the fluctuations in the price of silver.  If one were to believe the graph, the market price of silver during a significant time period represented on the graph dipped to less than the price of production.  In fact, that claim is made quite clearly in the Lear Capital voice-over.

When I saw the ad I couldn’t help but be reminded of my grandson’s attitude toward the candy market when he was just five years old.  The fact that a precious metals marketing firm would continue spending big bucks attempting to convince television viewers that mining companies are continuing to mine silver when the market price is less than the cost of production, is proof that there are some adults out there in TV land who still believe in the Tooth Fairy.

When I posed the hypothetical question to my grandson thirty years ago, asking him how long he thought candy manufacturers would continue to make candy if there was no profit in doing so, it never occurred to me that, some thirty years later, silver miners might be doing just that.

However, there is some empirical evidence that there are fewer consumers who might fall for that advertising scheme than we might think.  Another Lear TV ad that has run on a daily basis for many months proclaims that the first one-hundred callers to their 800 number will receive up to $500 worth of free silver… just for calling their number.  If, in fact, callers to that 800 number are actually given silver coinage, they could be given a silver ten-cent piece, just for their taking the time to listen to a sales pitch, and the marketer could still claim truth in advertising by hanging their hats on the words “up to.”

Nevertheless, it is frightening to think that Madison Avenue advertising firms have such a low opinion about the economic smarts of the American people that they would air such an insulting advertisement.  My step-grandson has discovered some important economic truths.  Apparently, some in the corporate world and on Madison Avenue have not.

Even Democrats won’t back Obama’s Iran nuclear deal

Everyone knows he is handing the Iranians a license to nuke Tel Aviv. Even some Democrats know. “Democrats won’t back Iran nuclear deal in blow to White House as enough break with Obama to to put veto-proof legislation in the works to stop an agreement,” by Francesca Chambers, Daily Mail, March 16, 2015:

Democratic senators remain irritated with their GOP colleagues who last week sent a letter to Iranian leaders undercutting President Barack Obama, but they will still back bipartisan legislation that would give Congress final say over a nuclear deal.

Enough members of the president’s party have signaled support for that bill and another that would impose new sanctions on Iran if it doesn’t make an agreement with negotiators that the White House would be powerless to stop the measures from going into effect once passed.

The Obama administration and its international partners now have until March 24 to set up the framework for a deal.

After that, a dozen Democratic senators, including Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs committee, have said they will join with the GOP majority to pass bills inserting themselves into the process.

One would levy additional sanctions on Iran after June 30 if it doesn’t agree to the final terms of a deal, though monthly waivers would be allowed should more time be requested. The other would give the Senate the power to reject within 60 days any pact the executive branch makes with Iran.

Democrats who spoke with Politico voiced their displeasure with the 47 GOP senators who wrote a letter to Iran notifying the country’s leaders that any contract it makes with the Obama administration would be nullified when a new president takes office in January 2017, whereas most members of the upper chamber would be in office for years to come.

But that hasn’t changed their position on the core issue, they’ve said.

‘The letter’s incredibly unfortunate and inappropriate,’ Heitkamp said.’That doesn’t diminish my support for the legislation that we introduced.’

Michigan Sen. Gary Peters similarly said the missive was ‘simply unacceptable’ and ‘brought hyperpartisanship to an issue that we need to maintain our bipartisanship in.’

He added: ‘That doesn’t change my support for that bill. … I stay firm.’

Blumenthal last week called Republicans’ actions ‘unconscionable’ and bemoaned them for disrespecting the president.

At the time, he said the bipartisan coalition of senators willing to buck the White House was ‘in tatters.’ Blumenthal told CNN that he was determined to ‘stitch it back together,’ though.

A week later it appeared that the group was holding strong and that Senate Foreign Relations Bob Corker, one of just seven Republican senators who did not sign the ‘open letter,’ was correct in predicting last Thursday that the whole thing would blow over.

‘Let a couple days go by. We think there’s going to be really ignited momentum,’ Corker had told Politico. Nobody’s dropping out. We’ve had reaffirmed commitment.’

Meanwhile, Republicans who did sign the letter triumphantly declared on the Sunday news shows that they had no ‘regrets’ about sending Tehran the strongly worded message.

‘I stand by the letter,’ National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Rodger Wicker said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

‘I think it’s interesting that we’ve had so much talk about process, just like we’ve had talk about process with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, rather than dealing with the substance,’ the Mississippi Republican asserted, referring to House Republican leadership’s end run around the White House earlier this year when it invited Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told CNN he thinks it was ‘fair’ for Republicans to explain that Congress will be involved in the process one way or another.

‘I don’t think it was a mistake,’ he said of the message to Tehran.

‘The administration would like to have a distraction, but the point is the subject of the matter,’ the GOP leader said.

‘Apparently, the Obama administration is on the cusp of entering into a very bad deal with one of the worst regimes in the world.’…

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Our Political Class: 114th Congress

I have a theory that ties in with John Boehner’s third election as Speaker of the House on Tuesday.

Could it be that the newly elected congressmen and women are greeted by one of the members who has been there long enough to be the chairperson of one of the many committees of the House and quickly informed that they now belong to a very exclusive group in which they can, with relative safety, ignore the voters who just elected them?

In the House there were 58 freshman members and in the Senate, there were 13, some of whom were formerly members of the House. In total, the opening session of Congress welcomed 246 Republicans and 188 Democrats.

Those contesting for the job of Speaker in addition to Boehner were Reps. Ted Yoho and Daniel Webster of Florida and Louie Gohmert of Texas. The Democrats nominated Rep. Nancy Pelosi. Four Democrats did not vote for her. Meanwhile Webster received 12 votes, Gohmert earned three, and Yoho won 2. Of the 408 votes cast, Boehner won 216.

My other theory is that enough members of the House had concluded that Boehner had done as good a job as possible under the circumstances and saw no reason to turn the job of Speaker over to someone who might rock the boat. His opposition came mostly from the strongly conservative bloc in the House.

What we likely have in the 114th Congress is a very pragmatic leadership who are not likely to do anything dramatic regarding immigration, energy, or any of the other issues about which conservatives want action. In both the House and the Senate, they know what they are up against. They will put forward legislation, but all it will do is demonstrate what we already know about Obama.

In his first speech on the floor of the Senate, Mitch McConnell (KY-R), the Majority Leader, said “Bipartisan compromise may not come easily for the President. The President’s supporters are pressing for militancy these days, not compromise.” Those supporters are the Far Left. I doubt that he or John Boehner met with the President that much over the past six years.

The Founding Fathers created a republic in which the business of legislating was intended to move slowly, subject to debate and the need for compromise. Obama has made it clear he has no intention to work with Congress, especially now that it is controlled by the GOP. So gridlock will continue and conservatives will stay angry.

Regarding my theory that our political class doesn’t really worry that much about what the voters want, do you recall the omnibus budget that was passed in the last hours of the previous Congress? That was 2,000-plus pages crammed full of things we are not likely to ever learn about until well after the money is spent. Does that suggest that the members of Congress think it wiser to keep us in the dark? Yes.

AA - Boehner and ObamaThink of it another way, Over the course of the last six years with Obama as President, the House passed some fifty resolutions calling for the repeal of ObamaCare. Were we supposed to take that seriously? Are we going to see legislation repealing, for instance, Obamacare’s medical device tax? Maybe. I will be very interested to see any legislation aimed at undermining ObamaCare because I believe the 114th Congress would prefer to wait for the courts to do that for them.

Boehner knew early on that Obama was a President who had little regard for Congress or, for that matter, the Constitution.

Despite a major rejection of the Democratic Party and Obama’s policies in the 2013 midterm elections, Obama has been acting as if the Party won those elections and they had confirmed his agenda. He has let it be known he has no intention of negotiating, preferring to use his veto power, unilateral executive orders, and to get what he wants via various federal agency regulations.

One of the most important functions of the 114th Congress will be oversight of departments and agencies. Has anyone heard from the Justice Department’s Lois Lerner lately? Any word about the Benghazi tragedy?

Little wonder that, after being elected to his third term as Speaker, Boehner said “All I ask is that we disagree without being disagreeable.” There are 435 members in the House of Representatives and Boehner is responsible primarily for its Republican members. If there are Democrats who are willing to cross the aisle, he will welcome their votes. As in the Senate, they will be needed on occasion.

Regarding the passage of legislation, Boehner said “It’s the real work. It’s a grind. The battle of ideas never ends and frankly never should. We Americans never quit,” adding “Let’s once and for all prove the skeptics wrong.”

It is worth keeping in mind, as Karl Rove reminded us in a Jan 7 commentary, “Every Republican senator and virtually every congressman challenged as insufficiently conservative won their primaries.” The voters have spoken.

As unhappy as many conservatives are with Boehner and those they call RINOs (Republicans in Name Only), Boehner did not sound like a man expressing great joy at having been reelected to what appears to be a very difficult job. That this is his third term suggests that his colleagues in the House have a measure of respect for him that his critics do not.

The House and Senate used to be exclusively an old white man’s club. Now the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader are looking at an extraordinarily diverse membership.

The same day Boehner was reelected Speaker the Congressional Black Caucus hosted a swearing-in ceremony to welcome new and returning members of the House and Senate. There were 46 of them.

Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) will make history as the first black Republican woman in Congress. She and the others represent the largest Black Republican class in Congress since the Reconstruction era. Makes you wonder what those blacks rioting in the streets are so angry about? More than 125 blacks have been elected to Congress over the past forty years, including of course, Barack Obama.

The 114th Congress has been hailed by The Hill as the “Most diverse Congress in history to take power.” There are a record number of female lawmakers at 104, alongside 420 men. Hispanic lawmakers will number 33 with 30 in the House and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in the Senate. There are 12 Asian-Americans and Oklahoma has contributed two Native-Americans.

The Hill reports that “A vast majority of lawmakers identify as Christian, either Protestant or Catholic, along with 16 Mormons.” There are 28 Jews, two Buddhists, two Muslims, and one Hindu.

Think you’d like to have John Boehner’s job or Mitch McConnell’s? To all that diversity add political points of view that range from Far Left to Far Right.

Let me return to my original theory. In the House, though they must face election every two years, I suspect they quickly conclude that there is no satisfying the voters so they might as well vote as they wish. In the Senate where they face election every six years, that goes double or triple.

These are professional politicians. Of the new Congress, ten have been governors, 32 were mayors, and 251 served in state legislatures. It’s a job they have chosen and, frankly, I am glad it is them, not me.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

The Oprah-ization of America

“Feelings, nothing more than feelings. Trying to forget my feelings of love…” Okay folks, I’ll stop singing.

Is it just me or have you noticed that feelings now trump common sense and rational reasoned thinking in America today? Feelings have become more important than national security, our economy, the lives of our troops and even public health when you observe the politically correct way our government is dealing with this Ebola thing. It is insane.

I am not blaming Oprah, but I saw this trend towards everything-being-about-feelings beginning decades ago when the Oprah Winfrey show became the hottest thing on national daytime TV. Has our culture become too feminized?

Before I continue, allow me to admit an embarrassing personal quirk. When I am passionately talking about an issue, I sometimes struggle to hold back tears. Encountering honorable things such as love, courage and goodness also tend to cause me to well up. Every time this happens during a radio or TV interview, I feel humiliated. I ask myself, “Lloyd Marcus what in the world is wrong with you?”

My mom was a very compassionate and emotional person. As her first born, I wonder if I inherited something from her. I rationalize my quirk with the knowledge that Jesus wept for his people. So, I am in good company.

Having said that, I am appalled by the emotion-driven touchy-feely brain-dead metro-sexual idiocy that is running the show in America today. Apparently, somehow I missed the national memo banning testosterone and common sense.

Dad taught my three younger brothers and me to take pride in being men; always try to do the right thing, stand up for what you believe, nobody owes you anything, protect and respect women. Dad instructed, “When you take a girl out on a date it is your responsibility to return her home safely.” That is being a real man.

In our new wimpy America, manhood is no loner celebrated. Respecting women now includes asking a girl’s permission before kissing her. Folks, biology dictates that most women like confidence in their men. Wimpy liberal dudes and hardcore radical feminists do not go nuts and misinterpret my point. I am NOT saying that women like overly aggressive jerks.

All I am saying is that I would not have witnessed the same swooning reaction from my mom to the movie scene in which Burt Lancaster kissed Deborah Kerr on the beach had Lancaster asked permission before kissing her.

America’s obsession with taking a kinder, gentler, careful not to offend or hurt anyone’s feelings approach to everything is out of control.

A few examples…

Guilt feelings over America’s sin of slavery have lead author and Ebola expert David Quammen to suggest that we risk Ebola getting into our country rather than blocking flights from Liberia. So this fool cavalierly advocates putting millions of Americans at risk of contracting Ebola as payback for slavery. This is insanity, folks.

As a child, I remember my grandmother was sent away (quarantined) for over a year because she had tuberculosis. Should my family have raised a stupid emotion driven stink saying there they go again, locking way (enslaving) a black woman? Quarantining my grandmother was the right thing to do; common sense.

Then, there is the disturbing way feelings has been allowed to reign supreme in Ferguson. Cops were instructed, do not come across too aggressive and let the angry looters wreak havoc freely for a night or two. Despite the police super sensitive nuanced response, Ferguson is still a war zone.

Allow me to propose a radical and controversial concept. How about the Ferguson police locking up everyone who breaks the law? I am concerned that feelings, rather than the facts, may factor in the fate of officer Wilson who shot Michael Brown.

A Democrat Missouri state senator said if officer Wilson is not indicted, then the current rioting “will seem like a picnic”. Isn’t such a threat outrageously irresponsible and inflammatory coming from a public official? Oh I forgot, the senator is black and Democrat, so he gets a pass. Never-mind.

Generals are frustrated that we are fighting ISIS with one arm tied behind our back because our Commander-in-Chief feels it would be unfair and mean to unleash the full power of the U.S. Military in defeating our enemies. Such half measures ultimately lead to higher numbers of U.S. troops dying. Its all about feelings folks.

In keeping with the Obama administration’s pattern of using every governmental agency at its disposal to overrule the Constitution, punish its enemies and bully Americans, the FCC is considering a petition to ban the name “Redskins” from being used over the airwaves. Can you believe that folks? Remarkably, Democrats believe being sensitive to the feelings of those who are obsessed with political correctness is worthy of killing the First Amendment.

Everywhere you turn, Constitutional rights, the law and freedom of speech are being overruled by a hypersensitivity to hurting someone’s feelings. Liberals tell us that public expressions of patriotism and wearing a t-shirt displaying an American flag to a California school on Cinco de Mayo is mean because it hurts the feelings of illegals. Don’t you just want to yell, “This is my country! Get over it!”

I know what you are thinking. What about your feelings as a hardworking, law abiding, flag waving, tax paying, play by the rules U.S. citizen? As far as Obama, Hollywood, the MSM and assorted other liberals are concerned, your feelings do not count. Period.

“Feelings, woo-o-o feelings…woo-o-o feelings, again in my arms.”

Raise the Minimum Wage? A Socratic Dialogue by Lawrence W. Reed

The ancient sage Socrates, a giant in the foundation of Western philosophy, was known for a teaching style by which he aggressively questioned his students. He employed his Socratic method as a way to stimulate logical, analytical thought in place of emotive or superficial pronouncement. Rather than lecture or pontificate, he would essentially interrogate. The result was to force his Greek pupils to see the full implications of their conclusions or to realize that what they had accepted as solid was nothing more than the intellectual equivalent of crumbled feta.

In his January 28 State of the Union speech, President Obama called upon the U.S. Congress to enact a hike in the hourly minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. (The dime may have been added because a nice round number without a decimal would sound unscientific.) Economists have long argued that raising thecost of labor, especially for small and start-up businesses, reduces the demand for labor (as with anything else). But Congress may do it anyway—with the usual, oversized measure of self-righteous breast-beating about helping workers. Maybe what members of Congress need is not another lecture on the minimum wage from an economist, but rather an old-fashioned Socratic inquisition. If the old man himself were with us, here’s how I imagine one such dialogue might go:

Socrates: So you want to raise the minimum wage. Why?

Congressman: Because as President Obama says, minimum wage workers haven’t had a raise in five years.

Socrates: Can you name one single worker who was making $7.25 five years ago who is still making $7.25 today? And if you can’t, then please tell me what caused their wage to rise if Congress didn’t do it. Come on, can you name just one?

Congressman: I don’t happen to have a name on me, but they must be out there somewhere.

Socrates: Well, we’ve just been through a deep recession because successive administrations from both parties, plus you lawmakers and your friends at the Fed, created a massive bubble and jawboned banks to extend easy credit. The bust forced many businesses to cut back or close. Now we have the weakest recovery in decades as ever-higher taxes, regulations, and Obamacare stifle growth. No wonder people are hurting! Do you take any responsibility for that, or do you just issue decrees that salve your guilty conscience?

Congressman: That’s water over the dam. I’m looking to the future.

Socrates: But how can you see even six months into a murky future when you refuse to look into the much clearer and more recent past? You guys think the world starts when a problem arises, as if you’re incapable of analyzing the problem’s origin. Maybe that’s why you rarely solve a problem; you just set everybody up to repeat it. If you really look to the future, then why didn’t you see this situation coming?

Congressman: Look, in any event, $7.25 just isn’t enough for anybody to live on. Workers must have more to meet their basic needs.

Socrates: An employer doesn’t have anything to pay an employee except what he first gets from paying customers. I wonder, whose “needs” do you consider when you decide to buy or not to buy: the workers’ or your own? Have you ever offered to pay more than the asking price just to help out the guy who made the product? And if customers like you won’t do that, where do you expect the employer to get the money?

Congressman: That’s not a fair question. My intent here is purely to help.

Socrates: Sounds to me like the answer is “no,” but let’s move on. Why do you assume your intentions mean more to a worker than those of his employer? It’s the employer who’s taking the risk to offer him a job, not you. You’re only making speeches about it. Don’t you see a little hypocrisy here—you, who are personally offering no one a job, self-righteously criticizing others who are actually creating jobs and paying wages even if they’re not all at a wage you like?

Congressman: Employers are interested only in profits.

Socrates: Are you saying employees are not? Are they more interested in working for companies that lose money, and if so, then why don’t they all line up for government jobs?

Congressman: Well, we lose money here in government every year and there are plenty of people who are happy to work for us.

Socrates: You have a printing press. You also have a legal monopoly on force. When you borrow in the capital markets, you shove yourself to the head of the line at everybody else’s expense. Are you saying these are good things and that we’d be better off if the private sector could do these things too? Try to keep up with me here.

Congressman: I repeat, employers are interested only in profits. People before profits, I say! I even have a bumper sticker on my car that says that.

Socrates: So are you saying that employers would be better people if, instead of seeking profits, they tried to break even or run at a loss? How does that add value to the economy or encourage risk-takers to start a business in the first place?

Congressman: You’re trying to belittle me but I went to a state university. All of my sociology, political science and gender studies professors told us that raising the minimum wage is good.

Socrates: Were any of those tenured, insulated, and government-funded pontificators actual job-creating, payroll tax-paying entrepreneurs themselves, ever?

Congressman: That’s beside the point.

Socrates(Sigh.) Figures.

Congressman: Look, $10.10 isn’t much. I think you must be mean-spirited and greedy if you don’t want people to be paid at least $10.10.

Socrates: Yeah, like you guys in government check your personal ambitions at the door when you take office. I’d like to know how you arrived at that number. Was it some sophisticated equation, divine revelation or toss of the dice? Why didn’t you choose $20.00, which is not only a nice round number but also a lot more generous?

Congressman: Well, $20.00 would be too high, for sure. Too much of a jump at once.

Socrates: It sounds like you think the cost of labor might indeed affect the demand for it. Good! That’s progress. You’re not as oblivious about market forces as I thought. What I want to know is why you apparently don’t think higher labor costs matter when you raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. Do you think everyone, regardless of skill level or experience, is automatically worth what Congress decrees? Do you believe in magic, too? How about tooth fairies?

Congressman: Now hold on a minute. I’m for the worker here.

Socrates: Then why on earth would you favor a law that says if a worker can’t find a job that pays at least $10.10 per hour, he’s not allowed to work?

Congressman: I’m not saying he can’t work! I’m saying he can’t be paid less than $10.10!

Socrates: I thought we were making progress, but perhaps not. Can you tell me, if your scheme becomes law, what happens to a worker whose labor is worth only, say, $8.10 because of his low skills, lack of education, scant experience, or a low demand for the work itself? Will employers happily employ him anyway and take a $2.00 loss for every hour he’s on the job?

Congressman: Businesses need workers and $2.00 isn’t much, so common sense and decency would suggest that of course they would.

Socrates: So employers who employ people are too greedy to pay $10.10 unless they’re ordered to, but then when Congress acts, they suddenly become generous enough to hire people at a loss. Who was your logic instructor?

Congressman: Can we hurry this up? I’ve got other plans for other people I have to think about.

Socrates: I give up. You congressmen are incorrigible. You’re the only people on whom my teaching method has no discernible impact.

Congressman: You ask too many questions.

At this point, in utter frustration, Socrates drinks the hemlock. The congressman votes to price many of the nation’s most vulnerable employees out of work and gets reelected.

Whoever warned us to beware of Greeks bearing gifts apparently never met a congressman.

larry reed new thumbABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

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

The Minimum Wage Poison Pill

As we approach the 2014 General Election, with president Barack Obama set to occupy the White House for two more years, the stakes are higher than ever. As usual, Democrats across the country focus on phony issues, such as a Republican “War on Women,” the widening income gap between the rich and the non-rich, and bogus claims of being champions of the middle class.

In terms of domestic policy, they express support for the “middle class,” while doing everything in their power to turn America into a two-class society: the very rich… whose wealth they only wish to plunder… and the very poor, who, in return for an endless array of government handouts, will be expected to do nothing more than to pull the Democrat lever on Election Day.

In foreign affairs, they express outrage over the gruesome crimes of radical Islam… such as the recent beheading of an Oklahoma City woman by a radical Muslim co-worker… yet they oppose any and all effort at what they see as “racial profiling.” They find moral equivalency between the anti-Christian genocide of radical Islam throughout the Middle East, and the bombing of a Birmingham, Alabama abortion clinic in years past.

They express support for high quality public education, but the teachers unions… who own a controlling interest in the Democrat Party… dictate that Democrats oppose any and all voucher proposals, causing the greatest damage to the hopes of minority parents who want to see their children receive a quality education. They ignore the fact that throwing more money at public schools does nothing to increase the quality of a public school education. Instead, at the behest of the teachers unions, they demand that class sizes be reduced, that new school buildings be constructed, and that teacher salaries be increased… all the while regaling their low-information voter base with the cynical lie that Republicans want to “cut benefits to kids.”

They express a desire for the budget discipline of the 1990s… a direct result of Ronald Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policies and the election of a Republican Congress… and they support the notion of cutting the deficit in half, while supporting every new spending scheme hatched by liberal social planners. (In their 2000 platform, they announced that Democrats would entirely eliminate the public debt by the year 2012. Clearly, they had not heard of Barack Obama.)

While expressing a desire to curb the influence of lobbyists, they attempt to convince low-information voters that Republican administrations are dominated by lobbyists for business interests. Yet, no previous administration has been as heavily staffed and influenced by special interests as is the Obama administration. And while they express strong support for an electoral system that is “accessible, auditable, and accurate,” they insist that every attempt to curb vote fraud is nothing more than a Republican scheme to oppress the black vote.

On the healthcare front, they express a desire to provide healthcare insurance for 30-40 million uninsured, to improve the access to and quality of healthcare for all Americans, to substantially reduce the cost of healthcare for everyone, and to do it all without increasing the number of doctors, nurses, and hospitals. Like president Barack Obama, they see no contradictions in any of this. These are obviously people who would promise, with a straight face, that they could stuff 10 lb. of (excrement) into a 5 lb. Bag. All we need to do to make these magical things happen is to elect more Democrats to public office.

Democrats want to use the tax code to discourage the outflow of jobs overseas. Yet they have no problem with the fact that the United States has the highest corporate tax rate of any developed nation. They express a desire to cut taxes for every working family, including those who pay no federal or state income tax, but they exclude tax relief for the “millionaires” who are expected to provide good-paying jobs for the poor and the middle class.

And finally, while fast food workers go on strike demanding a $15.00 per hour minimum wage, a 107 percent increase, Democrats prescribe a poison pill for the U.S. economy with a proposed increase in the federal minimum wage standard from $7.25 cents per hour to $10.10 per hour a 39.3 percent increase. In doing so, they scoff at studies which show that, for each 10 percent increase in the minimum wage, 1-2 percent of jobs in the nation simply go away. For unskilled entry-lever workers, each 10 percent increase in the minimum wage results in a decrease of 4-5 percent in the number of entry-level jobs available… the jobs most often held by teens, the poor, and the unskilled.

According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a majority of those who worked at minimum wage jobs in 2013 were 24 years old, or younger, while only 0.8 percent, less than one in a hundred, of those 24 years old, or older, work for a minimum wage.

Minimum wage increases are major job-killers. According to a 2014 report by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, an increase in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 per hour to $10.10 per hour would reduce the total number of jobs available by approximately 500,000. For the most part, these are the jobs currently held by all those fast food workers who fill the streets, demanding a $15 per hour minimum wage. And if those who clamor for a $15 per hour minimum wage are anxious to learn what happens to a job market with a minimum wage of that magnitude, they won’t have to wait long. In early June 2014, the Seattle city council voted to increase the minimum wage in that city to $15 per hour, the highest in the nation.

A report by the National Restaurant Association (NRA) tells us that, of every dollar of revenue coming into restaurant cash registers, approximately 33 percent goes to salaries and wages. The remainder of that dollar of revenue goes to cover the cost of food and beverages, other costs of doing business, and a small net profit for the owner. According to NRA statistics, the profit margin of restaurants varies, depending on the size of the average check per patron. Those with average checks under $15 per person… e.g., McDonalds, Burger King, Taco Bell, etc… produce average profit margins of 3 percent, while those with checks of $15 to $24.99… e.g., The Olive Garden, Red Lobster, The Cheesecake Factory, etc… produce profit margins of roughly 3.5 percent, the highest in the industry.

According to a recent report by Gingrich Productions, a good measure of the impact of minimum wage laws can be found in the European experience. Among those countries with no minimum wage… Austria, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland… the median unemployment rate is just 5.2 percent, while the median jobless rate stands at 11.1 percent in countries with minimum wage laws… more than twice that of those without minimum wage laws.

But there is a much larger issue than the question of whether we should have a statutory minimum wage of $10.10 or $15 per hour… an issue that Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are not anxious to talk about. I refer to the question that more and more minimum wage workers are asking themselves, which is, “Why should I work 40 hours a week at $10.10 per hour, when I can earn more by staying at home and living off the public dole?”

A 2013 Cato Institute study tells us that, in 33 states and the District of Columbia, welfare benefits pay more than the current $7.25 per hour, while in 13 states, welfare benefits pay more than $15 per hour. In Hawaii, for example, the pre-tax “salary” of stay-at-home welfare recipients is $60,590 per year, or $29.13 per hour when compared to a 40-hour work week, while in Washington, DC, the hourly rate for just staying at home is $24.43 per hour. At the lower end of the spectrum among states where sloth is more lucrative than honest toil, the hourly rate for stay-at-home welfare recipients in South Carolina is $10.53 per hour… 43 cents more than the $10.10 minimum wage proposed by Democrtats.

So what do we do to fix the problem?

Instead of catering cynically to the poorest of the poor as a political constituency, as Democrats do, we should be asking exactly how an individual in this, the land of opportunity and economic freedom, can still be working at a minimum wage job when he/she is 24 years old, or older. That circumstance can only be explained by pointing out that a great many people simply make very bad choices in their lives.

But Democrats are clearly more interested in purchasing a “nanny state” constituency than they are in doing what is necessary to really help people lift themselves out of poverty. As one writer, Charles M. Blow, has said, “Much of what happens in Washington occurs at the intersection of political advantage and earnest intentions.”

What is clear is that we cannot perpetuate a system in which it is more lucrative to take a welfare check than it is to earn an honest living. In order to throw off the bonds of that insanity our options are only two. First, one might ask, why not raise the minimum wage to $25 or $30 per hour so that those who work can earn more than those who don’t, or won’t? The answer is, a $25 or $30 minimum wage would literally wreck whatever is left of our fragile economy and price us completely out of world markets.

The one remaining option is to do what we did in the mid-90s when a Republican-controlled Congress forced a Democrat president, Bill Clinton, to sign what was called “welfare-to-work” legislation, requiring those on public assistance to also find honest employment. The country experienced real economic growth, balanced budgets, and a pay-down in the national debt.

The choice is ours. What was done in the 1990s can be done again. But in order to do that we must first have a president who understands at least a “smidgen” about the intricacies of the U.S. economy. That means that our first priority must be to rid ourselves of Barack Obama, sending him back to his Kenyan roots where he can actually learn a thing or two about micro-economics.

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Sen. McConnell: DISCLOSE Act is “Crude Intimidation Tactic”

Some in the Senate seem to think that there’s too much free speech in our politics and want to silence their opponents. For the third time in four years, Senate Democrats have trotted out a version of their Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act. The bill may be couched in soothing, good government terms, but it would be a hard punch to free speech.

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has relentlessly opposed efforts to limit political speech and in the Washington Examiner defends the First Amendment from this latest assault [emphasis mine]:

As a longtime First Amendment hawk, I have sought to raise the alarm in real time on these multiplying assaults on the First Amendment, from a proposed executive order that would have required applicants for government contracts to disclose their political leanings before they could get a contract, to the significant, targeted harassment of conservative groups that we now know to have taken place at the IRS.

In my view, it is absolutely essential for the integrity of our politics and the health of our democracy that we not grow complacent in the face of these increasingly brazen attacks on free speech — that we recognize them when we see them and call them out for what they are in plain English.

That was my goal this week in publicly testifying against the Democrats’ latest effort to stifle speech. Despite the many other urgent crises we face at the moment, I thought it important to make my way to a hearing of the Senate Rules Committee and speak out against Washington Democrats’ latest iteration of the so-called Disclose Act, because silence on this issue is not an option.

The Disclose Act has become something of a preoccupation for Washington Democrats. Its stated purpose is the forced disclosure of donors to political causes, but the truth is, it’s little more than a crude intimidation tactic masquerading as good government.

Attempts at forced disclosure were used in the past to squelch free speech, as McConnell explains:

Back in the 1950s, the state of Alabama tried to get its hands on the donor list of the NAACP. The Supreme Court correctly ruled against forced disclosure then because it knew that if people had reason to fear that their names and reputations would be attacked because of the causes they support, then they would be far less likely to support them. They knew disclosure would have a chilling effect on free association and free speech.

Bruce Josten, U.S. Chamber Executive Vice President for Government Affairs made similar points in a letter to Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) on the Senate Rules Committee. The clear purpose of the bill, Josten wrote, “is to upend irretrievably core First Amendment political speech protections” by “chilling the political speech of the business community and others engaged in the political process.” At the same time it is “blatantly political and ultimately unconstitutional legislation that detracts from much more significant efforts to solve challenges confronting America.”

U.S. Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue put it succinctly last year, “If you don’t like what someone is saying, argue with them (but do it politely). Don’t try to silence them.” First Amendment defenders like Senator McConnell understand how important that principle is for our country.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is by photographer: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg.

The Immigration Crisis, National Socialism and Mark Zuckerberg’s Property Rights

The crisis on the Mexican border is worsening by the hour. In his latest FIREWALL titled “Where do you live, Mark Zuckerberg?”, Bill Whittle hammers home three devastating points regarding the dangerous legal precedents, the morally gray areas, and the hypocritical pose of unearned moral superiority on the part of those proposing amnesty and open borders.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/zkN4XiqRnrE[/youtube]

 

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of The Guardian.

Ronald Reagan was the TEA Party!

Newly re-elected Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) on CNN’s Jake Tapper show stated, “I’m a conservative. I’ve governed as a conservative in this state, and I think that’s led to some people disagreeing with me in our state, because it’s generally a left-of-center, blue state.”

But is Christie truly a conservative?

Republicans, like Christie, often quote Ronald Reagan when speaking about conservatism. In September 2011 Christie spoke at the Reagan Library, his topic was “Real American Exceptionalism“. Christie focused on Ronald Reagan’s stand against striking air traffic controllers in 1981. Christie said, “The air traffic controllers, in violation of their contracts, went on strike.  President Reagan ordered them back to work, making clear that those who refused would be fired. In the end, thousands refused, and thousands were fired. I cite this incident not as a parable of labor relations but as a parable of principle. Ronald Reagan was a man who said what he meant and meant what he said. Those who thought he was bluffing were sadly mistaken.  Reagan’s demand was not an empty political play; it was leadership, pure and simple.”

“We tend to still understand foreign policy as something designed by officials in the State Department and carried out by ambassadors and others overseas. And to some extent it is. But one of the most powerful forms of foreign policy is the example we set. This is where it is instructive to harken back to Ronald Reagan and the PATCO affair. President Reagan’s willingness to articulate a determined stand and then carry it out at home sent the signal that the occupant of the Oval Office was someone who could be predicted to stand by his friends and stand up to his adversaries. If President Reagan would do that at home, leaders around the world realized that he would do it abroad as well.  Principle would not stop at the water’s edge,” noted Christie.

Reagan’s policies were based upon in what has become known as his “three legged stool”. Some call them the “Three Pillars of Conservatism”.

Kevin Price from Renew America writes, “If you know of Ronald Reagan, you are likely to be aware of his ‘three legged stool.’ Reagan developed a success formula to build winning coalitions that was as simple as it was brilliant. A sample of that simplicity and one of the hallmarks of Reagan’s policies was his ‘three legged stool.’ Reagan’s policies were built on three ideas; free enterprise, strong defense, and pro-family social policies. He chose these three because they, of course, reflected his own values, but he also realized that each of these ideas have enormous appeal on their own.”

Reagan was a man of principle, true conservatives are as well. Compromise on matters of principle is foreign to conservatives. Conservatives intuitively know that compromise on principles is the art of losing slowly.

J. Matt Barber from Christian News Today in his column “The Complete Conservative” writes, “I recently attended the Ronald Reagan Centennial Celebration hosted by the Republican Party of Virginia. It was co-sponsored by, among others, the Ronald Reagan Institute for Conservative Leadership. Michael Reagan, the oldest child of the man widely considered our greatest modern president, was the keynote speaker. Mr. Reagan said something that I think concisely sums up the core values shared by the ragtag millions who comprise the Tea Party movement. ‘People often ask me if Ronald Reagan would have supported the Tea Party,” he said. ‘Ronald Reagan was the Tea Party’.”

Speculation about who is the frontrunner for in the 2016 presidential Republican primaries has begun. The media always frames the Republican selection process as a need to run as a conservative in order to win the primary but run as a moderate in order to win the White House. That strategy was unsuccessful for both John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Price wrote, “Today, the common cry from economic conservatives is that they are the only ones with a message that matters to the voting public. After 40 years of Roe vs. Wade, we have two generations who only know a country with abortion on demand, they argue. Secondly, many conservatives have grown suspicious of ‘the military’ leg. They believe that just as the government has gotten suspicious in its domestic spending, it has also lost its bearings when it comes to defense and has found itself being internationalists with muscle. Essentially, ‘the three legged stool’ is being replaced by a pogo stick. A single area of interest and concern — the economy, being the springboard for political success.”

Price concludes, “The reality is the ‘three legged stool’ tripled the reasons why one would vote Republican. If the GOP provides the only means to protect traditional families, Christian conservatives will support it, regardless of the other legs of the stool. I think the same can be [said] of the other parts of a coalition that made the Republican Party very successful. If the stool is dead, the fortunes of the party may be also.”

Has the GOP adopted a “pogo stick” as the only path for political success? If so, losses as far as the eye can see may occur, as they did in Virginia, a state that could have elected the conservative Ken Cuccinelli.

Barry Goldwater wrote, “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!”

It not the economy stupid, its the three legged stool!

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