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Biden’s Handlers Want You to Cough Up $6.4 Billion to Resettle 94,000 Afghans in the U.S.

My latest in PJ Media:

Old Joe Biden’s handlers have asked Congress for $30 billion, which means that you better brace yourselves for significant tax increases in the near future. According to NBC News,  $23.6 billion of this is slated to go to deal with the devastation from Hurricane Ida and other natural disasters; the other $6.4 billion, meanwhile, is to cover the expenses of resettling 94,000 Afghans in the United States. And really, now, what could possibly go wrong?

NBC explained that “the U.S. anticipates bringing 64,000 Afghans to the U.S. by the end of this month and 30,000 over the next 12 months, the official said. Of the funding for the refugees, $2.4 billion will go to pay for the Defense Department’s operations overseas where the Afghans are being held and processed. An additional $1.7 billion will go to the Department of Health and Human Services to provide funding and resources to the Afghans to help them set up a new home in the U.S.”

This U.S. taxpayer money would also “go to support transportation costs between overseas processing sites and the United States, security screenings, humanitarian assistance, public health screenings and vaccinations. The administration official said Afghans ‘will receive similar benefits to refugees.’ After 12 months in the U.S., the Afghans will be eligible to apply to become LPRs — lawful permanent residents — and receive so-called ‘green cards.’”

And of course all of the applicants will get those green cards no matter what they have done, up to and including slitting the throat of a woman for committing the crime of having a job, as an Afghan migrant did a few days ago in Germany. What are Western authorities going to do — deport them back to Afghanistan? With the Taliban reaching new lows in human rights abuses practically every day, there is zero chance of that. The Afghan evacuees are here to stay.

While this may thrill naïve multiculturalists and Catholic bishops, there are good reasons to temper our enthusiasm about all this. Let’s assume, although we don’t really have any good reason to do so in light of the Biden administration’s refusal to admit the reality of the global Islamic jihad, that the security screenings this $6.4 billion will pay for are completely, one-hundred-percent effective. Does that mean that the people who will soon be our neighbors will have no trouble whatsoever adjusting to American society?

Consider, for example, the fact that according to a Pew Research Center survey in 2013 (and there is no reason to think anything has changed since then), 73% of Afghans believe that Islamic law, Sharia, is not devised by human beings, but is the perfect and unalterable law of Allah. There are plenty of people in America now who believe that, but fully 99% of the Afghans surveyed stated that they believed Sharia should be the law of the land. Might any of them be among Biden’s handlers’ 94,000 evacuees? Might they have difficulty accepting a secular republic in which the government derives its authority not from Allah, but from the consent of the governed?

There is more. Read the rest here.

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White Muslim CNN Contributor Claims His ‘White Card’ Was Revoked After 9/11

Why Leftists Hate Clint Eastwood So Much

France: Jihadi begins trial by professing Islamic faith, former president says jihadis just want to ‘divide us’

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

Federal Government Imposes Up to $14,000 in ‘Hidden Taxes’ on Households Every Year, New Report Reveals

Most Americans pay close attention to how much of their money is taken in taxes each year. But there’s another, less obvious way the federal government imposes financial costs on citizens—and according to a new report, it amounts to trillions annually.

The fiscally-conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) just released its annual “Ten Thousand Commandments” report, which documents the “size, scope, and cost of federal regulations, and how they affect American consumers, businesses, and the U.S. economy at large.” Report author Clyde Wayne Crews explains how we face a “hidden tax” from the economic burden of our massive regulatory state. After all, tens of thousands of new regulations are imposed every year.

The report estimates the economic costs of federal regulation at an astounding $1.9 trillion annually.

To put that abstract sum in context, it’s nearly as much as the federal government collects in income and corporate taxes in a year. And a country that produced $1.9 trillion in output would be the 8th largest economy in the world (excluding the US). $1.9 trillion is more in economic output than Brazil or Italy produce in an entire calendar year.

Much of this $1.9 trillion in “hidden taxes” is ultimately borne by everyday Americans. To understand why, simply remember that regulations increase the costs associated with production. An unnecessary environmental regulation, for example, may force companies to take more cost-intensive steps during the production process. Ultimately, this leads to higher prices at the check-out line.

The CEI report explains that if we assume the costs all ultimately fall on consumers, then it equates to up to $14,368 in annual costs per US household.

This is a huge hit to the wallet. $14,368 in annual regulatory costs amounts to roughly 23 percent of the average household’s spending budget. It’s more than the typical household spends on food, transportation, healthcare, or anything except housing.

Oh, and don’t forget the $88 billion in taxpayer money spent by federal agencies each year just to administer, implement, and police these regulations.

The takeaway here is broader than just the financial impact of federal regulation, as significant as that may be. It’s yet another reminder that, as economist Frédéric Bastiat famously identified, the costs of government go beyond the obvious, what is “seen,” and extend to the “unseen.”

Of course, when it comes to the ever-expanding federal government, the most obvious cost is what the politicians in Washington, DC take from us in taxes every year. But this new report further proves that the unseen, hidden costs of the federal government’s growing involvement in economic life are even more drastic than what comes directly out of our paychecks.

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

Going Postal, Again: The USPS is in the red for the eighth straight year by DOUG BANDOW

The United States Postal Service (USPS) lost $5.5 billion last year. That is the eighth annual loss in a row and the third-highest ever. The only silver lining is that the loss was below the red-ink tsunami of $15.9 billion in 2012.

Why does the federal government deliver the mail? Why does it have a monopoly over delivering the mail?

Admittedly, the Postal Service is one of the few government programs with actual constitutional warrant. The Constitution authorizes Congress to establish post offices. And early American politicians rushed to take advantage of their opportunity, creating the Post Office Department in 1792.

Alas, one-time revolutionaries turned the system into a fount of federal patronage. Local postmasters became perhaps the president’s most important appointments, at one time accounting for three-quarters of all federal employees. The postmaster general actually was a member of the cabinet from 1829 to 1971.

With politics rather than service as the post office’s priority, Congress took the next step and approved the Private Express Statutes, which prevented anyone from competing with the government in delivering first-class mail. And Uncle Sam enforced his monopoly, fining would-be competitors, including celebrated libertarian author Lysander Spooner.

The feds continue to prosecute anyone with the temerity to compete with the USPS, even threatening the Cub Scouts for once offering to deliver Christmas cards.

Believing that Americans existed to serve the USPS left the system ill-equipped to adapt to changing circumstances. In 1971, Congress turned the Post Office Department into the semi-independent USPS. That removed its direct role in politics, but the USPS still is exempt from taxes and regulations, including local parking restrictions. Congress retained its control over postal policies and, of course, preserved the system’s delivery monopoly.

But banning competition could not preserve the postal market. The number of pieces of mail peaked in 2001 and continues to fall despite a rising population. Mail pieces dropped from 213 billion in 2006 to 155 billion last year, and the number is expected to decline to 130 billion by 2020. The USPS’s last profitable year was 2006. Since then, losses have run between $2.8 billion and $15.9 billion. The Postal Service has maxed out its borrowing from Uncle Sam and missed four retiree program payments. With characteristic understatement, the Government Accountability Office observed, “Given its financial problems and outlook, USPS cannot support its current level of service and operations.”

The postal unions insist that nothing is wrong — at least, nothing that a federal bailout wouldn’t solve. They reserve particular ire for the requirement that the USPS prefund workers’ retirement. Had this rule not been in place, noted former postmaster general Patrick Donahoe, the Postal Service would have earned money last year.

But prefunding protects taxpayers. Washington’s unfunded (government) retirement liability is about $800 billion and growing every year. That no other agency is required to prefund is unfair to taxpayers, not the Postal Service, since every agency should have to set aside sufficient money to fulfill its financial promises. With the Postal Service earning too little to pay and with nothing left of its federal credit line, the USPS has defaulted four times over the last three years on its mandated contributions.

Even Donahoe acknowledged that prefunding is appropriate. He contacted me after I wrote about the issue a couple of years ago and disputed only the amount the USPS should set aside. He said he asked postal workers what they thought of an unfunded system in light of Detroit’s bankruptcy, when city coffers were empty.

The unions may simply assume that Congress would bail them out if need be. Legislators normally can be counted on to do the wrong thing, but with the unfunded liability for Social Security and Medicare around $100 trillion, there won’t be a lot of cash available when the big retirement bills come due. Tens of millions of elderly retirees have the edge in fighting with postal workers over a diminishing public pot. The postal workers shouldn’t bet their retirement on winning that political battle.

There’s no other obvious way for the USPS to become solvent. Over the last half-century, the postal authorities raised rates 50 percent faster than the rate of inflation. Pushing hikes even faster in the future would encourage more people to use alternatives. Squeezing postal consumers would work only for truly essential first-class delivery services, but what are they? Bills are paid online; digital magazines and greeting cards go instantly and inexpensively. Junk mail trumps online spam only in the ability to blanket every address in a neighborhood.

The USPS has reduced costs through facility closures and staff reductions despite strong opposition. Cuts in compensation, retirement benefits, and workforce levels and improvements in productivity also are obvious responses, but they must overcome union opposition. Proposals for reducing services abound: end Saturday delivery, cut delivery to just three or four days a week, close more post offices, stop door-to-door delivery (with neighborhood “cluster boxes”). All of these anger consumers, encouraging them to go elsewhere — including to Federal Express and UPS, which offer better options for packages. Irritated workers and customers also complain to Congress, creating political roadblocks for the USPS.

Odder ideas involve offering services that already are widely available, such as check cashing and photocopying. Perhaps the strangest, from the Greeting Card Association, is to transform post offices into “centers of continuous democracy” and offer “community bulletin boards, licenses, permit applications, [and] citizen polling/opinion gathering.” In other words: a bizarre mix of political activism and government regulation, with no obvious way to raise the billions annually needed to balance the books.

Instead of attempting to save an unnecessary political monopoly, Congress should look abroad, where numerous countries, some pushed by the European Union, have introduced competition and innovation into their postal markets. Even such unlikely states as Indonesia, Russia, and Sweden have pursued postal liberalization.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, made up of wealthy industrialized states, including the United States, reported that such reforms have yielded “quality of service improvements, increases in profitability, increases in employment and real reductions in prices.” Only in the supposed laissez-faire paradise of America — where a union-led “Grand Alliance to Save Our Public Postal Service” just formed to ensure that whatever has been will forever be — do such ideas seem radical.

Even President Barack Obama appeared to get it. A few years back, he admitted, “It’s the post office that’s always having problems.” In contrast, “UPS and FedEx are doing just fine.” That suggests an obvious solution.

Better management and less politics would help. In fact, revenue was up a bit last year, much of it for package delivery, despite the bigger loss. But over the long term, the USPS cannot escape from a seeming death spiral of bigger losses, higher rates, poorer services, fewer customers, bigger losses, and so on.

Uncle Sam should get out of the postal business. Privatize the USPS and drop the federal first-class monopoly. No one can say for sure what would happen. But if history is a guide, innovative entrepreneurs would be more likely to find cost-effective solutions than will today’s mix of politicians and bureaucrats.

ABOUT DOUG BANDOW

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and the author of a number of books on economics and politics. He writes regularly on military non-interventionism.