Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at thinking, intelligent individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

27 December 2014

The Obama Opposition to Pipeline Construction Lowers Our Future Standard of Living

Obama has delayed and opposed the Keystone XL Pipeline section proposed to bring Canadian "oil" from Alberta to Nebraska, where it will be picked up by existing pipelines.  Obama claims that having more oil available in North America is hardly important, since oil is a world market commodity whose price is set in the world market.  He claims that the Keystone XL Pipeline is “not even a nominal benefit for U.S. consumers.”

The Keystone XL pipeline will allow large amounts of Canadian "oil" (really largely bitumen) to reach our many Gulf Coast oil refineries which are expert in refining hard-to-refine oils such as the almost vanishing supply of Venezuela.  The despotic regime there has almost totally destroyed the Venezuelan oil fields and extraction industry.  One of the good results of the Keystone XL Pipeline is to replenish the supply of crude oil for these refineries.  Another is that the pipeline will also pick up oil from the Bakken oil shale formation in North Dakota and Montana.  This in turn might fuel the investment in new oil refineries in Nebraska or nearby states.  It might then give rise to further industrial manufacture of petroleum products in that area of the country.

The Obama administration and those of states with Democrat governors and legislatures are generally negative with respect to the building of other pipelines as well.  For instance, proposed pipelines to serve the gigantic Marcellus Shale Oil and Gas Formation of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and No-Fracking New York have been delayed by government actions.  The result has been that natural gas prices have locally become particularly depressed because the natural gas produced cannot be taken to more lucrative markets in other areas of the US.  This is not optimal market behavior.

While it is true that the price of oil is mostly set by world markets, it is not true that the effects of where oil is found, how it is delivered to refineries, where the refineries are located, and how the refined hydrocarbon products are moved from the refinery to market are insignificant to American consumers or manufacturers.  There are deleterious consequences when government prevents the private sector from optimizing the efficient delivery of petroleum products to American consumers.

Let us consider the product whose price affects all Americans and with which most of us have a considerable experience -- regular gasoline.  If the entire infrastructure I described in the previous paragraph had no effect on the cost of regular gasoline, then after we subtract the sum of the federal and state gasoline taxes from the average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in each state, the remaining cost would be the same.  Yes, the cost has a component with is related to the cost of the oil, but even that cost has costs of delivery to the refinery built into it.  The cost of operating the refinery is another variable.  Then the cost of transporting the refined product to the market in each state in the US is still another variable.  There are still more retail costs.

So, let us examine how much variation in the cost of the pre-tax regular gasoline there is.  I am using the average state prices from AAA of the early morning hours of 25 December 2014.  The state taxes are those of April 2014 generally.  I have used the rolling month by month tax for Indiana for the month of December 2014.  Upon subtracting the state and federal tax from the current average sale price of gasoline in each state, one finds that the lowest price on delivery for gasoline is in the state of Missouri.  Kansas and Ohio are almost as inexpensive.  Oklahoma produces much oil, has refineries, and has many pipelines, so it is not a surprise that it is the next least expensive.  Kentucky is next, then Alabama, then Texas, Minnesota, Michigan, Iowa, and then Indiana and Illinois.  Texas with its rich supply of oil, its many refineries, and its ports is closely tied to the world markets.  One might expect that it would be the lowest cost state, but the world market activity there may actually pull up the cost to Texas consumers.  Yet, if so, the upward effect of the world market is small since Texas gasoline at the pump is actually only slightly more expensive than in Missouri.  Much bigger effects are found for Hawaii and Alaska, both of which have consumers far from refineries and no pipelines to deliver refined products.

Each extra cent added to the cost of regular gasoline causes $1.4 billion more in the economy to be spent on gasoline and diverted from other uses.  The 2013 US GDP was $16,768.1 billion, so $1.4 billion/$16.768.1 billion = 0.0000835 or 0.00835%.  Each extra dollar in gasoline cost is then equal to a cost to the economy of 0.835% of GDP.  We can now measure the cost of gasoline in each state relative to the cheapest state of Missouri as a fraction of the GDP, if that state were representative of the entire GDP.  In other words, the cost of gasoline effectively shifts the nature of the economy of that state in a manner equivalent to its being a part of an economy with such a change in the growth rate of the GDP each year.  The number in the last column of the table below is the effective percentage by which each state's GDP is lowered relative to that of the lowest cost state of Missouri.

Hawaii and Alaska have such high costs for gasoline delivery that those states have an effective lowering of their GDPs of 1.048% and 1.014%, respectively.  Not surprisingly, Vermont, being a low population density and somewhat remote state, not to mention a very green state, has very expensive gasoline causing a 0.524% reduction in its GDP.  New York is next worst with a 0.441% reduction of GDP.  Some of New York's diminished GDP is due to its opposition to fracking to take advantage of the Marcellus Shale or Utica Shale formation in western New York.  Some is likely due to a reticence to build adequate pipelines or to host oil refineries.  Some is due to the dominance of New York City, which is easily supplied with petroleum products by sea, but still has high costs such as for fuel storage and gas stations due to a very high population density and for an exceedingly high cost government.

Now given the new Obama normal of a real GDP growth rate of about 2% a year and a population increase of about 0.9% a year, we have a dismal real per capita GDP rate of growth of about 1.1% a year.  A generation is traditionally taken to be about 22 years, but with American women waiting much longer to have children, an American generation is now about 31 years.  If a state has among the best-served oil and gasoline product infrastructure and market systems, let us say it is better than the present national average in its effective GDP growth rate by about 0.15%.  Those served more poorly, such as New York State and New England, have growth rates depressed by about 0.15%.

What is the difference for the real per capita standard of living improvement over a generation of 31 years?  The better oil and gasoline market system states have a growth rate of about 1.25% per year, while those with the less well-functioning market systems grow at a rate of about 0.95%, ignoring other factors affecting growth rates.  The better served gasoline markets experience an increased standard of living of 47.0% over a generation, while the more poorly served states would have an increased standard of living of 34.1%.  This difference is not insignificant for people who have children, for people who live 2 to 3 generations long, or simply for people of a benevolent nature.

This is just the effect of gasoline prices as well and does not consider the many other products of oil.  Other products from oil include lubricants, diesel fuel, heating oil, aviation fuel, greases, asphalts, paraffin, and cutting oils.  Resins made from products refined from oil are used to make plastics, paint, sealants, adhesives, and composite materials.  The lowered prices of these products have already had an impact on reviving manufacturing in the USA.

What is more, the same viewpoint that opposes the use of oil, the building of pipelines, the building of refineries, and other facilities and infrastructure that make the petroleum products markets highly efficient, causes many inefficiencies in other industries and commercial endeavors which also lower our standard of living, especially over generations of time.

23 December 2014

State of the Jobs Recovery -- What Recovery?

Any time a new Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report comes out with a positive number of people hired, Democrat Socialists cheer and proclaim Obama a wise and great socialist leader.  Let us put some perspective on the current state of employment in the USA:

The percentage of the population 16 and over employed according to the BLS is:

Yes, the average slope from the bottom of the recession unemployment well is positive.  But the extent of the recovery is still, after 8 years, very small.  Years ago, without very detrimental federal government policies, we would have recovered to the point of returning to employment rates close to those established in the 2004 through 2006 period.  The employment rate is now more than 4% lower than in late 2006 and more than 3% lower than early 2004.  But the never-to-be-detered Progressive Elitist only sees the data from the bottom of the dip in October 2013 to the small peak in November 2014 and attributes that increase in employment to their man Obama.

A sane man asks, "What change of Obama's policies do they imagine might have caused about a 1% improvement over that one year period?"  I do not see that he has accomplished anything that would help the economy, except having lost Democrat control of the House of Representatives in the 2010 election and then for most of this year looking as though he was going to lose control of the Senate in the 2014 election as well.  The looming loss and then the loss itself of the Democrat Socialist Senate surely did something positive to fuel the increasing optimism of the many small businessmen polled by the NFIB.

Let us look at the BLS data on the Labor Participation Rate for those 16 and older:

It sure is hard to find any good news here.  The labor participation rate is doing nothing but going downhill.

Let us look at the full-time employment rate and the under-employed rates for Americans 18 and over according to Gallup:

Payroll to population percentage counts those who are employed at least 30 hours a week.  Gallup uses the entire population, not just that part of a certain working age range population to calculate the percentage.  The 30 hour or more percentage has remained remarkably flat from the depths of the employment recession in 2010.  The percentage of people underemployed includes those who are part-time or unemployed.  These are all people who want to and can work more.  These underemployed people have been decreasing somewhat, but since the percentage with full-time employment has not increased, this means that more and more of them have simply dropped out of the labor force, consistent with the Labor Force Participation graph of the BLS shown above.  Their numbers are decreasing only because they are losing their desire to work.

People lose their desire to work when they see no hope for a decent job.  They lose their desire to work when they see that being on welfare provides them with more benefits than working does.  This removal of Americans from the working force is the one and only accomplishment of Obama.  It works for him and the many Progressive Elitists who want more and more people dependent upon the mercies of Big Government for their survival and therefore eager to vote for more socialism.

22 December 2014

Socialist Vermont Shoots Down Super-Expensive Single-Payer Health Care

Gov. Shumlin of the highly socialist state of Vermont shutdown the necessary request to the legislature for the taxes needed to fund the Green Mountain Care state health plan.  This Vermont single-payer health plan was going to require an 11.5% payroll tax on businesses and a 9.5% income tax in addition to the income tax the state already has on those making four times the poverty level income or more.  Vermont already has a top income tax rate of 8.95%, a 6% sales tax, and a 8.5% corporate income tax.  Shumlin reluctantly admitted that the state could not levy such heavy taxes without putting many businesses out-of-business and without many businesses leaving the state.  He said that given that Vermont was still feeling the effects of the Great Recession, this was a particularly bad time to implement a state-run single-payer health system.

Vermont had initially estimated an annual cost of $2.2 billion for the plan for its 627,000 citizens.  The state had received $45 million to study the implementation of a single-payer system from the Obama's Department of Health and Human Services, which hoped Vermont would pave the path to a national single-payer or totally socialized medical system.  William Hsiao of Harvard and Jonathan Gruber of MIT served as consultants.  A more careful look by Vermont accountants put the increased tax revenue needed at $2.6 billion.  Vermont's total tax revenues now are $2.85 billion, so total state tax revenues would have to almost be doubled.  Projected revenues had to be scaled back by $75 million a year due to the lingering effects of the recession.  The state realized it would get $150 million less in federal cost coverage than they expected to set up the system and that they would get another $150 million less in Medicaid assistance from the federal government than they had earlier thought they would.  Setting up the plan was estimated to cost an additional $500 million.

As I have pointed out many times, it is a fiction that the business paid payroll tax is not paid by employees.  All payroll costs are a cost of employment for employees.  They are all compensation for the labor of all employees.  The greater the payroll tax, whether it is Workman's Compensation, unemployment tax, Medicare, Social Security, a withholding tax, an ObamaCare tax, or a Green Mountain Care tax, the lower the compensation that can be offered an employee.  If an employee's addition to the company revenue is not enough to cover all of these tax costs, all of his take-home pay, and other operational costs incurred to provide him with a job, then the employee is not hired or is let go by any rational employer.  This Green Mountain Care plan in Vermont was going to require a 21% increased cost of employment for a company's most value employees minus whatever the employer might be currently paying into health care plans minus whatever wage decreases ensued.  Employees closer to the poverty level would cost somewhere between 11.5% to 21% more depending upon the progressive explicit tax on their income.

As Gov. Shumlin noted, it was particularly difficult to impose these costs given the failure to recover from the effects of the Great Recession.  What is more, any knowledgeable observer has learned that the cost estimates for new government programs are almost always too low.  They are usually much too low.

Of course, while acknowledging that there was no way to practically implement a single-payer health system in Vermont at this time, Shumlin, as a good Progressive Elitist, continued to maintain that it was the Ideal.  Progressive Elitists never actually consider the costs of their programs to be too high and they never ask what the costs displace in other options individuals might have for their time, effort, property, and money.  Their choices and dreams always take precedent over those of others and they are willing to use force to make sure that every individual accedes to that precedence.

All this for a health care system that is sure to deteriorate into another shabby equivalent of the Veteran's Administration System of an unavailable, highly rationed, low-quality, wait-forever, bureaucratic, vindictive, and dishonest morass that treats its patients like peons.  Of course, individuals who do not retain their individual rights are just that -- peons, serfs, begging servants and dependents of the state.

There must be a few individuals in Vermont who are much relieved by the failure of this Great Socialist Dream.  Indeed, Gov. Shumlin nearly lost his re-election bid to Republican Scott Milne, who ran against the Shumlin-backed Green Mountain Care.  Would Milne have won the election if the newer costs and tax estimates had been made available before the election?  Only 2,095 votes separated the two candidates for Governor.

16 December 2014

Ideological Reeducation in the Education System

This is the time of year when many high school seniors are applying to colleges for admission.  Many of these seniors have already undergone extensive instruction in the government-run schools they have attended on politically correct thinking.  Teachers recommendations for college admission are often heavily influenced by their assessments of the politically correct thinking of the candidate student.  With massive grade inflation, extra-curricular activities and teacher recommendations become more important than any actual accomplishments of learning and thinking in many cases.  In some states, there are mandatory requirements for public service to graduate.  Even in high school, the coercive forces pushing students into accepting and swearing allegiance with politically correct viewpoints are massive and well beyond the ability of many students to resist with an independent mind.

It only gets worse in colleges today.  The worst and most blatant case to my knowledge was the extremely overt coercive reeducation program in 2007 at the University of Delaware.  The politically correct viewpoints in force there are found on many college campuses today, though the systematic effort to coerce students into accepting those viewpoints is somewhat relaxed.  I would strongly advise students trying to select a college to review the freedom of conscience at a college by reviewing its codes and requirements at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education or FIRE as it is commonly called.

The reeducation program at the University of Delaware required all students not living at home to attend meetings in their university housing.  They were required to attend a meeting about every two weeks, managed by a Residential Associate (RA).  Among the requirements was a "diversity facilitation training" session in which students were to be forced to acknowledge that

[a] racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system.  The term applies to all white people ( i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality.

This is nonsense.  There certainly are white racists, but so too are their black, Hispanic, and Asian racists.  What is more, if the definition were true, there is little value in attending any sessions managed by any white person.  What is still worse, what is the point of any white student attending such a session if he or she is doomed forever to be a racist anyway?  Are they supposed to become less racist, yet have no chance of being free of racism?

This definition has one purpose only.  It is to subjugate all white people by designating them as inferior racists.  Once a white person acknowledges that he is and will always be a racist, he is supposed to become more compliant to the arbitrary wishes of those who are defined as non-racists.  Non-racist or simply non-white people are not obliged to make any effort at all not to brand all white people as inferior.  Indeed, they are actually required to view all white people as inferior because they are all uniquely guilty of racism and incapable of escaping their racism.

The University of Delaware RAs were required to ask students "When did you discover your sexual identity?"  This is certainly a question many students would not care to answer and a violation of their reasonable privacy.  What is more, at the age of a university student, most still are developing their sexuality, though such a fact was likely unappreciated by many RAs and even by those who were managing them.  Some of the RA-run sessions told students they had to act as though they were gay during the sessions.

Among other purposes of the University of Delaware program were:
  • "Students will recognize that systemic oppression exists in our society."
  • "Students will recognize the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression."
  • "Students will be able to utilize their knowledge of sustainability to change their daily habits and consumer mentality."
Presumably, recognizing the benefits of dismantling systems of oppression would require all political offices to be held by non-whites since any white person is a racist by definition.  Every manager in every company would have to be a non-white person.  All non-commercial organizations would also have to be run by non-white people.  This is immediately the logical conclusion of accepting the combination of all white people are racists and all systems of oppression should be dismantled.  How odd it is that people actually go to a university for an education and to further develop their minds when the institution holds such nonsensical ideas and is clearly in violation of its own moral standards that all faculty and managerial administrative positions must be filled by non-whites!

To see how oppressively the reeducation system at the University of Delaware was operated, see this article.

Let us take a moment and examine Brown University, from which I graduated before politically correct thought was fully cemented in place.  Brown has a very restrictive definition of sexual harassment, as just one of its restrictions on freedom.  Of course Brown is not a public institution, but a private one, so it does have a right to restrict student freedom in a way a public colleges would not have.  This does not mean that freedom-restrictive policies are rational and conducive to the development of inquisitive minds, however.  Brown University says:

Examples of sexual harassment include:
* Uninvited touching or hugging
* Requesting sexual favors for rewards related to school or work
* Suggestive jokes of a sexual nature
* Sexual pictures or displays
* Continuing unwelcome flirtation or propositions
* Obscene gestures or sounds
* Written notes of a sexual nature

So much for Brown students learning to write love sonnets!  As for uninvited hugs, a certain young scientist who sometimes visits my lab, always gives me a hug.  I never invited her to do so, but fortunately for both of us, I enjoy her hugs.  She had best stay away from Brown!

Examples of the kinds of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
1. Unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations, solicitations, and flirtations. …
3. Unwelcome verbal expressions of a sexual nature, including graphic sexual commentaries about a person’s body, dress, appearance, or sexual activities; the unwelcome use of sexually degrading language, jokes or innuendoes; unwelcome suggestive or insulting sounds or whistles; obscene phone calls.
4. Sexually suggestive objects, pictures, videotapes, audio recordings, computer communications, or literature placed in the work or study area, that may embarrass or offend individuals.
Important: Sexual Harassment need not be intentional. Under Brown’s sexual harassment policies, the intent of the person who is alleged to have behaved improperly is not relevant to determining whether a violation of Brown’s policy has occurred. The relevant determination is whether a reasonable person could have interpreted the alleged behavior to be sexual.

Note that intention is not of significance in Brown's policy.  Neither is an accused offender given the refuge that he is not a sexual offender if a reasonable person might not have interpreted the alleged behavior to be sexual.  This is an important difference which would in most cases of law be recognized.  Of course Brown is a private institution so it has the right to have the policy it has, however irrational it may be.

How can one ever be sure that someone you request sex from will welcome your request?  People have free will and they are complex and often hard to understand.  So anyone going to Brown really ought to be asexual and determined to pass through its ivy-covered halls without experiencing sex.  It is simply a very dangerous proposition at Brown University.  Yet Brown University has something called Sex Week which is by all reports a time of rather free sex and at the least a week of many sexual flirtations.  Is Brown University simply a massive example of Progressive Elitist hypocrisy?

Pennsylvania State University and many other state universities have similar ideas of what constitutes impermissible sexual harassment.  These policies restrict freedom of speech, the exchange of significant ideas, and learning about one of the most complex and beneficial aspects of life on Earth.  Young people in college are still very much of an age in which their sexuality is in need of development and understanding.  In that complex process, errors will be made.  Such errors should not be too easily labeled sexual harassment and should not be facilely made fatal.  Mind you, I say this as the father of three daughters and one who as a young man was gentlemanly to a fault with the young ladies.  In fact, much of the Brown guidelines are based on reasonable ideas of good manners and their violations in some cases are sexual harassment.  The problem is that the package is excessive, it fails to account for numerous reasonable exceptions, and it makes a hanging offense of petty larceny.

Yes, Brown and the University of Delaware are on a mission to populate the world with Progressive Elitists.  And as you know if you have read many of my posts, I see nearly all Progressive Elitists as hypocrites.  It is very difficult to find a university these days which is not dominated by Progressive Elitists and which does not regard its mission as the indoctrination of students so that they will also become Progressive Elitists.  To be sure, those that are highly selective colleges try to eliminate students with very independent minds in their admissions policies.  It is much easier and a more certain outcome is likely when the student is somewhat bright, but highly docile and easily programmable.  To Brown's eternal shame, I was neither docile, nor programmable and at least a little too bright.  With me, Brown failed in its mission.

14 December 2014

The Evidence Settled State of the "Settled" Science of Catastrophic Man-Made Global Warming

In many posts on this blog, I have torn apart the supposed physics of climate that supposedly backs the catastrophic man-made global warming hypothesis.  The alarmists backing that hypothesis say it is settled science and those of us who do not agree are both unknowing and dangerous to mankind's very survival.  Since my arguments against their physical explanations require the reader to know a significant measure of physics, the alarmists hope to win the hearts of most of the people with the stridency and supposed authority of their claims.

Fortunately, one does not actually have to understand much physics to see that the alarmist claim that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere is causing a warming similar to that which their complex models are predicting is clearly and obviously wrong.  John Christy, in support of the state of Alabama's appeal to the Obama and rabid environmentalist-dominated EPA to prevent the closing of coal-fired power plants in that state, provided this plot:

Now anyone can see that the actual temperature data measured by satellite and that measured by balloons at the middle altitudes of the troposphere, our lower atmosphere, are in pretty close agreement.  The actual temperature increase according to these measurements since 1980 is much lower than that predicted by any of the computer model results based on the alarmist view of the physics of the atmosphere and the climate.  This is definitive proof that the alarmists do not know what they are doing.  They clearly do not understand the physics.

In fact, these scientists clearly do not even agree on the "settled" science very well themselves, given the great divergence in their own predictions.  Their models predict a rate of increase that varies from twice that observed to about 8 times that observed.  By any measure of reason, this is indication that even the alarmist community cannot claim the science is agreed upon among themselves.  They are highly biased toward exaggerated warming predictions, but each model has its own individual misconception of the actual physics of the climate.

Such a failed prediction history should cause any rational person to reject the claims of the catastrophic man-made global warming alarmists.  In fact, anyone rational would find their continued persistence in advancing this hypothesis to be hilarious.  That is, were it not for the US government spending $20 billion a year in support of this and the EPA shutting down coal-fired power plants and denying construction of pipelines on the basis of this nonsense.

In order to perpetuate this massive fraud on the American People and indeed upon people worldwide, our government is also massively fabricating the temperature record at the weather stations it operates.  Tony Heller at Real Science has shown that these surface temperature measurements show no temperature increase since 1990 if only the actually measured data is examined.  A massive 7.3 F/century temperature increase is provided in the fabricated data, however.  All of the claimed increase in temperatures in the US since 1990 is faked.

When you get the physics wrong and yet you insist on continuing to promote a political agenda to strangle economies, to rob the private sector of its wealth and productivity, and to destroy businesses and whole industries, you just have to tell some really big and strident lies.  As I have pointed out innumerable times on many, many issues, socialists and Progressive Elitists are very willing to lie.  Nay, they are compelled to lie.  The Big Lie is all they have.  They never allow reality to get in the way of a "good" lie.

Obama's Wealth Redistribution Takes It From Blacks and Hispanics

Never, ever assume that the proclaimed purpose of a Progressive Elitist is what he says it is.  Progressive elitists are thorough-going unprincipled pragmatists and they do whatever leads them to their desired results.  If it takes a lie to defraud others into giving them the power they want, they will not hesitate to lie.  A now classic example is the set of massive lies used to enact ObamaCare:
  • If you like your health insurance plan you can keep it.
  • If you like your doctor you can keep him.
  • The cost of health insurance premiums for the average family will be reduced by $2500 a year.
  • Most of the 47 million Americans said not to have health insurance will get it under ObamaCare.
  • ObamaCare is not a tax.
  • ObamaCare will cause few Americans to lose their jobs.
So, why would anyone believe that when Obama said his purpose was to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, that would be the result of his policies?  Well, some people are just that naive and that blind to the evidence of history.  Let us examine the evidence of the recent past.

Every three years the Federal Reserve publishes the Survey of Consumer Finances.  The Pew Research Center has produced a very useful summary of the results addressing the differences in household net worth for non-Hispanic blacks, Hispanics, and non-Hispanic white Americans.  Despite years of claims of "economic recovery" under Obama, the median net worth of all households was lower in 2013 than in 2010 and much lower than in 2007.  The median household wealth of 2007 was $135,700 in 2013 dollars.  In 2010, it had fallen to a mere $82,300, before falling further in 2013 to $81,400.  Median household wealth in the USA in 2013 had "recovered" to 60.0% of the median wealth of 2007!

But from 2010 to 2013, non-Hispanic white household income improved a minuscule 2.4%.  This is essentially stagnation in terms of normal wealth growth, let alone the growth characteristic of most economic recoveries.  This is a horror story by itself.

The worst horror story is that of American non-Hispanic blacks.  In 2010, black median household wealth was only 86.5% of what it had been in 2007.  So in 2010, blacks had lost 13.5% of their median household wealth compared to the 28.0% lost by whites.  But then instead of stagnation from 2010 to 2013, black median household wealth dropped precipitously to 57.3% of their 2007 wealth!  So under those much bally-hoed years of the Obama "recovery", non-Hispanic black median household wealth fell a further 33.7%, after the earlier three-year fall of 13.5%.  Black Americans lost more under Obama's "recovery" than they did in the early stages of the Great Socialist Recession!

By 2010, Hispanic American median household wealth fell to 67.8% of their 2007 wealth in 2013 dollars.  This loss of 32.2% was even worse than the 28.0% loss of non-Hispanic white households.  Once again, Hispanic Americans had further losses of household wealth during the Obama "recovery".  In 2013, median Hispanic household wealth was 58.1% of that of 2007 for a total loss of 41.9%, and an additional loss between 2010 and 2013 of 14.4%.

The period of time from 2007 to 2013 was a disaster for most American households.  White median household wealth fell from $192,500 to $141,900.  Hispanic wealth fell from $23,600 to $13,700, making their reserves razor thin.  Black household wealth fell from a median of $19,200 to $11,000.  Both the median black and Hispanic households now have almost negligible wealth. This means they have almost no protection against further economic shocks and almost no reserves for retirement.  Even before the Great Socialist Recession they were ill-prepared for either.

Obama's anti-business and anti-growth policies of higher business taxes, much increased and expensive regulations, ObamaCare, and an alarmist carbon-based fuel vendetta, have hurt the black and Hispanic Americans the most.  Their households were the least well-provisioned to survive these economic shocks to the private sector that madman Obama so much relishes delivering.  When Big Government takes resources away from the private sector where they are put to productive use and redistributes them to political uses, it is the poor and the least skilled and educated who are hurt the most.  Those who benefit are the politically connected and the poor are not usually well-connected.  They do not have the money to entice politicians and they are the least likely to devote the time or even to have the time for the study of the Byzantine workings of Big Government.

The miracle of wealth generation is well-known.  It is Capitalism with its emphasis on mutual cooperation and competition in the private sector that generates wealth.  Big Government is a very efficient consumer of wealth.  It takes wealth by force and destroys it in huge gulps.  Obama has proven that he is a particularly Big, Greedy Gulper of Wealth.  Where does that wealth come from?  It comes from American households.  The more government uses for political purposes, the less wealth American households have to pursue their own dreams and happiness.

Such are the consequences of allowing a Great Socialist Leader the power to redistribute wealth.  The story is always the same.  The socialist redistribution of wealth always reduces the total wealth of the society and it reduces that of most of the people of such a society.  A few politically well-connected people prosper, as we have seen with Obama's crony mercantilist friends.

Curious it is that mercantilism is usually described as the nature of the politically connected economies under monarchies and the accumulation of aristocrats hundreds of years ago.  It was the economic system before Capitalism.  It was the economic system of Medieval times.  Mercantilism, with its effective aristocracy of the politically well-connected is the economic system that Obama and the Progressive Elitists have turned America toward in their Transformation of America.  Theirs is a profoundly retrograde viewpoint that takes us back to the Divine Right of Kings, now the Divine Right of the Politically-Connected Progressive Elitist Aristocracy.  As in the feudal system, most of the people are not politically-connected.  Most of the people are made poorer and dependent on those who are politically connected.  Most of the people know almost nothing about what is going on in the government and have no effective control over its actions.

A vigorous and little-controlled private sector creates great wealth.  It may not produce it equally for everyone, but it does produce wealth for almost everyone.  Feudalism in its socialist or Progressive garb, destroys wealth for almost everyone.  When only partially implemented, it may only reduce the rate at which the people can acquire wealth.  When implemented as far as Obama and his Progressive Elitist allies have implemented it, it actually destroys wealth.  We see that in the reduced median household wealth figures above.

Yet, only a fraction of the implementation of wealth redistribution and socialist policies of the Progressive Elitists has been put in place.  There is much, much more wealth destruction that their policies are capable of doing.  Those who understand this should understand that a principled reduction of government powers and their scope of implementation is necessary.  We ought to return government to its legitimate purpose of protecting the equal, sovereign rights of the individual to life, liberty, property, the ownership of their own minds, bodies, and labor, and to the pursuit of their own happiness.

05 December 2014

The Cash for Clunker Politicians Program

John Sarbanes, Democrat Representative in the House of the incredibly gerrymandered 3rd Congressional District of Maryland, is sponsoring a new bill to provide oodles of cash for politicians.  The idea is to pose this as a way to give small campaign donors more say-so in Washington.  Small campaign donations would become tax-deductions and would be matched by money taken from the general taxpayer.  That some taxpayers will not want to fund a given politician is to be ignored and removed from his control.  The proposed Democrat plan is a Cash for Clunkers program for politicians.  We should call it Cash for Clunker Politicians.

This ignores the real problem that a too big and too powerful government takes too many actions few voters have the time to study.  They cannot figure out the consequences of the myriad effects on the People.  The People know government is too big and is often harmful, but they do not know what to do about it.  Indeed, they are very susceptible to being deceived and misdirected by politicians who regard it as their full-time occupation to become Master Manipulators of the disdained People.  The recent history of the Obama Administration and the Democrat Progressive Elitist members of Congress has made this picture of politicians especially clear.  As they proclaimed a new era of transparency, public documents have become massively less available to the public and insanely subject to being "lost."  It has become ever more obvious that the leadership of the Democratic Party has little but contempt for the People and is completely enamored with the Big Lie concept.

The People, being highly befuddled by massive government and the many highly deceptive politicians, tend not to vote because the responsibility has become too much of a time burden, too much of an intellectual effort, and too odious emotionally for them.  Since most citizens do not vote consequently and most of those who do vote do not understand what the government is doing, a huge power vacuum results.  Politicians such as Obama, Reid, Pelosi, Cardin, and Sarbanes take full advantage of this to institute new laws designed to pay off special interests and to provide them with a very lucrative job as power brokers.  They use that power to extort money from legitimate businesses which are the generators of wealth.  In turn, business money and the money of the many special interests who are not businesses, has to be distributed to politicians to either keep them from doing harm to those businesses and other special interests or to curry their powerful favor.  That this is the necessary result should be obvious to anyone, but apparently is not.

Sarbanes, son of Senator Sarbanes who saddled the People with the very deleterious Sarbanes-Oxley Law that has greatly reduced business productivity, is a sponsor of H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act.  This proposed law is just to create still another pot of money for politicians to use to increase their power and to fertilize the growth of still Bigger Government.  But note the as-usual deceptive title of the bill.

The only way to solve the problem of special interest control of government is to drastically reduce the power and scope of government so that it can be better understood by the People and so it will have much less potential to harm or favor special interests.  Any other solution is nothing but a deception.  Note also that the matching of deductible campaign contributions out of paid taxes is a violation of the freedom of conscience and freedom of speech of individual taxpayers.  A taxpayer should not have to fund the election campaigns of politicians he opposes.

It is informative to understand how Rep. John Sarbanes sets up this deception.  Here is his letter so you can read it yourself:

Dear Friend,

In today's political environment – where wealthy and well-connected special interests spend billions of dollars on elections and wield considerable influence in Washington – it's no wonder why Marylanders and others across the nation are fed up with government and turning away from the polls.

And who can blame folks for their cynicism? It's a perfectly rational reaction to the influence of big money on elections and on the governing machinery in Washington.

As you may know, the 2014 election set two disturbing records: more than $4 billion spent and the lowest turnout since the midterm elections of 1942. While there's no definitive proof of a causal relationship between these two trends, it's worth exploring.

For the average citizen, the most important motivation for casting a vote is the belief that, when your candidate arrives in Washington, he or she will govern in a way that represents your interest.

Unfortunately, Big Money is making a mockery of that motivation. Because deep-pocketed special interests are funding these campaigns, they are the ones calling the shots in Washington, and your interest – the public interest – gets left behind.

Still, there is reason for hope.

Most people who run for public office do so out of a sincere desire to help others and to make a difference in their community. Many are deeply frustrated by the outsized role of money in politics and long to restore Congress' credibility with the public. It's time for lawmakers to consider reforms that address the influence of big money and give everyday citizens a real voice in their government.

One path – putting limits on campaign expenditures – has been effectively blocked by the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United and the difficult challenge of passing a constitutional amendment to repeal that decision. But there is another way to address big money's influence: set up a competing small-donor system focused on everyday citizens.

For example, a tax credit for small-donor political contributions would give more Americans the means to participate in the funding of campaigns. Boost those donations with matching funds, and candidates will begin to search out small donors instead of going to the PACs and the big-money crowd.

Imagine a Member of Congress standing in your living room listening to your voice because you have the power to fund his or her campaign. That's the promise of a small-donor matching system. And that's also why I've introduced H.R. 20, the Government By the People Act – to empower everyday citizens and to amplify their voices in Congress.

Big money might have won this election, but there's still hope that we can take back our democracy. It won't be without a fight.

To learn more about what you can do to fight big money in politics, visit:


John P. Sarbanes

As I hope you can see, he does acknowledge aspects of the problem, but then proposes a solution that is no solution and will only make matters worse.  But all the while he poses as your friend.  He is anything but that.  He is a typical power-hungry Progressive Elitist who believes you are too stupid to choose your own values and manage your own life in a vibrant private sector.  No, you should be made dependent upon Big Government so it can protect you from Special Interests in his deceptive viewpoint.  What he neglects to say is that it is Big Government that is the machine that Special Interests use to control the People to their advantage and to do great harm to the People.  The idea that simply choosing better politicians and better managers for the Big Government will make the subsequent Big Government the friend of the People is simply insane.  It is a doomed attempt to reverse Cause and Effect.

The Framers of the Constitution understood the problem of Big Government and Special Interests and attempted to set up a mandate for a highly limited government of few enumerated powers so such problems would be minimized.  Because we have allowed the size and scope of government to exceed these limits at the national level and corresponding limits in most local governments, we have rule by massive and Special Interest-controlled governments.  We should always be wary of the fact that one of those Special Interests is politicians.  Our huge governments are not Government by the People anymore, but Government by the Politicians.  This Sarbanes Cash for Clunker Politicians bill is another slush fund for those Politicians.