“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom”

November 15, 2016

Still holds true after 85 years:

Adrian Rogers redistribution

Source: Someone on Twitter or Facebook, can’t recall whom.

But it’s the thought that counts.


Italy’s Fiscal and Demographic Death Spiral

July 5, 2016

An overly generous welfare state combined with demographic decline. There’s a recipe for national collapse.

International Liberty

European economic analysts are paying too much attention to the United Kingdom and too little attention to Italy.

Yes, the Brexit decision is important, and the United Kingdom is the world’s 5th-largest economy so it merits attention to see if there are any speed bumps as it escapes from the slowly sinking ship otherwise known as the European Union.

But one of the other passengers on that doomed ship is Italy, the world’s 8th-largest economy. And if the UK merits attention because of uncertainty on its way to a brighter future, then Italy should be getting five-alarm focus for its festering economic crisis as it descends into chaos.

Part of that crisis is quasi-permanent stagnation, as illustrated by this map showing changes in per-capita economic output since 1995.

To state that Italy is the slow student in the class is an understatement. There’s been a two-decade period with…

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French President Approaches Cliff, Steps on Accelerator

January 19, 2016

France has been dirigiste since Louis XIV centralized all power under him, and the French leadership has been trapped in that intellectual straitjacket ever since. The idea of lowering the burden of government and letting market forces work is probably inconceivable to President Hollande — and most of his people.

International Liberty

When I wrote back in 2012 that France was committing fiscal suicide, I should have guessed that President Hollande would get impatient and push for even more statism.

Sure enough, the BBC reports that France’s President has a new plan. The ostensible goal is to reduce unemployment, but the practical effect is to expand the size and scope of government.

President Francois Hollande has set out a €2bn (£1.5bn) job creation plan in an attempt to lift France out of what he called a state of “economic emergency”. Under a two-year scheme, firms with fewer than 250 staff will get subsidies if they take on a young or unemployed person for six months or more. In addition, about 500,000 vocational training schemes will be created.

Needless to say, if subsidies and handouts were the key to job creation, France already would have full employment.

In reality, real jobs are created

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C.S. Lewis understood the Left very well, indeed

January 3, 2016

It’s hard to find a better description of  one of the key characteristics of the Left –from mild progressive to hard-core communist– than this:

Lewis on the Left

In other words, the Left believes it has figured out History, is certain that it flows in just one direction and where it ends, and that they themselves are the ones best able to facilitate this. Whether you want it or not.

Or, as I like to say, “God save me from those who want to save me.”

Via someone on Twitter, can’t recall who. smiley I dont know


Scholarly Evidence against the Welfare State

September 28, 2015

One of these days, we’re going to come to our economic senses. Soon, I hope.

International Liberty

I repeatedly try to convince people that the welfare state is bad for both taxpayers and poor people.

Sometimes I’ll add some more detailed economic analysis and explain that redistribution programs undermine growth by reducing labor supply (with Obamacare being the latest example).

And I’ve even explained that the welfare state has a negative impact on savings and wealth accumulation (these dramatic charts show Social Security debt in America compared to ever-growing nest eggs in Australia’s private pension system).

But if new research from the European Central Bank (ECB) is any indication, I should be giving more emphasis to this final point.

Culling from the abstract, here’s the key finding from the working paper by Pirmin Fessler and Martin Schürz.

…multilevel cross-country regressions show that the degree of welfare state spending across countries is negatively correlated with household net wealth. These findings suggest that social services provided by…

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Back to Square One: Unlawful Collusion with Green Pressure Groups Should Doom U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation

July 30, 2015

Oh, really? Why, oh why am I not shocked to find collusion between Green statists in the government and climate alarmist groups?

Watts Up With That?

EPA_collusion
Washington, D.C. — Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), a 501 (c) (3) watchdog group, released an investigatory report, Back to Square One: Unlawful Collusion with Green Pressure Groups Should Doom U.S. EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Regulation  and an appendix of source documents.  The report, which is based on e-mails and other documents obtained under numerous Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests and litigation, details illegal activities by EPA staff, colluding with certain environmental lobbyists to draft EPA’s greenhouse gas (GHG) rules behind the scenes, outside of public view, and to the exclusion of other parties.  More importantly, it clearly shows that EPA must start anew if it wishes to regulate GHGs. (A two-minute companion video is available for use.)
With EPA’s GHG rules going final any day, it is critical to inform the public of the emails detailed in this report for what they show about how…

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(Video) Nazism and Communism, brothers on the Left

June 7, 2015

One of the great intellectual errors I’ve had to clear myself of in recent years was the belief that Nazism and Communism, Fascism and Bolshevism, were opposites. I’d been taught that the former was the extreme Right, while the latter was the extreme Left.

This is wrong. Both are creations of the Left, ideologies that place the State above the individual and loath free-market capitalism. Jonah Goldberg does a wonderful job explaining that in his Liberal Fascism. But, if you haven’t time to read that (1), this video from Conservative MEP Dan Hannan gives a good quick summary of why, for all their differences, at their core Nazism and Communism were very much alike.

Footnote:
(1) Do yourself a favor and make the time. This book is worth it.


Instead of Ending Poverty, Big Government Subsidizes Dependency

May 20, 2015

I wish more people would see this: while begun with the best of intentions, the welfare state only traps people in poverty, providing an anchor that weighs against bettering their own lot.

International Liberty

President Obama recently took part in a poverty panel at Georgetown University. By D.C. standards, it was ideologically balanced since there were three statists against one conservative (I’ve dealt with that kind of “balance” when dealing with the media, as you can see here and here).

You won’t be surprised to learn that the President basically regurgitated the standard inside-the-beltway argument that caring for the poor means you have to support bigger government and more redistribution.

Many observers were unimpressed. Here’s some of what Bill McGurn wrote for the Wall Street Journal.

The unifying progressive contention here is the assertion that America isn’t “investing” enough in the poor—by which is meant the government isn’t spending enough. …President Obama…went on to declare it will be next to impossible to find “common ground” on poverty until his critics accept his spending argument.

I think this argument is nonsense. We’re spending record…

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#RaiseTheWage – Seattle pizzeria to close thanks to economic ignorance

April 29, 2015
"But at least we won the election! Obama!!"

“But at least they raised the wage!!”

To paraphrase Mark 8:36, “For what good does it do a city to raise the wages of it workers, yet forfeit the jobs?” In Seattle, San Francisco’s northern soul-mate, they may well be asking that very question:

It may be one of the first casualties of Seattle’s new minimum wage law. The owner of Z Pizza says she’s being forced to close her doors, because she can’t afford the higher labor costs.

Devin Jeran was happy to get a raise, when Seattle’s minimum wage went up to $11 an hour at the beginning of the month.

“I definitely recognize that having more money is important,” he says, “especially in a city as expensive as this one.”

Unfortunately, he’ll only enjoy that bigger paycheck for a few more months. In August, his boss is shutting down Z Pizza and putting him and his 11 co-workers out of work.

“Fortunately she keeps us in the loop, she didn’t just tell us last minute.”

Ritu Shah Burnham doesn’t want to go out of business, but says she can’t afford the city’s mandated wage hikes.

“I’ve let one person go since April 1, I’ve cut hours since April 1, I’ve taken them myself because I don’t pay myself,” she says. “I’ve also raised my prices a little bit, there’s no other way to do it.”

Like I’ve said many times before: the laws of economics cannot be repealed by legislative fiat. Raise the cost of labor, and businesses will be faced with a choice from among four options — pass the costs on to the consumer; reduce labor costs by cutting hours or whole jobs; eat the costs and accept lower profits; or cease doing business in that jurisdiction, either by moving or closing shop. Ritu Shah Burnham may have loved her business, or she may have hated it. But, regardless, she’s come to the conclusion it isn’t worth staying in business in Seattle. She isn’t the first, and other small businesses in other progressive cities have made the same choice.

And their workers have wound up looking for work.

What’s especially galling about this, aside from the hubris of thinking one can bend economic laws to one’s will, like a financial Lysenko, is that the progressive, social justice warrior-pols passing these laws don’t have to live with the immediate consequences: it’s not their profits that get hurt, not their business that becomes unsustainable, not their job that’s lost. They’re not the kid looking for his or her first job, only to learn the employer has cut back on hiring because he can’t afford as many employees as he used to. But these politicians do it while appealing to the god “Fairness,” assuming that it will all work out in the end with a wave of the hand, or that it will be the next guy’s problem. Whatever. They still get to hug themselves for being such wonderful people.

Their self-righteous arrogance is astounding and infuriating. It’s genuinely harming people


In the Left’s Orwellian World, Taxpayers Who Get to Keep their Income Are Getting “Handouts”

April 19, 2015

The difference between a conservative and a progressive: the conservative believes the money you earn is yours, and the government should take only the minimum it needs to perform necessary tasks. The progressive believes the money is yours, but government knows best how it should be used and how much you really need.

International Liberty

I’ve sometimes asserted, only half-jokingly, that statists believe all of our income belongs to the government and that we should be grateful if we’re allowed to keep any slice of what we earn.

This is, at least in part, the mentality behind the “tax expenditure” concept, which creates a false equivalence between spending programs and provisions of the tax code that allow people to keep greater amounts of their own income.

Here’s how I characterized this moral blindness when criticizing a Washington Post columnist back in 2013.

Hiatt presumably thinks that the government’s decision not to impose double taxation is somehow akin to a giveaway. But that only makes sense if you assume that government has a preemptive claim to all private income. …Hiatt wants us the think that there’s no moral, ethical, or economic difference between giving person A $5,000 of other people’s money and person B being…

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Tales of the Nanny State: taxing your dessert, timing your TV watching

February 20, 2015
I said, no fun allowed!

I said, no fun allowed!

Because what Americans are yearning for right now is even more government intrusion into their daily lives:

The federal committee responsible for nutrition guidelines is calling for the adoption of “plant-based” diets, taxes on dessert, trained obesity “interventionists” at worksites, and electronic monitoring of how long Americans sit in front of the television.

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) released its far-reaching 571-page report of recommendations to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Thursday, which detailed its plans to “transform the food system.”

The report is open for public comment for 45 days, and will be used as the basis by the government agencies to develop the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The guidelines are used as the basis for government food assistance programs, nutrition education efforts, and for making “decisions about national health objectives.”

DGAC proposed a variety of solutions to address obesity, and its promotion of what it calls the “culture of health.”

“The persistent high levels of overweight and obesity require urgent population- and individual-level strategies across multiple settings, including health care, communities, schools, worksites, and families,” they said.

And if that isn’t enough, DGAC wants to monitor your TV watching — for your own good, of course:

The amount of sedentary time Americans spend in front of computers and TV sets is also a concern to the federal panel.

They recommended “coaching or counseling sessions,” “peer-based social support,” and “electronic tracking and monitoring of the use of screen-based technologies” as a way to limit screen time.

The screen-time recommendations came from The Community Guide, a group affiliated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which reviewed studies that used an “electronic monitoring device to limit screen time” of teenagers.

Progressive America — where TV watches you!

Really, if these bureaucratic scolds wanted to annoy people so much they would elect even more small-government conservatives who would then take a meat ax to the bureaucracy, they couldn’t find a better way to go about it. “Sin taxes” are already so popular with the public.

I encourage them to press on.


Should Government Regulators Make the Internet More Like the Post Office or DMV?

February 15, 2015

I’ll take Option C, “neither.”

International Liberty

The Internet has made all of our lives better, in part because there’s been an accidental policy of benign neglect from Washington.

But that’s about to change.

Even though our economy already is burdened by record amounts of regulation and red tape, the FCC is pushing forward with a plan to turn the Internet into a moss-covered public utility.

This almost leaves me at a loss for words. It’s truly remarkable – in a bad way – that the bureaucrats at the Federal Communications Commission think that the Internet can be improved by a big dose of 1930s-era regulation and control.

My Cato colleague, Jim Harper, summarized the issue last month.

Do you want your Internet service provider to operate like the water company or the electric company?… the FCC has sought for years now to regulate broadband Internet service providers…like it used to regulate AT&T, with government…

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Good Lord, the government really is planning to ban donut sprinkles!

December 30, 2014
Enemy of the State

Enemy of the State

I thought a friend was joking when he said the government was “going after” sprinkles, but then I saw an item in  this morning’s bulletin from the California Political Review that lead me to Warner Todd Huston’s post at Publius Forum, which in turn lead me to this jaw-dropper from Mike Flynn at Breitbart from before Christmas:

Early next year, the FDA is expected to finalize a new regulation intended to eradicate even trace amounts of partially hydrogenated oils, known as trans fats, from our diets.

Although the amount of trans fats Americans consume has declined significantly in recent years, the FDA’s quest to completely eliminate a particular type of trans fat threatens to eliminate the noble “sprinkle,” used to decorate holiday treats and donuts. Even a small amount of joy is suspect in the FDA’s brave, new, food-monitored world.

In recent years, research has determined that consuming large amounts of trans fats is harmful to the heart. Trans fats have been in the American diet since the 1950s, but recent awareness of its health risks have pushed food companies and restaurants to minimize its use. Today, Americans consume just 1.3 grams of trans fats a day, around 0.6% of total caloric intake. No research has shown this level of consumption to pose any risk.

Flynn goes on to point out the irony in the situation: the very organization that now pushes for a total trans-fat ban, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), in the 1980s and 1990s was urging restaurants and food manufacturers to switch to trans-fats, because they were “healthier.” Oops.

And now we’re supposed to trust them and the FDA on this.

The argument over trans-fats aside, this is another example of the eternal desire of the Nanny State to regulate and control everything in our lives — for our own good, of course. You’re not capable of making your own decisions over your own affairs –what foods to eat, what kind of lighting to use, &c.– so boards of experts, that progressive ideal, have to make them for you.

There’s another imperative behind this and other examples of nanny-statism: the built-in, always-on need of all regulatory agencies to ensure there is a reason for their continued existence and for increasing their budgets. No problem is ever truly solved; there is always some new rule to issue, some standard to tighten, even if there is no real problem that needs fixing. But the regulators need their enemy: To admit they’ve accomplished their goals would mean they don’t need more money, maybe not as many staff. It might even leave them vulnerable to the unthinkable: budget cuts or —gasp!— elimination.

And, of course, there wouldn’t be new jobs for crusading nanny-staters fresh out of graduate school.

Enjoy your sprinkled donuts while you can, before Nanny takes them away.

RELATED: Nanny-statism is a feature of the Administrative State, which gives bureaucratic agencies the power to write rules that have the force of law without democratic accountability. A recent book by Philip Hamburger argues that such powers are not only unconstitutional, they are extra-constitutional, not being recognized by our foundational documents at all. Bureaucratic nonsense like the above, such as banning traditional cookies, makes me sympathetic to the idea.

 

 


The Final Nail in the Keynesian Coffin?

December 22, 2014

One can only hope. Although, to be fair, Keynes himself would probably criticize the way his acolytes apply his theories.

International Liberty

I wrote earlier this year about the “perplexing durability” of Keynesian economics. And I didn’t mince words.

Keynesian economics is a failure. It didn’t work for Hoover and Roosevelt in the 1930s. It didn’t work for Japan in the 1990s. And it didn’t work for Bush or Obama in recent years. No matter where’s it’s been tried, it’s been a flop. So why, whenever there’s a downturn, do politicians resuscitate the idea that bigger government will “stimulate” the economy?

And I specifically challenged Keynesians in 2013 to explain why automatic budget cuts were supposedly a bad idea given that the American economy expanded when the burden of government spending shrank during the Reagan and Clinton years.

I also issued that same challenge one day earlier, asking Keynesians to justify their opposition to sequestration given that Canada’s economy prospered in the 1990s…

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Andrew Klavan on the Left’s war against liberty

December 1, 2014
The  will to power

The will to power

Writing at PJMedia, Andrew Klavan considers the Left’s desperation to use race as political tool –pushing narratives that turn out not to be true; then making up racialist fables that don’t need facts, they’re just true, you racist; and, when those fail, causing problems to prove there is a problem that needs their cure–  and wonders why they do this. What purpose does it serve?

Not one to leave us hanging, Andrew also gives us the answer: the quest for power.

The trouble that besets us is not white against black, and it’s not black against white either. It’s the left against liberty.

Leftism — by which I mean the end of liberty through forced “equality” — by which I mean the absolute power of a ruling class over the unwashed many — by which I mean tyranny — by which I mean leftism — uses race as a ploy, uses the poor as pawns, uses violence as a means, but has only one purpose: power; the power of the elite few. As valid excuses to exercise that power (slavery and segregation) fall away, it creates false excuses (Duke, Trayvon, Ferguson). When the false excuses are exposed, it creates make-believe injustices (white privilege, micro-aggression). When the make-believe is laughed off, it seizes the next moment of high tension to spew lies, gin up emotion, and engineer violence. Then, in the aftermath of the wholly unnecessary turmoil, rage and destruction, we’re all supposed to wearily agree: ”Something must be done.”

The only thing that needs to be done is to boot the leftists out of power and off TV.

I’m down with that.

Whether it’s progressivism, with its rule by technocrats and boards of experts, or out and out Alinskyism, which deliberately sets one group against another (“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”), or bare-naked Bolshevism, the Left beyond a mild social liberalism is all about the taking and holding of power. Conservatives and libertarians want government to perform a few tasks, the kind of jobs it’s best suited to (make war, attend to infrastructure, run the courts, &c) and otherwise leave people to look after their own affairs. Government power should be dispersed and as local as practical. The Left, on the the other hand, wants government to do everything and for themselves to be in charge so they can run everyone else’s affairs for them. And the more centralized the authority, the better.

The Right wants to empower people. The Left wants to empower itself, in the name of The People.

PS: I realize Lefties of good faith might well object to this, being motivated by a genuine, albeit misguided, desire to build a better world. Take it from me: Your “leaders” are using you.

RELATED: An essay from Roger L. Simon you should read. Here’s an excerpt:

The Democrats have been reduced to the party of the rich elite (George Soros, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood, Jonathan Gruber-types, edit al.) and the party of the poor exploited by those elites — a lethal combination that takes society exactly nowhere. In essence, they are the party of racism and sexism — that’s about it. Oh, and climate change. There’s a winner for you.

Yep.


Brit Hume reduces progressivism to its essence in 30 seconds

November 16, 2014

Hume here is talking about Obamacare and the admissions by Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber that deception played a key role in its passage — indeed, that deception was essential. But it isn’t just Obamacare; this attitude of patronizing condescension and even contempt (1) for the average American underlies all progressivism, and thus the governing assumptions of the Democratic Party.

Here’s Brit:

via The Right Scoop

Footnote:
(1) They’ll deny it hotly, of course, but that’s because the truth hurts.


Government Screws Up Everything: The Internet Version

November 14, 2014

A very good video on why we should not let the government regulate the Internet.

International Liberty

When I read that the Obama Administration wants to regulate the Internet by having the Federal Communications Commission impose “net neutrality” rules, my immediate response is to be opposed.

Does my opposition to more regulation and red tape make me a knee-jerk ideologue?

I suppose so, though I think it’s simply a common-sense instinct.

After all, it’s very difficult to come up with a list of successful interventions by government. So I think my automatic aversion to regulation is akin to my automatic aversion to touching a hot stove. Simply stated, I can’t imagine a positive outcome.

But let’s be “open minded” and consider whether there’s some compelling reason to give politicians and bureaucrats power over the Internet.

This video from Reason TV is a very good introduction to the issue.

And since we’re citing Reason, here’s some of what Nick Gillespie wrote on the issue of so-called net neutrality.

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Greens sneering at Democracy again in wake of Obama climate deal

November 13, 2014

That darned democracy keeps getting in the way of our Intellectual Betters (all bow) by giving the plebes a voice. As the article reminds us, Progressives, such as the NYT’s Tom Friedman, often wish we were more like China. Thank Heaven we’re not.

Watts Up With That?

If only we were more like China…

Eric Worrall writes:

The Guardian, a green British newspaper, has published yet another green sneer at democracy, with reference to the recent climate agreement between China and America, contrasting the efficient obedience of the Chinese government, with the “difficulties” Obama will encounter, when he faces the democratically elected representatives of the American people.
According to the Guardian,

“While Chinese apparatchiks will, presumably unquestioningly, jump to realize President Xi Jinping’s order to reduce carbon emissions in an ambitious deal with the United States, Barack Obama will come home to a newly elected Congress that will probably tell him to neuter his climate change agenda or be prepared for the kind of knock-down, drag-out fight that could potentially end with a government shutdown.”

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2014/nov/12/how-republican-led-congress-could-kill-climate-change-deal
This is not the first time greens have expressed open contempt for democracy. Who can forget former NASA GISS chairman James…

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In the 50-Year War on Poverty, Bureaucrats Have Won while Both Taxpayers and Poor People Have Lost

September 21, 2014

We fought the War on Poverty, and poverty and its allies in the bureaucracy won.

International Liberty

We know the welfare state is good news for people inside government. Lots of bureaucrats are required, after all, to oversee a plethora of redistribution programs.

Walter Williams refers to these paper pushers as poverty pimps, and there’s even a ranking showing which states have the greatest number of these folks who profit by creating dependency.

But does anybody else benefit from welfare programs?

Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation explains in the Washington Times that the War on Poverty certainly hasn’t been a success for taxpayers or poor people. Instead, it’s created a costly web of dependency.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s launch of the War on Poverty. …Since then, the taxpayers have spent $22 trillion on Johnson’s war. Adjusted for inflation, that’s three times the cost of all military wars since the American Revolution. Last year, government spent $943…

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Statist Policy and the Great Depression

September 18, 2014

A useful corrective to the liberal myth-making that surrounds the Great Depression

International Liberty

It’s difficult to promote good economic policy when some policy makers have a deeply flawed grasp of history.

This is why I’ve tried to educate people, for instance, that government intervention bears the blame for the 2008 financial crisis, not capitalism or deregulation.

Going back in time, I’ve also explained the truth about “sweatshops” and “robber barons.”

But one of the biggest challenges is correcting the mythology that capitalism caused the Great Depression and that government pulled the economy out of its tailspin.

To help correct the record, I’ve shared a superb video from the Center for Freedom and Prosperity that discusses the failed statist policies of both Hoover and Roosevelt.

Now, to augment that analysis, we have a video from Learn Liberty. Narrated by Professor Stephen Davies, it punctures several of the myths about government policy in the 1930s.

Professors Davies is right on the…

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