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“The Inequality Bogeyman”

2 Feb

Thomas Sowell, the well-known black conservative economist at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, had the words below to say about economic inequality.  The full column can be found at http://www.creators.com/opinion/thomas-sowell/the-inequality-bogeyman.html

Excerpt:   [Bracketed material is mine – so is the bolding]

. . . . [D]ifferences in capabilities are inescapable, and they make a big difference in what and how much we can contribute to each other’s economic and other well-being. If we all had the same capabilities and the same limitations, one individual’s limitations would be the same as the limitations of the entire human species.

We are lucky that we are so different, so that the capabilities of many other people can cover our limitations.

One of the problems with so many discussions of income and wealth is that the intelligentsia are so obsessed with the money that people receive that they give little or no attention to what causes money to be paid to them, in the first place.

. . . . From the standpoint of a society as a whole, money is just an artificial device to give us incentives to produce real things — goods and services.

Those goods and services are the real “wealth of nations,” as Adam Smith titled his treatise on economics in the 18th century.

[A few paragraphs follow about John D. Rockefeller, his contributions to U.S. economic growth and his resultant fortune, with shout-out to Edison, the Wright brothers, and Henry Ford.]

Too many discussions of large fortunes attribute them to “greed” — as if wanting a lot of money is enough to cause other people to hand it over to you. It is a childish idea, when you stop and think about it — but who stops and thinks these days?

Edison, Ford, the Wright brothers, and innumerable others also created unprecedented expansions of the lives of ordinary people. The individual fortunes represented a fraction of the wealth created. . . .

Intellectuals’ obsession with income statistics — calling envy “social justice” — ignores vast differences in productivity that are far more fundamental to everyone’s well-being. Killing the goose that lays the golden egg has ruined many economies.

[End of excerpt]

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Simple Prescription for Eliminating “Poverty” in America

2 Feb

Mona Charen, one of my favorite columnists, recently wrote the following paragraphs about the poor and unemployed in a piece that can be found in full at http://www.creators.com/opinion/mona-charen/will-anyone-watch-tonights-speech-why.html

I think this is very well said – enjoy.  [I put “Poverty” in quotes in my title because I have serious concerns about how loosely we define poverty in this country — there are probably a few billion people in this world who would feel as though they were solidly in the middle class if they were as well off as most of the folks we have arbitrarily defined as “living in poverty”.]

Excerpt from Ms. Charen:

Most economists agree that increasing the minimum wage has a tendency to discourage hiring. Second, most people who earn minimum wage are not heads of households. Third, 80 percent are not poor. Fourth, most receive a raise within 12 months. Fifth, the states containing half the population already have minimum wages above the federal level.

What the soft shoe about income inequality and declining upward mobility is meant to disguise is that Obama has presided over an economy that is providing diminishing opportunities for work. People who work full time are almost never poor. The Current Population Survey of the Census Bureau found that among full-time workers, the poverty rate in 2013 was 2.9 percent. Most of those who are poor are not working at all or are working only part time.

Long-term unemployment is demoralizing for the jobless and expensive for taxpayers. Rather than attempt to set wages from Washington, Obama’s entire focus ought to be on removing obstacles to hiring. . . .

Obama will boast that he has a “pen and a phone.” He can use his pen to relax some of the job-depressing regulations his administration has imposed, particularly in the health, financial and energy sectors. He can use his phone to approve the Keystone pipeline. And he could use his influence to extol the essential habits of success, without which more and more Americans will fail to flourish. As the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported years ago, if Americans do three simple things, they will not be poor: 1) graduate from high school , 2) get a job and 3) wait until marriage to have their first child.

[End of excerpt]

Those Terrible, Uncaring Conservatives . . .

7 Jan

David Limbaugh, in his recent column titled “The Left’s Latest Mantra:  Income Inequality”, besides addressing the left’s unjustified claims to the high ground on income inequality, has this to say about the liberal world view in general.  I thought it was well stated.  The whole column can be read at

http://www.creators.com/opinion/david-limbaugh/the-lefts-latest-mantra-income-inequality.html

Excerpt:  [Emphasis is mine]

Whether or not liberals are able to process the reality that their programs have failed, they will not abandon them, because class warfare and government dependency programs are their ticket to power. CNN’s Candy Crowley unwittingly admitted as much when she asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker why any unemployed American or minimum wage worker would become a Republican.

It’s not that conservatives don’t care about the poor. It’s that we do care about the poor — and everyone else. We believe that our free market solutions generate economic growth, stimulate upward mobility and improve the economic lives of far more people, including the poor and middle class, than any other system. History vindicates us.

The left will always win the “look at how much I care about you” contest. But it loses in the “actually caring” department because at some point, people have to be presumed to have intended the damaging results their policies have consistently caused.

[End of excerpt]

Stimulus Fail: How The U.S. Spent Its Way Into Disaster

30 Oct

A good, short, and graphic piece on the negative effect of the stimulus and the potentially positive impact of the Tea Party.

Stimulus Fail: How The U.S. Spent Its Way Into Disaster.

Republicans Overreaching? I’ll Tell You What’s Overreaching!

23 May

The Democrats have taken to using the term “overreaching” to describe the Republicans’ efforts to get to the bottom of the IRS, AP, and Benghazi situations.  What I think is that someone needs to throw the following list loudly and repeatedly into their faces.

To my way of seeing things:

Overreaching is when the IRS, motivated by Administration-driven partisanship and rhetoric, targets conservative groups for “special” attention.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when a public employee (e.g., Ms. Lerner of the IRS) proclaims her complete and utter innocence in the matter of IRS targeting of conservative groups and then arrogantly thumbs her nose at a duly constituted congressional probe and proclaims she will answer no questions, taking the 5th instead.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

On the other hand, overreaching is when congressional committees demand higher ethical behavior (e.g., truth) from witnesses that appear before them than these congressmen demand of themselves.

Overreaching is when a huge health care bill that affects every American is rammed down the throats of Americans, who opposed the bill in majority;  a bill that the congressmen never even got a chance to read and digest  – now seen to cost Americans billions, if not trillions, of dollars, while not even achieving its coverage promises.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration decrees that all birth control (including morning-after pills) must be provided free of charge in all employer insurance plans, thus both formalizing an infringement on freedom of religion and the government’s approval of removal of all constraints on casual sex and personal responsibility.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when there are lies about Benghazi concocted and promulgated for weeks after the terrorist event has occurred, in order to prevent damage to a presidential campaign.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration targets phone records of journalists to serve its own nefarious purposes.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when government starts telling us what size drinks we can buy in the marketplace.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States presumes to tell Americans that the market system is “unfair”, when he has little or no experience in the market system — and the American market system has been the greatest engine of general prosperity ever seen on earth.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States inflicts unnecessary “pain” on Americans in the name of sequestration, when sequestration does not actually reduce spending by the federal government, and can be implemented with little actual “pain” and inconvenience.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government imposes national education standards that actually lower the standards in some states that have implemented their own high standards, and now must reduce those standards to qualify for federal funds.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration decrees that free speech can be limited on college and university campuses, and that lives can be destroyed based upon a simple charge of sexual harassment or misconduct without proof being necessary – the assumption of guilty until proven innocent.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when a gun control bill is slammed together in the aftermath of a tragic shooting event, simply for political show, when the particular bill would have done nothing to prevent this tragedy.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration throws billions of taxpayer dollars at financially and logically unsound “green” energy companies, companies often with strong Obama supporters as investors or board members, only to see that taxpayer money go down the drain in bankruptcies.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government engineers auto manufacturers’ bankruptcies, entering into financial business partnerships at the cost of the taxpayers in order that supportive unions won’t suffer too much, instead of letting the normal bankruptcy-and-re-emergent process take care of the problem.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government makes it more economically advantageous for the unambitious among us to be on the taxpayer dole than to be a part of the work force.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States stays in constant campaign mode for over 5 years (and counting – with associated costs being charged to the taxpayers who are having to tighten their own belts – millions upon millions of dollars.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States makes a college graduation speech in which he re-emphasizes the mindset and continuation of victimhood in the United States.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United States weighs in on white-on-black crime in America (e.g., the Trayvon Martin case), when it is a fact that black-on-black crime is a far, FAR more serious problem than either of the other two combinations.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration’s Justice Department overlooks direct violation of polling place neutrality by failing to seriously investigate those in the New Black Panther Party who adopted on-site intimidation methods.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when a Democrat-controlled Senate fails to obey the law and pass an annual budget – for three years running.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the Administration not only selectively fails to enforce federal immigration laws, but prevents states from then passing and enforcing their own.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the federal government puts together an “immigration reform” bill that is loaded with “overreaching” garbage, for example the fixing of wages of immigrant workers, and special consideration for foreign ski instructors (both of which are found among dozens of other “overreaching” provisions in the new immigration reform bill.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when politicians blame any specific administration, party, or market segment for The Great Recession when they know that it was loose government policies and failure to execute to existing regulations that caused the major problems.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the government tries to cover up its own contributions to The Great Recession by blaming market forces and piling on new [mostly unneeded] regulations for business, thus significantly slowing down the economic recovery.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

Overreaching is when the President of the United Sates repeatedly lies to the American public about the intentions and beliefs of his political opponents.  Democrats, Republicans, and Independents should ALL be outraged at this.

You can feel free to suggest your own examples of overreaching.  But in my opinion, these are the overreaches, NOT a committee’s attempts to investigate them.  Where there is true innocence, there is truly nothing to fear.

Housing Subsidies – Yet Another Government Boondoggle

13 Jan

John Stossel recently wrote an essay on the perverse effects of housing subsidies that is well worth reading, but also infuriating.  Titled “A Man’s Home Is His Subsidy”, I have reprinted the first several paragraphs below.  The full essay can be found at

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/political_commentary/commentary_by_john_stossel/a_man_s_home_is_his_subsidy

Excerpt:  [Bolding is mine]

The Obama administration now proposes to spend millions more on handouts, despite ample evidence of their perverse effects.

Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, says, “The single most important thing HUD does is provide rental assistance to America’s most vulnerable families — and the Obama administration is proposing bold steps to meet their needs.” They always propose “bold steps.”

In this case, HUD wants to spend millions more to renew Section 8 housing vouchers that help poor people pay rent.

The Section 8 program ballooned during the ’90s to “solve” a previous government failure: crime-ridden public housing. Rent vouchers allow the feds to disperse tenants from failed projects into private residencies. There, poor people would learn good habits from middle-class people.

It was a reasonable idea. But, as always, there were unintended consequences.

“On paper, Section 8 seems like it should be successful,” says Donald Gobin, a Section 8 landlord in New Hampshire. “But unless tenants have some unusual fire in their belly, the program hinders upward mobility.”

Gobin complains that his tenants are allowed to use Section 8 subsidies for an unlimited amount of time. There is no work requirement. Recipients can become comfortably dependent on government assistance.

In Gobin’s over 30 years of renting to Section 8 tenants, he has seen only one break free of the program. Most recipients stay on Section 8 their entire lives. They use it as a permanent crutch.

Government’s rules kill the incentive to succeed.

Section 8 handouts are meant to be generous enough that tenants may afford a home defined by HUD as decent, safe and sanitary. In its wisdom, the bureaucracy has ruled that “decent, safe and sanitary” may require subsidies as high as $2,200 per month. But because of that, Section 8 tenants often get to live in (SET ITAL) nicer (END ITAL) places than those who pay their own way.

Kevin Spaulding is an MIT graduate in Boston who works long hours as an engineer, and struggles to cover his rent and student loans. Yet all around him, he says, he sees people who don’t work but live better than he does.

[End of excerpt]

Your tax dollars at work.  Makes you feel all warm and compassionate inside, doesn’t it?

The Problem with U.S. Fiscal Policy

10 Jan

Recent e-mail message from Star Parker, the black conservative president of CURE – very good quote at the end:

U.S. Fiscal Policy Is Detached from Reality

.  .  .  .

There is an inconvenient truth called reality. There are aspects of reality — things involving behavior and obligations that, unlike a rock falling on your head, can be denied so that, at the moment it’s like it’s not there.

Our political “friends” in Washington welcomed in 2013 for us by turning off the TV, by throwing the unopened bills into the drawer, allowing Americans to enter the New Year under the illusion that something fiscally meaningful has been solved or accomplished.

No one can claim that the problem is lack of information.

Open any newspaper or magazine and there is sure to be at least one report about the spending of our federal government, which now takes almost $1 of every $4 produced by the American economy, or about our trillion dollar budget deficits, to which no end appears in sight, or about our national debt which soon will exceed the value of all the goods and services our whole economy produces in a year, or about the shortfalls of Social Security and Medicare, which together is about five times that.

Doesn’t seem to matter.  .  .  .  Everything will work out. Always does.

Supposedly what we want is a growing, prosperous nation.

But symptomatic of being detached from reality is behaving in ways inconsistent with what you think you are trying to do.

Economic growth happens when success and risk taking is rewarded and sloth and failure is not.

But part of the spending spree that has been going on over recent years has involved bailing out and subsidizing failure — auto companies, banks, green energy.  [I might add “irresponsible individuals” to the list.]

Yet successful small businesses are punished in this fiscal cliff bill. According to the Wall Street Journal, a 2011 Treasury Department study indicated raising taxes on incomes over $500,000 would affect about 750,000 small business and that according to one survey during the fiscal cliff talks, 29 percent of small business heads indicated the result would be less hiring and 32 percent indicated they would invest less.

Meanwhile, not working is being subsidized by further extending unemployment benefits, already having been extended to a mind-boggling 99 weeks.

Which all goes to explain why I was and am opposed to this agreement, which some are celebrating.

That inconvenient truth called reality is something Americans badly need to connect with. If we want all this spending, pay for it. That means everyone. Let’s get the real numbers on the table and lets get out our checkbooks.

If you don’t want to pay, cut the spending.

In the words of the great 19th century French political economist Frederic Bastiat, “When misguided public opinion honors what is despicable and despises what is honorable, punishes virtue and rewards vice, encourages what is harmful and discourages what is useful, applauds falsehood and smothers truth under indifference or insult, a nation turns its back on progress and can be restored only by the terrible lessons of catastrophe.”